Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

2:01 AM on 10.24.2013 // Aerox

Court is back in session

Previous entries in the Ace Attorney series never examined the legal system beyond surface commentary. Apollo Justice came close when it examined the idea and consequences of a jurist system (something Japan was about to re-implement at the time, and an idea disappointingly dropped completely from this installment), and Justice for All posed an ethical dilemma in its final case when Phoenix discovered his client was actually guilty (although the solution to that dilemma was a cop-out). However, these themes and ideas were introduced in the games' final cases, usually brought out as a surprise near the end, and touched upon only briefly. 

Dual Destinies uses all five cases to discuss much broader themes that are directly relevant to the real-world legal system. Despite the inherent ridiculousness of the Phoenix Wright series' depictions of a courtroom, with over the top witnesses, constant objections, and streamers and confetti as a verdict is announced, Dual Destinies actually raises some valid questions about the legal process and how our courtrooms work. As someone who has been involved in numerous criminal trials and has been on both sides of the courtroom in murder cases, I've confronted these issues head-on through my own work, and I was pleasantly surprised to see them discussed in an over-the-top fictional courtroom game.

What happens when and if the public loses trust in the legal system entirely? How do you define justice? And, most importantly, what happens when "winning" becomes more important than finding the truth?

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies (3DS [eShop Only; 4432 blocks])
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
To be released: October 24, 2013
MSRP: $29.99

Dual Destinies takes place after the events of Apollo Justice, in a time that the game refers to (over, and over, and over) as the "Dark Age of the Law." Shortly after Phoenix's disbarment in the early events of Apollo Justice for unintentionally producing false evidence thanks to Kristoph, Simon Blackquill, a rising star of the prosecutor's office, was indicted and found guilty of murder. Because of his talents, he's still allowed to try cases while incarcerated, and is your main opponent in this installment of the series. 

With two of the best attorneys on both sides of the aisle disgraced, the public loses faith in the system. Attorneys begin resorting to underhanded tactics to win cases -- if Phoenix Wright was fabricating evidence to save his clients, why shouldn't they? If defense attorneys are going to fabricate evidence, the prosecution needs to find a way to secure convictions. If the prosecution is convicting by any means necessary, defense attorneys have to fabricate evidence to defend the innocent.

It becomes a vicious cycle, and gets to the point the top legal academy in the country begins training it students to win at all costs, teaching that the ends always justify the means. It's our own legal system taken to the extreme -- while nothing in American jurisprudence is as blatant or overt as what occurs in Phoenix Wright, we're reminded that we still live in a country where local prosecutors are often politicians looking to move up, and defense attorneys are paid to defend their client at all costs. It's in a similar environment Dual Destinies takes place -- Apollo, Phoenix, and new attorney Athena Cykes try cases, defend clients, and try to put an end to the Dark Age of the Law while sticking to their morals.

The structure of the game will be familiar to any who have played any of the previous installments. After a short, courtroom-only introductory case, the rest of the cases play out similarly -- an anime cutscene introduces the murder, Phoenix, Apollo, and/or Athena show up on scene to investigate, and then present their findings in a courtroom sequence. For longer cases, an additional investigation/courtroom sequence or two are added, but the general structure remains the same.

Investigative portions play out like they always have: you move from area to area, interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence to them, gathering ammunition for court. Certain areas, usually the actual scenes of the crime, allow you to search the whole room in a point-and-click style sequence reminiscent of classic adventure games. After you've thoroughly searched the required areas and spoken to all of the necessary witnesses, the game moves to the courtroom phase.

There aren't many changes to the courtroom action either, where gameplay primarily consists of the cross-examination of witnesses. As you discover contradictions in witness testimony, you present evidence to blow their statements out of the water or, when you don't have evidence, bluff your way through the examination by selecting the appropriate responses from small dialogue prompts. It's simple, it's basic, and it works, just like it has in the four previous installments.

The one significant new addition to witness examination comes from Athena Cykes, who can use her robot, Widget, and her skills in analytical psychology to read the emotions of a witness as they testify. During these sequences, you listen to a witnesses testimony while monitoring their four basic emotions -- joy, anger, sadness, and surprise, and look to find where their emotions (or lack thereof) don't match the testimony they're giving. Back on the investigative side, Apollo Justice's bracelet, which allows you to observe a witness in slow motion to look for physical tells that show they're lying. Phoenix's Magatama and the Psyche-Lock system also make a relatively brief return. 

On the whole, Dual Destinies is an extremely strong addition to the series, and my favorite Ace Attorney game so far. The cohesive themes and narrative tie the game's cases together more strongly than any previous title, and I think the final case just barely beats the Case 5 of Trials and Tribulations in terms of drama and surprise. New prosecutor Simon Blackquill is a solid addition to the series, although I don't think he can stand up to Godot or Edgeworth.

