Review: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Posted 02 May 2011 at 11:43 by Ashley Jones
|"The story, as peculiar as it is, is one of the game's main highlights."
Have you ever woken up dead? That's the conundrum Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective's protagonist Sissel faces. The game begins just after his death and he learns, from a table lamp of course, that he has the ability to possess inanimate objects and help the recently deceased by traveling back in time and preventing their death.
Of course life is never easy and he is unable to travel back in time and save himself because that's just how it works. He also learns that by the following morning he will cease to be a ghost so if he wants to get to the bottom of his murder he must act fast.
The story, as peculiar as it is, is one of the game's main highlights. There's a good level of humour and intrigue throughout Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective that will keep you entertained throughout its numerous 'chapters'. The story works as one long narrative but is broken up into smaller chapters that all become interconnected levels.
The humour and storyline will probably grab you initially but as you begin to play you soon realise one of the game's most impressive features is the animation. According to the Shu Takumi, the creator of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective and Phoenix Wright, they created 3D models first and animated them by hand before then doing it in 2D. The animations are stylised and everyone moves in a slightly exaggerated manner but it is something to behold. The video below shows it off somewhat although it is worth getting your hands on the game just to watch it for yourself, particularly the Detective.
The game controls very simply and you can use either the touch screen or buttons (although its more intuitive to use the touch screen). You must alternate between the ghost world and the normal world to possess things and then use them. While possessing items in the ghost world you can only travel a short distance so quite often you will have to utilise items to create a route, almost like a game of spectral 'Mouse Trap'.
During the story you will come across numerous people who have been killed or died accidentally, and one in particular dies numerous times. You must travel back to four minutes before their death and help to prevent it. Their spirit can talk to you and offer advice from time to time but usually it is up to you to assure that their fate is averted. The difficulty increases as the game goes on and variations (such as solving a death within a death) help to make sure it doesn't become too familiar. You can keep retrying until you solve the individual's death.
As you advert each death you travel between areas through the phone system and pick up bits of conversation. A diary of information is kept to remind you of what you know and who seems suspicious, although this isn't a HBO drama so most of it you should be able to remember anyway even if you don't play it for a few days.
One of the few problems this title has is the fact that at times dialogue is repeated, either because you failed something or you accidentally clicked on that character again. This can be fast-forwarded by holding 'B' but at times it can become cumbersome. Likewise, while the majority of the characters are interesting there or one or two who are a chore to talk to.
Ultimately the game is as strong as its story and thankfully Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective has a strong and enjoyable story line. Naturally we expected good things from Shu Takumi and it's good to see he hasn't failed us. If you thought Phoenix Wright's characters were quirky you've not seen anything yet!
Hopefully the game will see a sequel of some sorts, presumably with different characters, because it is a real delight to play. The mythology that is developed in Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective seems to open itself up for more games in the future. It proves that a DS game can have a great story, engaging characters and brilliant animation and shows the original DS still has a lot of life in it.
N-Europe Final Verdict
An engaging storyline, memorable characters and wonderful animation make this game a true treat.
Entertaining and engaging storyline
Plenty of humour
The gameplay doesn't get stale
Repetitive dialogue at times
Loses its charm after the first play