Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective on the Nintendo DS has solid gameplay
- Interesting story, excellent animation, well-localised dialogue is actually funny
- Some levels involve more waiting than puzzling, cutscenes are unskippable, story gets preachy toward the end
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a quirky adventure-puzzler from Capcom luminary Shu Takumi that boasts a charming sense of humour and a unique, if sometimes frustratingly implemented, gameplay gimmick.
Calling do-overs is usually the last resort of a sore loser, but the main character in Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective has plenty to be sore about in only the first three minutes of gameplay: Shot dead in a junkyard for reasons unknown, with absolutely no memories to clue him in.
Fortunately, Sissel (who doesn't remember his real name, either) has the mystical power to call "do-overs" in a way that takes him back four minutes in time before a person's death. Using magical "ghost trick" powers in the past, he can possess objects and manipulate them in a way that off-sets the chain of events leading to a person's untimely end. The only problem is, he cannot work his own magic on himself -- and nearly everyone he comes into contact with over the course of the game winds up dead at one point or another in connection with some big mystery that ultimately lies at the heart of his own death.
The premise sounds silly -- especially if you try to articulate it to somebody on public transit who asks you what the game is "about" -- but once the story gets going, Ghost Trick gets pretty exciting, and the solid gameplay backs it up. Each "chapter" involves one to three "ghost trick" puzzles where Sissel must move objects in order to reach an objective or trigger an event that reveals another tantalising clue, plus several explanatory cutscenes introducing him to new characters in the plot. Nearly everyone Sissel meets is somehow a part of the big mystery, and most of them have well-written dialogue that keeps things interesting -- even when you have to repeat a puzzle or six.
That's the thing about calling do-overs: you usually have to repeat yourself. Many of the more advanced puzzles in Ghost Trick after about Chapter 5 require you to either fail completely or come right down to the wire to find the right timing of events in order for Sissel to execute a life-saving ghost trick. Even then, an early mistake in your puzzle-solving might blow an entire sequence of events and you'll have to hit the hourglass icon to reset the puzzle back to the beginning -- which gets old if you've worked yourself into the same dead end of a puzzle more than twice. This is probably Ghost Trick's worst weakness: Unlike the Phoenix Wright games where you can rely on the process of elimination, or the Professor Layton games where you can pay for clues, Ghost Trick puzzles have only one solution -- and until you find it, you're doomed to fail a puzzle over and over again.
For example, a life-saving puzzle late in the game forces you to sit through all four minutes of a dialogue-heavy sequence and doesn't offer you a way to solve the puzzle until the final second -- which you might miss because when the scenario timer started flashing "3-2-1," you hit the hourglass icon before it got to "0," which is where the game finally offers you the solution. Patience isn't a virtue we associate with gamers, but Ghost Trick expects you to have plenty of it.
Fortunately, the game only has about three hair-pulling puzzles where you might find yourself rage-quitting (remember to save before you do; skipping cutscenes isn't an option), and if the mystery hooks you like it hooked me, you'll stick around until you figure them out. The conclusion the plot hurtles toward you may not be one you saw coming (I didn't), but the satisfaction of getting there cancels out all the tufts of hair you ripped out along the way working out the tougher puzzles.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Google Pixel 3a review: Less is more
- 2 Moto G7 review: The new gold standard for budget buyers
- 3 Sony Bravia 2017 TVs: Full, in-depth review
- 4 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
Latest News Articles
- Riot reveal the existence of Project F (but that's about it)
- Riot announce Arcane - a League of Legends animated series
- Riot teases first new IP with the mysterious “Project A”
- Riot are still working on that League of Legends fighting game
- League of Legends Esports Manager is in development
PCW Evaluation Team
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
- Happy iPhone Day: Here's everything Apple just announced
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Australian review (2019)
- Best true wireless earbuds: Jabra vs Sony vs Beats
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies