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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review

– Ed Acosta

Our Score: 5 / 5 – Incredible

We’ve all had it happen before, wake up not remembering who we are, why we’re here, and… Hey wait a minute, what’s a dead guy doing on the floor?  In fact, it happened to me the other night; but let’s twist this scenario a wee little bit and make that dead guy… well, you.  The kicker?  You have until sunrise to solve your own murder and save the life of a female detective you don’t even know.  Oh and a cute puppy, but that’s later.

That’s the premise of Ghost Trick, the newest DS title published by Capcom and from the mind that brought us Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Shu Takumi.  From save menus to inventory screens, it feels Phoenix Wright-esque, but that’s good because the interface in both titles are easy to navigate and work well with the touchscreen.  Unlike the Ace Attorney series, this game isn’t about lawyers or courtroom drama, this game is murder mystery.  The game starts with you questioning your own death which is revealed to you by Ray, your tutorial guide office lamp.  You don’t find out much at first story-wise but you do get a good tutorial on how to play the game.  You learn from your office lamp buddy, that you’re the soul of the dead man and that you are one of the rare few who has the ability to posses the core of inanimate objects.  You can use your “ghost trick” ability to cause objects to function in different ways so that you may interact with the living.

4 minutes before you die and you’re interested in a pitcher of water?

The game is all about puzzles.  Time stops when you go into ghost mode and to poses objects, you need to be within a close enough radius to hop from one to the other. The puzzle element comes into play when you have to figure out how to get from one side off the room to the other or use an individual objects abilities to change the fate of what is happening.  Along the way you sometimes have to stop someones death by going back in time 4 minutes prior to the death and using the objects to save their life.  The puzzles can be challenging and it takes some creativity to solve them.  Not once was I frustrated with any of the puzzles and even though I had to start over a few of them, I still had fun doing so.

Yeah baby, ya gotta believe!

This game is a blast, the story is engaging, the animation and art style are incredible, not something you normally see on a DS.  The characters on screen are animated very well. Its silky smooth in the way everyone moves on screen, more like your using the game to edit a video. Any dialogue is handled by a pop up 2d image of the character with a dialogue box, similar to the Ace Attorney series and most RPGs on handhelds.  Maybe it’s a limitation of the DS cartridge size but I would have loved if they used the same fluid animation and recorded voices with the character dialogue.

This guy must love him some MJ

Characters have their own animation style to suit their personality which can lead to some funny results.  Like the detective who dances around like a wanna be Micheal Jackson.

The music is another spot you can tell this game was done by the same folks behind the Ace Attorney series; after listening to a few tracks it just has that same feeling about it.  All good though as the music fits to each character and scene. The tunes are quite catchy and you’ll find yourself humming them later.

All in all I loved this game.  I like the murder mystery storyline, I like the clever puzzles, and I enjoy the game-play.  If you own a DS and want something fresh to play, go find this now because just like the Phoenix Wright games, I feel this will be a hard to find classic in the coming months.

Retails for: $29.99, recommended purchase price: $29.99