As the creator of the Ace Attorney games, Shu Takumi has developed a cult following from gamers who love his complex mysteries, twist-filled cases and often hilarious dialogue. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is his attempt at trying something else, and the result is a game that feels different to the Ace Attorney games but still manages to retain a similar sense of humour and a complex storyline.
Your character Sissel is lying dead in a junkyard yet despite his death Sissel can still hear his own thoughts even though he's lost his memory and has no idea who he is or what's going on. Suddenly, he hears another voice talking in his head. This is the voice of Ray, who appears to be a ghost trapped in the body of a desk light. Ray explains that not only is Sissel dead, he also has special powers called 'Ghosting' and 'Tricks'.
A Ghost Of A Chance
Ghosting allows Sissel's soul to possess any inanimate object he chooses, as long as he's close enough to hop over to it. Many of the objects Sissel can possess can also be Tricked, meaning he can make them perform an action. Whether it's extending a ladder or turning a light on, Tricking lets Sissel continue to have an impact on the surroundings around him despite having snuffed it.
If Sissel possesses and Tricks a corpse (except his), he has the power to turn back time to four minutes before their death occurred, giving him time to try to change things. Having done this, Sissel is told that his soul can only live for one day, and that by the next morning his consciousness will no longer exist. He decides that before that happens he's going to find out exactly who he is, who shot him and why, so that his soul can rest in peace.
It's an interesting story and one that only continues to get more intriguing as the game progresses through its 18 chapters. You'll encounter many secret identities, wrongful accusations and mysterious secrets long before the final, touching climax. We're absolutely sure you won't see the ending coming either.
In order to get there though, you'll have to solve some fiendish puzzles. The first truly difficult one, involving a mechanical murder machine, will have you scratching your head until you eventually crack it, with pleasing results.
Ghost Trick looks original but this is still an Ace Attorney game at its core. It's split into two types of gameplay: exploration scenes and puzzle scenes. Each time Sissel finds a corpse a puzzle starts where you have to go back to four minutes before they died and try to manipulate events to change history and prevent their death. While these can be incredibly clever, each death scene is essentially the same as the Testimony sections in the Phoenix Wright games: you repeat them over and over again with Sissel speaking out whenever he feels something's been missed. When you finally figure out the one thing the game wants you to do, the puzzle proceeds.
Despite this, it has a visuals style all of its own. The animation is incredible and offers some of the best 'acting' we've seen in a game. This gives personality to each character before they even say a word, and is a huge improvement over Takumi's previous games.
The only real problem is that you'll more or less be doing the same sort of thing over and over for the 10-12 hours it'll take you to finish the game. Have a chat, move around the room, move some things around, find a body, solve a puzzle to save their life, and repeat. If you're a fan of the Ace Attorney games you should already be used to this so it shouldn't be a problem. If you're on the lookout for a puzzle game that has a gripping story, a funny script and a cast of colourful characters that offers something a little different, Ghost Trick is a resounding success.
Want to see Ghost Trick in action? Watch this Ghost Trick trailer.