Should I Buy? – Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective


OK, after saying in my last review that I should focus on console games for a while after a stream of hand held titles, I’ve decided to review a handheld title. Then again, you’re statistically more likely to own or have owned a DS than any other console of this generation (except a PC). The title in question is probably one nobody reading this has heard of, a semi-obscure Japanese puzzle solving game. Deary me, this blog is getting a lot of puzzle game reviews.

Anyway, the game in question comes from the mind of one Shu Takumi, a game director and writer responsible for the Ace Attorney series, my personal favourite. I’ve avoided reviewing any Ace Attorney games so far because of a very real fear that it’ll end up as a wedding proposal to Mr. Takumi. What can I say? Man writes good.

Ghost Trick is apparently set within the same world as Ace Attorney but seeing as it has an all new cast, design style, set of game mechanics and features none of the original locations, having prior Ace Attorney knowledge doesn’t matter or even make any sense. Still, the reason I bought this game is that it was the product of Mr. Takumi’s mind. His Ace Attorney games are text heavy, character driven games with logic puzzles, which are amazingly well written and localised (for a game, he’s no Neil Gaiman).

When playing Ghost Trick you see that writing ability come through. The major characters will all grow on you over the course of the game, and several of the minor ones will leave a lasting impression too. Special mention goes out to Missile, one loyal little dog that affected me emotionally more than any…well, thing in fiction since I saw Toy Story 3.

It’s probably about time I actually spoke about the gameplay. And it’s…a text heavy character driven game based on logic puzzles. But different from the umpteen ones I’ve spoken about before! Actually, I can’t think of any game to have used these mechanics before. I think this is actually a unique game. The game opens with you dying, becoming a ghost and losing all your memories. However, you soon learn that as a ghost you have certain powers with which to affect the living world. You can manipulate objects, jump between different ones, talk to dead spirits and whenever you find a corpse you can travel four minutes back in time to stop their death from taking place.

There are a few more mechanics but they’re not introduced until later into the game, at a point where it’s really too late for them to fundamentally change the experience. So you have spend the game investigating the mystery of your own identity by saving others. Doing so can be blindingly simple, or incredibly frustrating. Luckily, the game leans on the fun end more than the frustrating.

If you want a game that’ll set you thinking, then I can recommend Ghost Trick. There’s more player involvement Ace Attorney games, and the characters may not have the impact of Mr. Takumi’s other works but compared to most blockbuster games, they’re very strong. Get this if you want an intellectual challenge, or even just a unique experience.

Also, I really really wanna be able to talk about Missile with people.

Price: £16 (CEX)

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