Game Review

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Kim Wild

Trick or treat?

When Shu Takumi broke away from the Ace Attorney series to create a new game for the Nintendo DS, there were many who wondered whether anything else could ever live up to a certain Phoenix Wright and his long succession of adventures. Fans of his work and point-and-click adventures have no need to worry as Ghost Trick is a tantalising endeavour that proves to be his best production to date.

You play the role of Sissel, a ghost who has been separated from his body after becoming a murder victim. Completely absent of any memory of who he is or what has happened, Sissel must embark on a quest to rediscover his identity with the aid of the people he befriends, including a suspicious talking lamp called Ray. However, being without a body is incredibly inconvenient, so the only way in which to travel is by accessing the ghost world, where every object has a core that can be latched onto with a move of the stylus, and phone lines are the only way to access another location. You can also interact with those who have died so you can discover how they met an untimely end and then 'rewind' to four minutes before that person's demise in order to prevent it.

Accessing the real world enables Sissel to perform 'tricks' that involve manipulating objects to set off a chain of events. For example, early on in the game, a young girl with her dog are both about to be assassinated by a hitman and both deaths need to be prevented. By moving the girl's headphones into the water she can't listen to her music, and craftily manipulating an object to roll underneath the sofa will cause the dog to follow it, therefore leading them both out of harm's way when the assassin arrives. It's not all about murder, despite the obvious obsession with death: some puzzles can be as simple as trying to get a telephone to a young girl so she can speak to her father and sneaking a prisoner past some security guards.

Everything about the world has the animé style that you would come to expect from a game of Shu Takumi's pedigree yet it is in the animation that injects personality into its characters. Every scene is vibrant with life: the flamboyant walk of the white coated detective, the panic dance of the security guard and the ballet style movement of the park attendant all enhance the humorous script and make watching as engrossing as participating. Although there is plenty of dialogue to enjoy, it never outstays its welcome, focusing more on informing the player while being a source of entertainment. Even the soundtrack is an auditory treat, with a flair for jazz and the dramatic, constantly changing to fit the scene or characters that star within them.

What makes Ghost Trick such a delight to play is that the storyline and puzzles are intricately woven together. It always makes perfect sense as to why you need to reach the next room or access a phone line to reach another location. The script is expertly written, not only by expressing the trademark hilarity that the author of the Ace Attorney games is renowned for, but by managing to guide you on your way to the next puzzle. Failure to rescue someone in time is handled brilliantly by well-placed dialogue that hints as to what you should be doing without entirely giving the game away. This is also the case when a puzzle has been partly solved before time runs out, with the characters informing you when you're on the right track. It's impossible to get stuck without any room for progress – Sissel will chip in with a comment if you've missed an opportunity to perform a certain trick and it's just a question of hitting the rewind button to start again. Solving a dilemma after several different approaches is always fulfilling and has that feeling of satisfaction that few games ever achieve.

Conclusion

It may have a few issues towards the end with some of the puzzles requiring a few leaps in lateral thinking (particularly when controlling multiple characters with different abilities) but Ghost Trick is a perfect showcase of what the Nintendo DS can accomplish with the right design. With around fifteen hours of gameplay that keep you compelled to play until the end in combination with a storyline that continues to surprise, Ghost Trick may be crammed full of tricks but is most definitely an absolute treat.

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User Comments (36)

CorbsAdmin

#1

Corbs said:

I picked this one up the other day and I'm quite excited to try it out. Especially now that I see this 9/10 review score. Great work Kim! :D

Shugo

#2

Shugo said:

I just beat this game a few days ago. I thought it was incredible, especially the story. Shu Takumi at his finest; this is definitely a worthy follow-up to Ace Attorney.

Metal_Slugger

#3

Metal_Slugger said:

I love how you click on a screen shot hoping to view it larger, and it's almost smaller looking. :)

theblackdragonAdmin

#4

theblackdragon said:

A well-deserved review. This game is amazing, my only problems with it are that it's so short and the story is wrapped up so tightly in the end that idk what they're going to do about a sequel. I want a sequel to this, dammit, or at least another game featuring the same gameplay... those puzzles were a lot of fun.

i need to play it through again and just explore with the telephone all the time... i hear there's a lot more of the story to be picked up if you do so instead of immediately moving on to exactly where you're supposed to go. :3

homopod

#5

homopod said:

Ghost Trick is now one of my favourite games on DS. Bravo, Takumi-san! It's a masterpiece.

