Fun while it lasts, Chase: Cold Case Investigations feels more like a demo than a full game.
The developer Cing has been bankrupt and gone since 2010, but Chase: Cold Case Investigations - Distant Memories, an eShop game from Aksys Games and Arc System Works, carries forth the studio’s Hotel Dusk-style legacy (and some of its staff). The new noir tale is short and linear, but it remains generally engrossing with a good mystery through its two-hour length.
This is a pure visual novel, as you follow along with detectives Shounosuke Nanase and Koto Amekura as the pair reopen a five-year-old murder case that was originally ruled an accident. Nanase is comically hard-boiled and Amekura is as green as rookies can be. Their interactions with each other and the suspects are fun and rousing, bolstered by the character animation and designs. Some weird language is used with regularity, making it seem like the localization from the original Japanese might have been a little too literal. The only interactions outside of the text, though, are some awful pixel hunts and reading comprehension multiple-choice questions. It’s basic, but the story is, for the most part, good enough to carry the weight of the uninspired puzzles. The whole affair wraps up quickly, but ends abruptly on a cliffhanger.
As someone who hasn’t played Hotel Dusk, the best thing I can say about Chase: Cold Case Investigations is that I’m actively seeking out a copy of the DS game and crossing my fingers for more improved future chapters of the potential 3DS series (Aksys Games' comment regarding that: "We have no knowledge of the continuation of Chase at this time. It's all up to the developers from here."). This bite-sized visual novel noir is a pleasant surprise, but miserable puzzles and a so-so localization drag down the experience.