There is no doubt that the Phoenix Wright series is not only one of the most popular DS games around, but also one of the weirdest. Coming from the land of the rising sun, the Phoenix Wright games took gamers into virtual court rooms playing as a lawyer trying to gather evidence to prove the innocence of your clients. Well, the designer behind that game is back with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, and on our evidence it is sure to be a hit as well. It is a game that suits the DS hardware perfectly as well as on the go gaming, and that is the key to DS success.
Ghost Trick puts you in the role of Sissel, a young man who has unfortunately just been shot dead. Shortly after his death, Sissel discovers he has obtained powers of the dead upon his death, but has no idea why he died or how. Before daybreak when Sissel becomes lost forever, he must find out why he was shot and by whom. To do this you will have to save the life of characters throughout the night who have key clues, whilst also trying to find your own intel.
Ghost Trick is a puzzle game in which you manipulate the environment. As you come across people who have died you are transported to four minutes before their death. By manipulating the environments as a ghost, you can change the fate of these characters and keep them alive. For example, you can take control of a boom gate and use a trick with that gate which will send it skywards, knocking a hitman over. That's just one of the early puzzles in the game and as the game wears on through its seventeen chapters it becomes more and more intricate and difficult. The game is definitely a title you can pick up and play for a few minutes during a coffee break or ride home.
The game is split into two worlds; the ghost world and the real world. In the ghost world you as Sissel can move between objects, however there is a limit to how far you can move. For example, you may need to manipulate an object such as opening a door to be able to reach another object. Manipulations can only occur in the real world. The other challenge of the real world is that time is ticking and the game is not paused, so you have to think quickly. Whenever you change the fate of a character in the game, that represents a checkpoint, so the trial and error format of the game is not as frustrating as it could have been and there is certainly a sense of satisfaction when you figure out what to do.
One area where the game is somewhat annoying is the presentation of the story. Like the Phoenix Wright series of games, it is very text heavy with conversations and monologues sometime stretching for minutes on end. This can be very frustrating, especially when playing on the go and you just want to get on with the game.
Thankfully the story is actually quite interesting, so it's not all bad news on this part. The other disappointing element is that it does have a fairly strong learning curve. Once you get accustomed to the gameplay mechanics, you will be finishing chapters in no time, but the first hour or so you may wonder just what on earth you need to do next.
In terms of the visuals in the game, it does unsurprisingly remind us of Phoenix Wright. Bright colours, strange characters and cartoon style graphics are the order of the day here. The animations are done as well as you can expect on a DS. Although there is no voice acting, the music suits the game quite well. However, given how funny some of the script is, it is a real shame no voice acting is present.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a game that somewhat came out of nowhere. Phoenix Wright fans will adore this title. It's a game which tests your thinking skills while also offering some very enjoyable gameplay. The fact the story is interesting just adds to the fact that Ghost Trick is one of the most unique games recently made and one of the best available on the Nintendo DS system. If you have a long haul flight or cross country bus trip coming up, you could do a lot worse than picking up Ghost Trick before you leave.