After bringing the beloved Phoenix Wright trilogy and the great Ace Attorney Chronicles to the PlayStation, it seemed only right for Capcom to follow them up with Shu Takumi’s lesser-known work. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, originally released on the Nintendo DS in 2010, is the definition of a cult classic. Held in high regard by critics and fans alike, it has now been given the remaster treatment, soon to be released on modern consoles. We were fortunate enough to get early access to a playable demo which, while short, is enough to get us excited to finally experience the full game for ourselves.
For those who don’t know, Ghost Trick shares a lot of DNA with the Ace Attorney series. Part visual novel and part point-and-click adventure, it’s far from the most challenging game, but what it lacks in action it makes up for with its interesting visuals and colorful characters. You play as Sisal, a man who has just been killed. In the realm of the dead, he has forgotten all about his life, but he soon learns about some special new abilities that may help him solve the mystery of his own murder.
The title of the game refers to the ‘tricks’ Sissel can pull in his spectral form. Place certain objects in the environment, and you’ll be given the option to activate a move. For example, playing chords on a guitar, or scaling a ladder. Using these items is one thing, but getting them can sometimes be a puzzle in itself; You can only keep things within your reach. You’ll need to use these tricks to navigate and interact with the land of the living and, ultimately, to get to the bottom of what’s going on and why Sisal was killed.
The character’s agency in the real world is limited, and this is well reflected in the gameplay. Just to get through a room, you may need to move certain objects using their moves to create a path that you can cross. there are just Enough objects to experiment with that you’ll want to explore your options, but it never gets too complicated. Although this is a slightly more active game than Ace Attorney, it is not by much.
The demo contains the opening two chapters of Ghost Trick. It’s perfect for setting up the mystery, introducing the main characters, and leaving players on a cliffhanger. After completing the second phase, we are definitely ready to see where the story goes.
At the scene of Sissel’s death is an unknown woman and an assassin trying to kill her. The bad news is that he does just that. The good news is that, in addition to using your ghostly abilities to manipulate things in the present, you can go back in time four minutes before someone died. During these sequences, your focus shifts slightly – how can you influence the scene and save the victim?
Whether it’s playing timed sections or advancing the plot in the present, the opening chapters move fairly quickly, with amusing dialogue and dynamic scenes playing out onscreen. Having said that, the pressure is low here. You can replay those four-minute sequences as often as you need to get the solution, and there are plenty of hints available if you want them. It definitely feels like Ghost Trick’s priority is making sure you can get through its story rather than presenting it with complex, pace-slowing puzzles. We’ve only had a taste of what’s in store, though, and we’re sure things will get even tougher.
As mentioned, this is a remaster of a 12-year-old game (running in the RE engine, no less), and it looks great. Image quality is very crisp, and animation looks good with titles locked at 60 frames per second. The aspect ratio keeps the action in 4:3, so hopefully you don’t mind playing with the borders, but it’s hardly an issue.
Anyway, the most encouraging thing about our time with the demo is that we wanted to keep playing after it ended. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective makes a solid first impression, setting up an intriguing mystery with that familiar Ace Attorney charm. Roll on June 30th.
Thanks to Capcom for giving us the opportunity to play the Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective demo early. The full game will be released for PS4 on June 30, 2023, and the demo version is available for everyone now. Will you be playing this cult classic? Feel free to comment section below.
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