GAMES - Review
17:08 - 22nd March 2013, by Amanda Young

Ghost Trick

The Phoenix Wright series should need no introduction for hardened gamers and Japanese culture fans - the games had a quirky sense of humour, that, when coupled with the point and click style of gameplay and absorbing plot, led to one seriously entertaining franchise. It's even spawned a cross over with the mammoth Professor Layton series - if that's not a sure-fire sign of popularity, we don't know what is.

So, when we heard that the creator of the aforementioned stellar series, Shu Takumi, was working on something new, we knew it would be worth a look. And so, Ghost Trick enters the gaming market with some seriously high expectations.

One of the first things you'll notice about the game, before you become immersed in its storyline or the gameplay itself, is the remarkably fluid movements of its characters. The animation quality here has to be seen to be believed, and each character has their own, fluid style for getting from A to B, neatly establishing their personalities almost effortlessly, whilst also helping showing off the skill of the games developers at the same time. Whether it's a hot shot detective who moves like Elvis, or a portly drama queen who continually toasts herself with an oversized brandy snifter, serious attention has been lavished on the way that Ghost Trick looks, trumping Phoenix Wright's somewhat more static visuals right from the off.

But of course, that doesn't count for anything if the plot and gameplay aren't there to back it up. Luckily, Ghost Trick has a thriller of a mystery up its sleeve, as you play the part of a recently deceased character who has no memory of who he is or why he has been killed. With the clock ticking down to morning - and his total disappearance from the earth - he has to uncover the secrets behind his final moments in order to rest in peace, literally! Handily, as a recently deceased, disembodied spirit, he has the ability to possess inanimate objects with his soul, using them to perform 'tricks', thereby navigating across the screen and triggering events. For example, you might have to possess a Christmas star that plays music and triggers a dog to bark, or jump into a spinning ornament that allows you to travel higher in the air the faster you make it spin.

It's not just about simply jumping from item to item, though - you'll be called on to save the lives of the recently departed by travelling back in time four minutes before their death to avert tragedy. First of all, you'll watch the sad events unfold, before then getting the chance to change fate by influencing what happens using your ghost trick ability. There's a lot of trial and error involved here, as you may have to try several different things before you actually achieve success, so the chronically impatient may want to give this a miss. But for those with endurance and a love of experimentation, this is absorbing fun.

As expected from the creators of Phoenix Wright, the anime style is polished and slick, with some great character art being used in scenes of dialogue - of which there is plenty. Expect to spend lots of time just clicking on the 'next' button as characters natter on - this is definitely wordy.

Whilst this is very different in terms of gameplay to Phoenix Wright, fans of that series should definitely check this out, as it's fun, innovative and absorbing. Plus, it's one heck of a stunner - a last hurrah for the DS before its 3D predecessor is launched this spring!

Who'd have thought possession was dead good fun?
SCORE: 4/5
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