The first thing to start this review off with is that I love the Ace Attorney series. Trials and Tribulations is one of my favorite games ever, so that is a little example of where I'm coming from.
When I first heard about Shu Takumi's (the creator of Ace Attorney) new game, Ghost Trick, at first I was disappointed. "He's not making another Phoenix Wright game?! Bah!" Then, as more media began to trickle out and I learned more about the game's concept, I began to grow fonder of the game. Surely Takumi would bring the same spark to Ghost Trick that AA had, right? That's what I kept thinking as the game drew closer to release.
Now, it's finally here and I'm going to create a hook so that you'll click through: is Ghost Trick a good game? Does Takumi still have it?! Find out below!
Ghost Trick - Nintendo DS
Probably the first thing you might notice is the art style. Yes, it is awesome. The portraits that show up as the characters speak are bright, colorful and everything you'd expect from Capcom. The live graphics are also beautifully done – every character has a wide range of motions and moves with the fluidity of an acrobat. The animation flows exceptionally well (and considering there were only 4 or so animators that makes it even more impressive) and oozes personality. As far as visuals go in this game, I really only have praise. Everything was perfectly clear and leads gameplay in the right direction.
Speaking of the gameplay, it isn't what you might be expecting. While much of the game has plenty of the same character-driven story that the Phoenix Wright games are known for, don't expect to be playing another point-and-click style adventure. Instead, Ghost Trick has more in common with Mouse Trap or Rube Goldberg machines. You play as Sissel, the dead fellow on the cover of the game. You wake up wondering who killed you and after being greeted by Ray, a lamp possessed by a dead spirit, you embark on your mission to find your killer before dawn arrives and you disappear forever.
Yes, you only have until dawn, but it's not a literal timer, so you're not rushed in that way. Rather, you're timed on a smaller scale in timing your jumps from object to object and saving people before their final 4 minutes of life are up. You can possess objects laying about in the world and interact with them to influence other people's lives, but your reach only goes so far. Thus, making a ball fall near the book you're in so you can reach the lamp on the table is the kind of challenge you'll often face, with each puzzle getting more complex than the last.
Much like Takumi's previous law-focused games, Ghost Trick is very linear. Actually, the only deviation you can make from the main story is going where you're not supposed to or failing. If you fail, you start over (and you will be starting over many times). If you go to the wrong location, the characters blatantly tell you, "Hmm, we're in the wrong place! Better go back and retrace our steps." I'm perfectly fine with this, as this helps keep the game focused and the story flowing at a steady pace, but some might find it restricting. Perhaps my only real complaint with the game is that by the time you get to the end, several huge twists in the story pull the rug out from under you. They make you say "WTF" at first. Are they ridiculous twists? Yes. But they do make sense in the context of the game, and after my initial reaction to it I came around and found myself liking it anyway.
Ghost Trick is already one of the best games of the year, it's stuck being released at the beginning of the year and on a system that's about to be replaced in March. That normally would look like a recipe for disaster, but I've actually seen a fair amount of excitement over it. If you're a fan of Phoenix Wright, puzzle games, or even point-and-click adventure games, Ghost Trick will probably be right up your alley. It's one of the most original titles in a while, and will probably be a cult classic similar to Capcom's more quirky titles. Don't miss out on this one!
Score: 9 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)
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