Capcom, much like Square Enix, has recently started revisiting games lost to the ages. Revisiting classics like Red Earth were greatly appreciated due to its limited initial release. Among the more interesting rereleases were Ace Attorney. While the various releases found some level of success, Shu Takumi other big title, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, has remained in the past. Now that Capcom has brought the beloved DS game to new platforms, is it worth visiting, or was it better left as a ghost?
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective has a rather unusual story. It starts by blending narrative with an overview of gameplay mechanics. The basic idea is you control a spirit named Sissel who decides to figure out the chain of events that resulted in his demise.
The premise itself is nothing special, but journey is well worth taking. In addition to having a far more complicated conclusion than you might expect, the heavy moments are contrasted with well executed comic relief. This starts with Nearsighted Jeego, an assassin that “never misses, as long as the target is within point-blank range,” before moving onto other characters with similar gimmicks. The simplicity is welcome, as is the commitment to the bit.
For all the good, the most dated aspect to Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is how it presents these elements. Instead of a snappy opening that explains rather simple concepts quickly, players take a long detour where everything is expanded upon with excruciating detail. It gets better once you move past the tutorial, though it often feels like these scenes have a fair amount of padding.
Fun animations wear thin after seeing them multiple times, as do reactionary elements. It’s one of those things where the effort adds a certain amount of charm, yet anyone looking forward to the next nugget of information will be turned off by the needless bloat. Similar issues apply to gameplay.
Instead of having control over the world of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, players are limited to a finite number of options. This turns every encounter into an elaborate puzzle. There is often a clear objective, like the first is preventing a girl from being murdered, with others becoming clear overtime. To solve the puzzle Sissel needs to move between objects to accomplish whatever task is at hand.
On a fundamental level I applaud Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective‘s creativity. The solutions often require thinking outside the box and checking every option. It’s fun without feeling overly difficult or demanding.
If there is a downside it’s the finite nature of these puzzles. Similar to the Ace Attorney series, most stages have a a single path to victory. There are a few exceptions, though more often than not it’s moving between objects, finding the right interaction, and repeating this until Sissel’s goal is achieved.
Graphics are surprisingly good considering the age and original platform. It helps a lot that Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective utilizes a stylized look. The strong contrast and often vague details save it from looking dated. It won’t match Capcom’s latest efforts, yet doesn’t quite feel like a decade old game either.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review Verdict
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective isn't a masterpiece, but it's a lot of fun. Gameplay might be on the simpler side, though creative solutions more than make up for it. This, combined with an engaging narrative that doesn't take itself too seriously makes for an adventure fans of Ace Attorney, or story driven puzzle games will surely enjoy. – Mark