In a brilliant move by Capcom, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, easily one of my top three Nintendo DS games is back on modern consoles, and it’s just as excellent of a game as it was over ten years ago. Directed by Shu Takami, the same mind behind the Ace Attorney saga, Ghost Trick is a brilliantly unique take on the adventure genre as it puts you into the role of a recently deceased detective who can’t seem to be ready for the afterlife.
It’s one of the most out there of Capcom’s premises, and that’s exactly why it shines, because its execution is downright fantastic: you get to rewind time back a few moments before someone’s death in order to prevent it, and by doing so, you start to unravel the reason why you were offed in the first place. You get to possess a number of items strewn in the environment, and by liking them together, you’re able to Rube Goldberg the outcome to your favor.
The main thrust of the adventure in Ghost Trick is keeping a very clumsy gumshoe from getting herself killed in a variety of ways as she investigates her way into a dangerous conspiracy that somehow has something to do with your own death. This is the sort of premise that starts out simple but quickly evolves into a much more complex affair the further you get into the game, and let me tell you, it is very much worth sticking your nose into this one.
Ghost Trick makes the leap from the DS’ limited screen to current gen consoles and PC with flying colors, or better yet, sharper ones, as it’s now in eye-watering high definition, but bizarrely not widescreen, 4:3 ratio exclusively, for some reason. What was previously mapped to the stylus is now well adapted to controller or keyboard and mouse, and for as simple as the controls are, it would be easy to mess things up and slow the action down even more.
That’s thankfully not the case and selecting the limited interactions that you’ll have with the items in your reach works extremely well, as intended. But you’re bound to ask me what makes this game so special if it’s that simple to play in the first place. Well, for starters, it’s the writing. Ghost Trick is a monster of a game in terms of story and character development. It’s no surprise it is that good considering Takami’s track record with Phoenix Wright, which are some of the best written stories in gaming, bar none.
Then there’s the sheer absurdity of the situations that you’re plopped into as a hapless ghost, such as using a bunch of junk in a scrapyard in order to keep an assassin from shooting someone, like at the start of the game, or attempting to save a cute little pup by taking over a serving tray on wheels. What this game has in store for your brain to bust is absolutely a blast to figure out and get through as efficiently as possible, giving you the chance to get better at solving puzzles by having you replay them in a separate game mode.
On the other hand, this might come off as a negative to more impatient players who aren’t at all eager to play a game where trial and error is a part of its gameplay. And to that effect, I can relate, but it’s made as slight of an annoyance as possible by offering you a very quick rewind function that puts you back at the beginning at a button’s touch.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a must-play for anyone looking to enjoy a good brain twister. It’s got a deceptively simple premise that unfolds into a mystery you won’t want to put down until you finally solve it, and when you do you’ll go back to it and try to find faster and whittier ways to do so. This game is that good. There’s nothing quite like it and probably will never be.