Visual novels are often a somewhat forgotten genre, especially games that come out without a lot of release promotion. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective was just a game when it originally came out on Nintendo DS in 2010. The game was written by Shu Takumi, known for the Phoenix Wright series. Since its release, Phantom Detective has gained huge popularity among adventure fans and with this enhanced re-release, the game is now getting a second chance to reach a wider audience. Which is a good thing, because the game is definitely worth the candle!
Back in the 2010s, Ghost Trick was known for its inventive puzzles, mystical storyline, and quirky and funny characters. Not a reason to change the gameplay too much. So Capcom focused on quality of life updates like faster scripts, upgraded music, improved visuals, and a solid 60 frames per second.
For those who have not played or heard of the game, we explain the story briefly. In Ghost Trick Phantom Detective, you play Sissel, or rather, Sissel’s ghost. He just died at the hands of a killer and he doesn’t know exactly who he was, what he was doing in that place, and why he was killed. Then a strange entity guides him and tells him that he has 24 hours to figure everything out before continuing on to the afterlife. In addition, he can also prevent further murders with the help of time manipulation and tries to cooperate with his red-haired girlfriend.
To know it all, Sissel has some powers like manipulating time to go back in time a few minutes and grabbing and jumping from one object to another. You can even talk to those who have just died. With simple interactions, you can thus manipulate your environment and give new life to some recently deceased friends.
The way you play through the story is unique and very entertaining, even after thirteen years. All of the characters are quirky, funny, and interesting to get to know. Not only that, but the plot twists and story climax are all the more reason to work your way through a whole series of mind-blowing puzzles. Speaking of those puzzles, they are all based on the rules that you learned at the beginning of the game, so once you master those mechanics, you can play the whole game.
Thus, the mechanics are also minimal for you to maneuver through the game. Sissel can move from object to object within a short distance and trigger small interactions. Like ringing a bicycle bell, opening a closet door, or doing something. These differences in the world, albeit minimal, ensure that the main characters are directed to the right place, or even, at the right timing, that they can be saved from a trip to your ghost world. You don’t have to worry about having a bad ending either, as you can rewind time as many times as you want to a point that seems right for you to experience the puzzle again.
As with the original, we gave it a try the moment we got into new territory. All the little interactions and differences that make the items so innovative and finding the right combination to complete a chapter is always a pleasure to find. On the other hand, it was also unfortunately exciting, because in the end you only have one solution to solve the puzzle, and one incorrectly positioned object or movement can cause it to start over. Fortunately, the chapters themselves are very short and easy to run between each other, but rather without having to rewind time dozens of times. Thanks to the checkpoint system, you can skip a few steps so you don’t have to redo everything every time.
All movements and characters sound great thanks to the HD remaster and the audio has also undergone a major upgrade to meet today’s standards. If you compare the graphics with the old DS version, you won’t hesitate for two seconds to play this version. The audio has also been completely revamped and the sound is perfect during every type of scene, from casual conversations to puzzles. Somewhat strangely, there is no voiceover for the characters, which is often the case in contemporary visual novels. It was interesting to be able to hear some of the characters’ voices, even though you talk so much and hear different conversations over time (sometimes with your own twist) that it can get pretty interesting in the long run.
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