Their crime novel adventures once had us probing for clues revealed in conversation that steadily led us closer to unravelling the truth around each game’s mysteries. Now, some six years later, director Taisuke Kanasaki has regrouped with his team to tell a new story in Chase: Cold Case Investigations – Distant Memories.
This traces the uneventful careers led by Shounosuke Nanase and Koto Amekura, detectives in the Cold Case Unit of the 3rd Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. Treading the good cop, bad cop routine, Amekura is said to be an up-and-coming bright detective ripe for promotion, while her boss, Nanase, is widely seen by everyone in the department as an “eccentric detective.”
Their role is to investigate cold cases, an unsolved crime or accident that has been shelved due to a lack of meaningful evidence. As Amekura puts it, they are “the unit that never does anything.” But, that all changes when an unidentified caller plants a seed of doubt in the detective duo’s minds about a case that was closed five years earlier. This relates to a mysterious gas explosion in a supply room at Ryokudo Hospital, in which janitor Tatsumi Minami had died. Ruled an accident at the time, the caller suggests that Minami had been murdered.
Despite Amekura’s enthusiasm that their long wait for a case to work on is now over, Nanase isn’t as easily convinced. Suspicious that it was simply a prank call and that the cops that worked on the case would have been able to determine if it was a murder, he reluctantly agrees to investigate whether there was a cover-up to ease his boredom.
The events that unfold in Chase: Cold Case Investigations are largely seen from Nanase’s perspective, as he pores over old evidence and questions witnesses that were previously tied to the case. His somewhat carefree attitude is at odds with Amekura, who constantly reminds him to act more professionally when speaking to the witnesses.
Switching between Nanase and Amekura’s somewhat bland office and a nearby witness room, this isn’t quite the sprawling adventure that Cing were previously known for. Where we had once wandered hotel corridors hunting the secrets that they hid, Chase: Cold Case Investigations progresses with such linearity that all the characters you are required to interact with come to you. It’s perhaps indicative that this has been developed on a more restricted budget, but the player isn’t left with enough freedom to let their curiosity shape the tale.
That being said, the narrative is riddled with intrigue which weaves its way through the interactive cutscenes that you attentively read. Within this, the player is often challenged to recall previous testimony or hunt through the investigation notes when faced with Interrogation Screens.
These occur either when you are trying to piece together everything that you have discovered in your investigation so far, or attempting to draw out new information from a witness. Such instances will more often than not revolve around multi-choice answers, an incorrect response resulting in some light scorning from Amekura and a penalty reduction to the Interrogation Gauge. If this depletes in entirety players will be met with the game over screen, but that never feels like a particularly looming threat seeing as you can save at any moment.
Given the development team’s proven pedigree, I had hoped that there would be more imaginative puzzle elements to Chase: Cold Case Investigations. While you are tasked to cast a meticulous eye over crime scene photographs in your hunt for undiscovered clues, sadly there’s nothing here to rival the ingenuity seen in Hotel Dusk’s Pinkie Rabbit puzzle.
It will take you two hours to beat Chase: Cold Case Investigations – Distant Memories, resulting in an experience that feels episodic by design. This brief investigation will satisfy most despite its flaws, but, thanks to superbly realised storytelling, we’re left wanting more. Whether the Cold Case Unit will receive another anonymous call is unclear, but the potential is plentiful.