Now that it’s out of print, go buy Ghost Trick.
Because it’s awesome.
Capcom’s Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective came out a year and a half ago in North America on the DS, and I played the demo and fell in love about six months before that. Because human beings are terrible at making decisions that make them happy, though, I didn’t make it a priority to pick up the game on release and only bought it this past week (and finished it last night), despite being impressed with the demo, and furthermore despite loving Shu Takumi’s other famous creation: the Ace Attorney series.
Before I go into detail I’ll say this: If you loved Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, you will in all likelihood adore Ghost Trick. Please at least play the online flash demo.
Although similar “talking to characters to get information” segments pop up regularly, the gameplay in Ghost Trick is rather different from the AA series. You control the ghost of a recently deceased individual and travel around the environment by leaping from object to object, possessing and sometimes (often) manipulating them to accomplish a goal- usually the prevention of someone’s death. The result is a unique type of puzzle game with some similarities to item puzzles in classic adventure games, but more dynamic, and decidedly more dynamic than the action in Ace Attorney.
Also decidedly more dynamic: the animation.
As solid and fun as the gameplay is, the real draws are the presentation and the story. The gorgeous and often hilarious animation is probably the second thing you’ll notice, if only because the music (provided by Masakazu Sugimori, composer of the first Phoenix Wright game) tends to make its entrance beforehand. It’s difficult to talk much about the story without quickly getting into spoiler territory, but the basic premise sees your ghost character on a quest to recover his lost memory (ah, the old amnesia ploy) before sunrise, getting tied up in a larger mystery as events unfold. It’s very well-structured, presenting minor revelations along the way that keep you hooked and wondering where the story is going to go next, eventually playing out its incredible conclusion. The writing, and characterization are where the game really shows its sibling-hood with Ace Attorney- a couple of characters almost feel ripped straight from it, even- but it benefits from being the work of a more practiced creator, very familiar in feel but polished of the rough edges that stuck out in those games.
Did I mention the wonderful story? Just trust me on this one.
The one big drawback to the game is that it didn’t sell as well as Capcom hoped, and new physical copies are getting hard to come by. The good news is that there’s an iPhone/iPad version which doesn’t have the same availability problems and is only 10 dollars if you have one of those devices. Use of the DS system’s two screens is minimal, so one needn’t worry about that aspect.
If anything I’ve written here sounds intriguing, don’t put it off any longer. Play this game.
5 out of 5 ghost mushrooms