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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

There are few games that start off with the featured protagonist immediately getting killed to kick off the narrative, but leave it to Capcom and the director of the Ace Attorney games to start with that little trick. The idea behind Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is that the main character, Sissel, has been murdered at the start of the game and wakes up as a ghost. His mission is to not only solve his own murder before time runs out, but also save the lives of people in danger of being killed because of something that he put in motion. Unfortunately, Sissel canít remember anything about his current situation, only that he has died and that thereís a dangerous assassin still on the loose. Fortunately, Sissel can still interact with the corporal world to stop the deadly killer.

ghost trick phantom detective sisselIn many ways, Sissel is something of a friendly Graveling (Dead Like Me), designing elaborate Rube Goldberg cause and effect situations that result in saving a life. His abilities are contained to wiggling objects, pushing objects or moving them short distances. The game is designed for you to figure out how objects will interact with each other based on the constraints of Sisselís ghost tricks. In addition to basic interaction with the world, Sissel can also inhabit the bodies of fallen victims and rewind time back by 4 minutes before their death in an attempt to change fate. Thereís no failure penalty for dying yet again, so you just have to rely on trial and error to correctly guess the right series of events. Taking out murderers before they can kill your victims is definitely a balancing act at times. They will become aware of Sisselís presence, get freaked out and kill the victim early if you arenít thinking clearly about how to methodically kill them first.

The game is fairly heavy with dialogue and it works well to capture your attention. There are also some fun twists along the way that will help you think a bit more creatively for the tougher puzzles. But it also helps if you can think clearly and logically. I could see how the difficulty would be tougher for younger players, even those used to the Phoenix Wright series. I did wish, however, that puzzles had multiple solutions. Each puzzle only has a single solution and finding it becomes troublesome if you have to repeat scenarios over and over. The saving system is pretty good, but be careful of quitting in frustration only to find out that you have to repeat the entire level. That simple power-off slider on the NDS can be a little too alluring at times, especially when hitting a wall on a puzzle.


Visually, the graphical design of Sisselís ghost world is captivating and shockingly fluid for a NDS title. Watching a series of events unfold as you place objects around the environment is certainly entertaining. You also have to consider timing of object movement, pretty fantastic for a NDS game. The color palette is very bright and the extensive use of shadows offers an excellent noir quality to the presentation. In addition, there are many stylistic choices to the design that add dramatic flair to the narrative. The game also runs extremely smoothly and load times are quick.


There are no voiceovers in the game, despite the dialogue heavy story. Thatís not surprising and I actually prefer the silence compared to the poor voicework in other similar games. On the flip side, much of the emotion of the characters is conveyed through music and this is fantastic. The score does a superb job of setting the mood during the tense murders and bringing life to the graphically animated world.


The biggest fault of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is not a poor gameplay experience, but rather one thatís over a bit too quickly. You are looking at about 4 to 5 hours to complete the entire story on the first time though, a bit more or less depending on your ability to connect the dots with logic. In addition, thereís nothing beyond the story to extend the life of the title. However, the presentation quality, entertaining narrative and involving gameplay is definitely enough to warrant a playthrough. If you enjoy games like the Phoenix Wright series, donít hesitate to pick up Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective and knock it out via a weekend rental.

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