Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review
Posted November 28, 2011 by Jallen (189)
I don’t often get to play DS games, it’s by choice I’m afraid, I don’t really want to spend my time hunched over two small screens when I could be reclining on my sofa in-front of my large TV screen…perhaps with bunch of grapes dangled above me so I may pluck the juicy morsels off with my teeth; leaving my hands free. Umm, well anyway; as such I never got to play any of the uber popular Ace Attorney series and I’m (not for the first time) starting to regret my decision to play ‘Quantum Theory’ over ‘Ace Attorney’. ‘Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective’s creator is Shu Takumi, the same man behind ‘Ace Attorney’ and now I completely understand why they’re so successful.
The game kicks things off by telling us we’re dead. A little unconventional, to kill off the main character before we even get to see how he died but that would rather ruin the game. As the title suggests you take control of a “ghost” (called Sissle) who has lost his memories of being alive. He has no idea who he was and how he was killed let alone why and who done it. While pondering his new strange existence, Sissle sees Lynne (a red-headed lady Detective) about to be shot. So he uses his “tricks” to save the girl. Over the course of the game this “phantom” helps the “detective” (okay even I admit that one was a bit contrived) solve the mystery of who he is, who done-it and most important of all, why.
So what are these tricks? Well Sissle can travel around by possessing objects that have a “core” and can control certain possessed objects. Like he can make a tire roll down a path, thus allowing Sissle to move to new locations when there are no cores to travel along. Or he could turn on a light to attract attention to a spot. By using objects Sissle can affect the world, enabling him to travel but also save lives. Of course once a body is dead there is nothing you can do right? Wrong; Sissle’s other power is the ability to travel back in time; 4 minutes before the death, and then use his tricks prevent the death from happening.
If I made that sound a bit complicated it really isn’t. It’s a very simple concept brilliantly executed. The game has many well thought out areas (many of which you’re revisit twice) and each one provides interesting interaction with the environment and interesting puzzles to solve. Each puzzle is perfectly designed too with generally logical solutions. Giving you time to think (as time doesn’t pass while you’re moving between cores in the ghost world) but also giving you strict time-limits to prevent deaths or make your move. If you fail you’ll just be shoved back to the beginning or maybe (if you’re lucky) a checkpoint. This is perhaps the biggest problem with the game. While you can skip through dialogue if you’ve heard it before you’ll often have to wait through set-pieces or wait for that second when you can make your move to be able to progress. The check points are a bit rarer than I would like forcing you to replay sections again, and again from multiple perspectives. Just going back in time four minutes shows you what happens, and then you have to come along and relive it to prevent it; so it really can grate after a while.
Thankfully then the world is filled with quirky interesting characters. While the gameplay is good it is the story and the characters that make you want to play this game. Each one is sure to make you raise a simile or a bemused look as we see; dancing detectives, bored prison officers, rock-star inmates, a crazy writer, a heroic yappy dog and a whole host of evil blue-skinned baddies. You’ll want to save Lynne as she dies for the fifth time and you’ll be interested in what happened 10-years ago as you unravel this mystery. Oh and look out for the plot-twists; this game will keep you guessing right up til the end to who Sissle really is and how everything is really connected.
To top it all the game looks really good, the artwork is highly detailed and the characters animations are very smooth, especially when it comes to the aforementioned dancing detective. The music perfectly sums up the mood and it’s done by the same person who did the Ace Attorney music; Masakazu Sugimori.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective has a gripping story, with interesting characters and spot on gameplay that will keep you amused for around 15 hours. Even with the slight annoyance of repeating everything; the game is a pleasure to play. I hope if you’re like me, and don’t play many DS games, that you’ll pick this one up because it is well worth it.
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