Adventure games, it’s a genre of its own. A genre that celebrated its heyday on PC at a time when LucasArts was still at the top and Michael Jackson was still black. Unfortunately, everything eventually falls and in the mid-90s it was the turn of this genre. About the same time as consoles started to go mainstream and 3D modeling became the new standard. I wouldn’t be able to tell you to what extent all this had a direct impact on adventure titles. What I do know is that the genre has been undergoing a minor revival for a while, not on the PC – primeval fathers – but on Nintendo’s DS. After scoring a few top matches with Professor Layton and Ace Attorney, Ghost Trick also dares to score a place among these quirky adventures.
So, what kind of exhibition will we be dealing with this time? Not a lawyer with flashy manga hair or distinguished archaeologists with a minor follower. But well … A corpse. Yes, if the title is too subtle for your taste, the game starts with your freshly blasted body in the middle of a rubbish dump. This makes the protagonist in this game a ghost trying to unravel the mystery of his own death. No problem, you would think, except for one point: he has lost his memory. No, even this title cannot escape the greatest cliché in storytelling history. Fortunately, it is handled with enough tact that we are willing to accept the overuse of this overly simple release mechanism.
More about Ghost Trick
Capcom removes Ghost Trick from the iOS App Store
Update: Available again soon.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review
Emerges from nowhere
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Start with a ‘Game Over’.
What exactly is there to experience? Hanging out is not the world’s most active activity. Well, don’t worry, it turns out that you are one of the chosen ones – yes, I know, just join us – who can use the powers of death. All this is carefully explained by an old desk lamp (don’t ask). In concrete terms, this means two things. To begin with, you can haunt and – in some cases – manipulate any inanimate object. For example, telephones also double as a means of teleportation to get to other locations. Your second force is to bend the time-space continuum with the ability to jump back up to four minutes into the past. Not only useful to knock Einstein’s theory of relativity, but also a nice ‘ you’ towards all determinists of our society.
The main purpose of this manipulation technique is to change fate events. Just because you yourself are reduced to worm food does not mean the same should happen to your loved ones. Sometimes you have to gather information or simply find a way through. In that case, it comes down to using your powers to find a way from point A to B. On the one hand by simply discussing everything and seeing what the effect is, on the other hand by analyzing the behavior of your environment (and its people). and use it for your own good. Other times – and these are the most interesting – someone has been knocked out and you have to steal Pietje De Dood’s trophy. First you get to see the full course of how the poor wretch on duty came to an end, after which you and your forces must intervene to change destiny. Don’t worry, you can try again whenever and as often as you like.
Everything takes place over the course of one night. Ghost or not, your time on earth is limited. As soon as the sun rises, our transparent hero disappears into thin air. That time plays a major element in the game is an understatement. Still, a reassurance for people who are in their pants as soon as a meter starts running: there is no unforgivable timer system. The passage of time is linked to the fixed sequence of actions from the past, not to the hourglass that is prominently displayed on your screen. In addition, a resit requires no more than a simple push of a button. In addition, time stands still as long as you activate your ‘ghost view’, so plenty of thinking time. Because the whole thing takes place in one night, the countless plot twists follow each other in rapid succession, so that the game will not leave your handheld before the credits roll over your retina.
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I can’t say more about the story, any other info would be a spoiler. Just know this: it is a meticulously pieced together story with numerous individuals playing their part in a greater whole. A piece of classic noir detective, a touch of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Momento’ and a thick layer of delicious nonsense. The dialogues are written smoothly and are simply full of humor. Mind you, it’s still a 12+ game, so don’t expect our ghost friend to visit the women’s wardrobes. Just like Ace Attorny or Professor Layton, you could assign the title to the genre ‘visual novella’ or ‘interactive novella’ in addition to ‘adventure’. This of course also means: text, a lot of text. You are for it or not.