REVIEW: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

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No one knows what happens to a person’s soul after death.  Does the soul become a poltergeist: a ghost doomed to haunt the mortal world?  That is the premise of Capcom’s Ghost Trick, a mystery puzzle game created by the same mind behind the Ace Attorney series, Shu Takumi.  The game tells the tale of Sissel, a recently disembodied spirit and victim of a murder.  Sissel soon discovers that he was bestowed with special powers that enabled him to transfer his spirit into inanimate objects and bend them to his will.  Unfortunately, he also discovers that he has lost his memory.  Embarking on an investigation to regain his lost memories, he takes it upon himself to rescue other murder victims from the same fate he suffered.

Ghost Trick

Sissel is one cool cat. But can he solve the mystery of his murder?

The story in Ghost Trick is one of its finest elements, which is no surprise as it shares a similar pedigree to the Ace Attorney series.  Like Ace Attorney, Ghost Trick‘s plot revolves around murder and intrigue, with recurring themes, a colorful cast of characters, and a good sense of humor.  Though it does abuse the old amnesia cliché, the plot is anything but predictable.  It has more than its fair share of plot twists and jaw-dropping revelations to keep things fresh and interesting.

Like Ace Attorney, Ghost Trick presents its dialog solely through text.  But, players are treated to heavily stylized depictions of characters.  When there are not any talking heads displayed, the game flexes its arms and flaunts its impressively detailed environments and, of course, its fluid animation.  It does not take much to realize that a lot of effort went into animating the characters as they move about the screen.  Every movement is crisp and clean, leaving the game with an impressive aesthetic.

The gentleman on the right will become your new definition of the word “smooth”.

Music is another pleasure in the game and a joy to listen to.  The soundtrack is exciting and emotionally charged, matching the fast-paced plot.

Ghost Trick‘s mechanics revolve around Sissel’s ability to possess and manipulate non-living things.  Using this power and the ability to travel back in time, the goal is to prevent other characters from meeting an untimely end.  There are a few catches, however: Sissel can only travel as far as four minutes before a character’s death and he can only possess objects that are a short distance away from his current position.  These inhibitions create a lot of unique and challenging puzzles to be solved.  Players will have to hop from object to object, manipulate objects at the ideal time, and adapt to changes in the environment to save the character in question.  Needless to say, a lot of trial and error will be necessary.  This is slightly unfortunate as the game forces the player to endure the same text screens during each and every try, which can get a little annoying after several attempts at a puzzle.

Ghost Trick is a game that will be remembered for its story.  Like the Ace Attorney series, plot is king in this macabre mystery.  But its unique gameplay is nothing to scoff at as it is as well constructed and challenging as any puzzle game.  Whether you play it to figure out whodunit or to challenge your lateral thinking, Ghost Trick is a gem that will delight you no matter the reason you picked it up in the first place.

Review Score

Oprainfall’s Review System:

5= A Nearly Perfect Game. A must buy game. This game is as close to perfect as can possibly be.
4= A Great Game. You should seriously consider buying this game if you own the console.
3= A Good Game. The game will likely appeal to the fans of the genre or series.
2= A Poor Game. The game has some issues. Only the most devoted fans of the series should buy this game.
1= A Dreadful Game. We cannot in good conscience recommend this game to anyone, it is that bad.

About James Best

James Best is a recent addition to the oprainfall staff, joining just before E3 2012. Primarily a video game critic, he also reports on news occasionally. He hopes to become a professional critic sometime in the future. While he does enjoy a good RPG, he can appreciate a wide variety of genres from platformers to shooters.