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Summary review: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Platform: Nintendo DS
Single-player, puzzle solving, visual novel

Ghost Trick comes from creator of the widely beloved Ace Attorney series of games, Shu Takami. It’s very much in the vein of those games. However, rather than presenting evidence and identifying contradictions, the puzzle solving is much more grounded in the everyday task of identifying what inanimate objects can do. As for the story, you’ll fall in love with a dog with a heart of gold amongst the large cast of personalities in this game.

Liked

Puzzles

The gameplay centres around possessing inanimate objects and performing ‘ghost tricks’ with them, which can range from opening a cupboard door to raising a see saw. When you couple this with having a limited range in which you can move from object to object you have a very neat puzzle system.

Most of the puzzles involve either getting Sissel (the ghostly protagonist) into the correct position by possessing objects that move other objects to create a path to the destination, or getting another object into a place to solve the problem facing Sissel or one of his living friends. Because these objects are everyday objects, it’s usually very easy to tell what an object will do when you use a ghost trick. A tyre will obviously roll, a switch will obviously be flipped. But they do also tell you in the top screen the function of each object.¬†Difficulties arise when you have to make a path and move objects into the correct place in order to solve the puzzle, and/or are forced to do them against the clock.

Luckily then Sissel is able to rewind time for those time-based puzzles. Indeed, sometimes you’ll need to fail in order to figure out how to actually solve the puzzle (unless you have some excellent intellectual ability). So it is nice that they both explain that and encourage it.

As a result, the puzzles in Ghost Trick are much more logical and more forgiving than the courtroom battles of the Ace Attorney series. They are also arguably a lot easier than those courtroom battles. I had very little trouble with figuring out most puzzles on my own, though it did take several tries for a few of the later puzzles. But they are challenging enough to be entertaining.

Story

I will put a caveat here. The way the story plays out may be a little… positive for some of you. Characters will forgive other characters at the drop of a dime. However, I guess that could be explained by the fact most of the characters can essentially communicate telepathically, and perhaps it exposes their emotions. It is also

Anyway, the story is very much like an Ace Attorney case. Mysteries crop up early and often, and just as you feel you are about to solve the mystery a twist will make the answers further out of your reach. Until the end when everything is revealed and it all makes sense… for the most part. Still, it was a highly enjoyable ride, and with a cast of characters with their own personalities, much like in the Ace Attorney series. Among the most memorable is a¬†Pomeranian. Yes, a dog is one of the highlights of this game.

Basically, if you loved the stories of the Ace Attorney games you’ll love this game. Unless you hate animals. With a passion. Then you will not.

Music

That main theme. So catchy.

Disliked

Length and Replayability

Unfortunately, Ghost Trick is a short, but enjoyable, journey. I estimate it took me 8-9 hours to finish the game, and once you have finished it there is no reason to replay it other than to see your favourite characters again. Which, though it pains me to say it, is why you should wait till the game goes on sale to get it.

Though it does make sense why it is as short as it is. Unlike Ace Attorney, multiple scenarios would not be feasible with the story of the game without some major changes to that story.

Conclusion

A great game with interesting gameplay and an interesting story. However, the length of that entertainment may not match the price at this time. Rent this game if you can, or wait till it is on sale.

By Benjamin Lay

Proprietor of this fine website, with interests ranging from video games to anime to amateur programming.

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