Adventure Corner ~ Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Welcome to Adventure Corner, a column where members of the RPGamer staff can give their thoughts, impressions, and pseudo-reviews for various adventure titles that don’t come under our usual coverage. Adventure Corner is aimed at delivering opinions on a wide range of titles including visual novels, point-and-click adventures, investigative mysteries, and so forth.
In this edition of the column we take a look at Capcom’s Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, a remaster of the Nintendo DS supernatural mystery adventure created by Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Capcom’s HD remaster of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective will be the first time many players may play the game, which initially released back in 2010. This newest release is certainly my first time entering its mystery world and this game has many tricks up its sleeve. Players familiar with classic “whodunnit” tales with puzzle solving elements will feel right at home with this title.
Ghost Trick’s introduction throws players into the thick of it. The main protagonist, Sissel, is introduced as a ghost and immediately has to race against time to save Lynne, a young spirited detective. She often tends to be at the center of trouble and creates extra work for Sissel. However, the comedic and enjoyable interactions between them showcase good characterization. Players will meet many other casts of characters with wacky personalities and a flare for theatrics. This motif of character introductions carries throughout as the story unfolds.
Sissel’s goal across the game is to regain his lost memories and many times has to perform selfless acts to help others on his journey of self-discovery. It is through these selfless acts players are introduced to new characters and become more involved on a quest to learn more about Sissel and the story as a whole. As players progress through the story, questions get answered and more questions get asked as the plot continues to develop and intensify with each puzzle solved. Questions like how did Sissel end up as a ghost? Why is there a hitman chasing after Lynne? Without going into spoiler territory, let’s just say players are in for a treat in learning the truth.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective’s does an incredible job of introducing unique characters and creating drama with each chapter. Sissel serves as the narrator, helping set the scene for each plot development and puzzle that is needing to be solved. While the cast of characters compliment the intriguing and well-paced story, the “ghost trick” puzzles themselves provide a different element to the game’s enjoyment.
Most mystery games involve solving puzzles as part of finding clues in order to progress the story. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is no different. But what is unique about Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is Sissel’s spirit form manipulating objects to change events and characters’ fates. The tutorials in the beginning help players understand the concept, but the work involved in changing a someone’s fate can be taxing. Players have to constantly switch to ghost view to see what objects can be interacted with and how to reach others.
The game is forgiving if players make mistakes and don’t complete the objectives in time to help save a character from sudden death. Players can simply restart from the beginning or from various fate changing checkpoints. Many of the fate changing puzzle sequences are tied to going back in time for the last four minutes in order to understand what happened and how to change it. The game is more than happy for players to restart puzzle challenges, and it can require players brute force their way through myriad combinations of interacting with objects to make something happen.
Sissel and the characters he interacts with, such as Lynne, often give hints to players with a red font of important pieces of information to consider. Some characters may even voice out what to do as players problems solve their way through puzzles. The puzzle challenges can be a little frustrating at times, and not all of the puzzles are easy to solve or as obvious as the characters might hint at. Many of the actions are irreversible, and players will have to restart if they do make a mistake on these.
The start of each puzzle can be a bit overwhelming as players need to learn how everything is related and how sequences tie together, while further difficulty comes when player needs to interact with moving characters and objects. Fans of puzzle solving may welcome this different take on object manipulation while racing against the clock. The puzzle solving is rewarding, especially once the sequence of events plays out and a grim fate is averted, but those that aren’t fans of time-limited puzzles may find the restriction frustrating. It is nonetheless satisfying to see the events playout and see characters change and more of the story unfold.
Speaking of satisfying, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective has an excellent musical score. The synthesizing keyboards truly contribute to the suspense and mystery aesthetic. The electric guitar also adds a great melody and insinuates something is about to go down in the story. The HD remaster also gives players the opportunity to enjoy great music outside of gameplay through its music player option. The music player allows players to select all the music to play and swap between the original and arranged versions.
The anime-style artwork of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is very eye-catching and great to see. The visual animations of the character movements are well done and truly adds to the “ghost tricks” gameplay element. The puzzles come more alive through the quality of the HD animations when certain sequences play out. There isn’t any voiceover narration or dialogues between characters, though at times players may hear action-related voices during puzzle sequences. The UI works well, with a large text font that is easy to read.
Overall, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective delivers a delightful and tricky story that fans of mystery and character development will truly enjoy, and the story delivers a compelling narrative that will keep players enthralled to the very end. The difficulty of the puzzle challenges might create frustrations when having to redo the same puzzle multiple times after many failed attempts. The hints do help with puzzle progression, but after so many failed fate changes it would be nice to see to see a hint that guides the player to solve the puzzle in order to progress the story. However, the fun of solving the puzzle outright and the satisfaction of changing a character’s fate remains high. The HD remaster produces a high-quality game with memorable characters that players will enjoy. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective creates a rewarding experience for all fans of the mystery genre and is a must play for those that love challenging puzzles with a supernatural flavour.
Disclosure: This article is based on a free copy of the game provided by the publisher.