I am PekoponTAS. I have tourette's syndrome, and I have been a gamer my whole life. My favourite franchise is Kirby, and my all time favourite game is The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX. I'm a big fan of underrated hidden gems, and I tend to have opinions on games that really conflict with the popular opinion. Anyways, glad to meet you all and stuff.
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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is my kind of game. Itís an original I.P with a creative concept, that creative concept works beautifully to create a really fun gameplay mechanic, the story is well written, the characters are well written, and itís on the DS. If that alone hasnít sold you on Ghost Trick, then allow me to go into further detail.
The main theme of Ghost Trick is death. The game opens with you dying and waking up as a ghost, but unfortunately you have no clue who you are, or how you died. A possessed desk lamp teaches you all about your special powers called ďghost tricksĒ, (which include possessing objects, interacting with them, and limited time travel) and how you can use them to figure out your identity and cause of death, which is what you want to find out so you can rest in peace. However you only have until sunrise to do this, because once the sun rises, your spirit will vanish. What follows for the rest of the night is a series of mysteries surrounding a large group of people, all of whom are connected to your death in some way.
That is the very basic premise, and I donít really want to go into too much more detail because I dare not spoil anything. The story is so outstanding that if I give anything away Iíd feel like a bad person. There are a few other things I should talk about plot wise, but before we get to that, letís talk about the gameplay.
Each of the main puzzles starts off the same way. Someone has been killed, and you have to change their fate to stop their death. Your ghost tricks allow you to go back in time to four minutes before a personís death, and itís in those four minutes that you have to interact with your surroundings to change their fate. To interact with objects, you first go to the ghost world and move from object to object until you get to the one you want. Then you exit the ghost world and tap the ďtrickĒ icon. For example, letís say thereís a tennis ball on top of an immobile ceiling fan, and you need that tennis ball to fall off the fan to bonk somebody on the head. There are two ways this can work. The first method would be to posses the tennis ball and use your trick to make it roll off. However if that tennis ball is too far away from you, you wonít be able to reach it, and thus canít posses and interact with it. In this case you could posses the ceiling fan and use your trick to make it spin, thus causing the ball to fall off.
Thatís how the basic concept works, and it works beautifully. The puzzles are really well designed, and thereís a lot of timing involved to make things work out the way they need to. Should you screw up the puzzle, you have the ability to restart and do it again. Thankfully there are checkpoints in each puzzle, so once you get to a certain point, you can go back in time to that point rather than start all over. Thereís a lot of trial and error involved, but the game gives you enough hints to get you on the right track without flat out telling you what to do.
A majority of the deaths youíll prevent are the same accident prone woman named Lynne. Lynne will be your spunky female sidekick for this evening, but unlike other spunky female sidekicks, thatís not her only character trait. Sheís not exactly a complex character, but she acts like a real human being. This can be said for all of the characters, outside of a few personality quirks they have, and that overall makes them much more interesting. They have silliness in them, but theyíre all very believable.
Though really, the main character and Lynne are the best characters, and easily steal the show when theyíre together. (Iím not saying the main characterís name for spoilerific reasons) They have the best chemistry, and seeing as how the main character is kind of dead, they donít force a cheesy romance story into it. When they first meet, they instantly know that they need each otherís abilities to solve both of their problems, but despite that it takes a while before they completely trust each other, and decide to fully team up. The whole time I felt like it had traces of a buddy cop movie in it, just without the whole insanely different personality thing. The characters in Ghost Trick are a real blast, and theyíre one of the best parts of the game.
The best part about the great characters is they have a great story to support them. The story is full of mysteries surrounding nearly every character, and as you figure them all out, you find that theyíre all connected in some way. Itís always interesting to see how a character is connected to your death, and by the last few chapters there are some amazing plot twists that will knock your socks off. During the ending the final pieces are put together, and each revelation blew me away. When the main characterís identity was revealed, I said out loud without being able to control myself...
ďNo wayÖ..NO WAY!Ē
It was the best plot twist I had seen in a game, especially with the revelations that followed it, and how all of a sudden everything made sense. The plot was really well thought out, and I would easily consider it my favourite game story ever.
As if the great characters and great story werenít enough, there are great graphics with stunning animation quality for DS, and great sound to go with it to give some really expressive characters and some really great atmosphere. The story segments had way more impact due to the great animation which gave the characters a lot of personality. The music is what made me get interested each time I turned the game on. For whatever reason I always had a hard time getting myself to play the game, but even though I struggled to turn the game on, I immediately got drawn back into it because of the music that played at the intro of each chapter. I always made sure to stop playing at the end of a chapter because I knew that the music would instantly draw me back into it.
Now do I have any complaints about the game? Well thereís only really one, but it involves spoilers, so I really donít want to give it away. I can be vague and say there is one kind of annoying stealth section thatís made more annoying by the cutscene that follows it. Itís not terrible, or even all that bad. Itís a bit annoying, but in no way affects the overall quality of the game.
As Iíve been typing this, I think I realized why I always had a hard time getting myself to turn the game on. Itís because I knew Iíd have to commit multiple hours of play time before I could tear myself away from it. Itís one of those games that youíll be playing until the early hours of the morning because you always want to know what happens next. While you may finish a chapter, that doesnít always make it a good place to quit. There are only a handful of chapters that donít end with something that makes you want to keep playing, and those were the only chapters I could get myself to take a break. I have never been this interested in a video game story, and I have never been this blown away by plot twists in any game, or even any movie. (Though keep in mind I donít watch a ton of movies, or play too many story heavy games.)
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is about as perfect as it can possibly be, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It only really has one annoying part, and even that part isnít much of a problem. For a game this perfect, and for a game I enjoyed this much, I can give it my highest recommendation. It doesnít get this score just because I liked it, but because it genuinely deserves it.