Kid_A

#8

Kid_A said:

I'm really interested in this one, and this review just may have sold me on it. Very well-written review :)

Objection

#9

Objection said:

Excellent review pretty much takes the words out my mouth. Now I just need to get through these last 4 chapters or so...

EdEN

#14

EdEN said:

Need to get the Miles Edgeworth game along with this one for next month...

MeloMan

#15

MeloMan said:

I'm getting back into Gamefly soon, and this is VERY high on my list. I was quite impressed with the demo.

WolfRamHeart

#16

WolfRamHeart said:

Great review! I'm really excited to play this game and I can't wait to get my copy. Hopefully it will be arriving sometime this week. I am dying to try this one out!:)

SpriteKing

#17

SpriteKing said:

Yes! I was hoping this game would be good!
But alas, 3DS is where my money is going to go. :(

Ickaser

#18

Ickaser said:

I loved the demo, so this should have been mine already, were it not for the 3DS. Ah well, I'll just have to procure it sometime later.

bro2dragons

#20

bro2dragons said:

Awesome. You guys need to review 999 now. AMAZING game that more people need to know about.

wildcat

#23

wildcat said:

@nick_gc sadly not the same one although the royalties would come in handy

Ghost Trick really is incredible. Glad you guys like the review

DrakeStaff

#25

Drake said:

Easily within the top 5 DS games I've played, and that is saying quite a bit. I feel like some special mention should also go out to the awesome soundtrack, which is by the same person who did the music for the first Phoenix Wright (It's actually also only the third soundtrack he's ever done, the second being Viewiful Joe).

theblackdragonAdmin

#26

theblackdragon said:

@Drake: it's funny you should say that, because i was just thinking about it the other day -- IMO, the soundtrack was okay at best, but mainly because it reminded me so much of the Phoenix Wright soundtracks. It just felt like yet another set of permutations to me... if i hadn't played the PW games from front to back, maybe i'd'a liked the tunes more. There was just nothing there this time around that really stood out to my ears as truly memorable, not in comparison to what it was being drawn from.

Colors

#27

Colors said:

I love everything about this game, except for the scene with the dead pomeranian

Elxar

#29

Elxar said:

Good game, hope Shu Takumi makes another one may it be a sequel, another original game or comeback to Ace Attorney 5.

xxx_Kirby_xxx

#30

xxx_Kirby_xxx said:

Love this game.
loved it.
So very much.
That I finished it in 3 or 4 days. xDD.
It took me ages to figure out how to save some of the lives, then when I found the solution, I realised they were all painfully simple..... =.="
LOVE MISSILE! ;D

Bass_X0

#32

Bass_X0 said:

Loved the game but its not high on replay value. And the credits music is easily the best in the game.

xxx_Kirby_xxx

#33

xxx_Kirby_xxx said:

Yeah, I kinda agree with you there, Bass, but nonetheless, sooner or later I'm gonna end up replaying it anyways. :P And yes, blackdragon, missiles ARE unstoppable. :)

rhythmheavenfan

#34

rhythmheavenfan said:

Everyone says this is really good, and I'm starting to get really close to buying it. Hopefully I love it as much as everybody else does!

Carnuss

#35

Carnuss said:

Game mechanics is truly unique, I like it, but I get stuck repeatedly, because it's not obvious what I should do next. In such cases only long experimenting (with repeated conversations) and later cheating helps (I mean the uploaded game guides on YouTube).

Weedy

#36

Weedy said:

@za5252ch Hi, I am the person on the other side of the atlantic that you are looking for. I have an NA code. I didn't fancy posting it up on that mega page so figured I could post on a page for an old game. Ghost Trick seemed appropriate. Does this seem like a good place to do business?

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