The real standout is Athena. Initially introduced as an assistant attorney, Athena's background and her story soon become the core focus of Dual Destinies. While the Ace Attorney series frequently slips into stereotypes and caricature, particularly with witnesses, Athena makes for a unique character who's history, motivations, behavior, and eventual story arc may be the most well rounded of any characters in the franchise.

Unfortunately, Dual Destinies still occasionally suffers from the same problem all of the previous games have had -- there are times when you piece together the mystery several steps ahead of the game, and get bogged down trying to figure out what you need to do next because you can't leap straight to your conclusion. You can't present the decisive piece of evidence you know will break the witness too early, because the game's script demands that you do otherwise. Similarly, events in the investigative phase often won't trigger until one very specific piece of evidence has been shown to a certain witness, and the game isn't always clear that this needs to happen for you to move forward. However, these incidents are relatively rare, particularly compared to the previous games, and don't cause significant trouble beyond brief annoyances.

Finally, those who might have gotten excited upon hearing the game had received the series' first ever M rating from the ESRB should temper their enthusiasm. Just like every other game in the Ace Attorney series, every case in Dual Destinies involves murder, but there's nothing I'd consider overly graphic. My guess is either that the ESRB is simply inconsistent in its ratings, or the M comes from the stories of two separate witnesses who for whatever reason concerned someone at the ESRB: one witness is revealed to be a different gender than initially presented (their parents forced them to live as the opposite gender and the game leaves it at that), and another character hints at a same-sex attraction. Both issues are given cursory examination, and then the cases move forward. In any event, aside from the murder present in every game in the series, there's nothing here that's inappropriate for teenagers under 17.

However, even though it's not a new, gritty, ultra-violent courtroom drama, Dual Destinies delivers exactly what I wanted from a new Ace Attorney game. Interesting new cases, great new characters, lots of twists and surprises, and what is ultimately an excellent work of interactive fiction. Topped off with beautiful 3D animations, an unsurprisingly excellent soundtrack, and some great anime sequences that highlight major moments in each case, Dual Destinies is not to be missed.



Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies - Reviewed by Aerox
Entrancing - It's like magic, guys. Time disappears when this game and I are together, and I never want it to end. I'm not sure if this is a love that will last forever, but if it is, you'll get no complaints from me.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

  Aug 07

Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies announced for iOS

Phoenix Wright destined to return to mobile devices very soon

  Jul 26

You must defend this whale that's been accused of MURDER

One of the first major DLCs for Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies

  Jul 03

Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies screens are looking sharp

Both the white suit and the spear impaling that other guy

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

So that just happened: The Talos Principle

Sick, Sad and just dumb news: 25th October - Leighapalooza

Context Matters! Fanservice's Secrets EXPOSED!

To editorialize or not to editorialize: An editorial

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons REVIEW - The Pocket Metroidvania

Cblogs of 11/24/15 + Big Ass Fort

Primal Carnage: Extinction Review (PS4)

Belated Spoiler-Free SOMA Review

Friday Night Fights: The Blackest Of Fridays

Super Destructoid Community Interviews Hyper Encore ##Reload

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Photos and videos are back on quickposts but clipping on some devices. We're going to add a new quickpost editing interface so photos and videos can only be displayed one way (a la twitter) to solve this. Also, a My cBlog link was added to your user menu
Flegma avatarFlegma
Machine-washed my Wii Fit meter yesterday by accident. Took the battery out and let it dry for the night. Luckily the meter still worked - but it had counted a fair number of steps more that day.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Finally killed Ludwig, now if I could only get passed the 2 hunters on the second floor. that 2 some is rather annoying,and her holy blade kills in only a few hits. wish mine was that strong.
Casus Gaming avatarCasus Gaming
After reading a blog post about DMC4 I decided to watch all the cutscenes on Youtube. Tried the games years ago and couldn't get into them, but man that shit was stylish. Likeable protagonists, intense drama... still think DmC reboot wasn't that bad tho.
lewness avatarlewness
me on 1st ff14 raid (void ark): ooh so many people and lights, so many lights, lights, fuck I can't see, what is happening, i don't understand, is it tuesday already, get on the platform fuuuuck, wow void helm
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Just a reminder that you have until the 30th to get your Bloggers Wanted post, "Thankful it's over" in. I'm either going to tell you how I ruined my best online gaming experience or rip Twilight Princess a new one. Maybe both.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Huh. I just found out the developers of Hatred (remember that controversy?) region-locked their game to prevent it from being accessed by Australians. Destructive Creations are more censor-happy than Nintendo, it seems. Where's the outrage?
Oh yeah, I have an account on this site.
Parismio avatarParismio
Ever wanted to get that item behind that safe in the beginning of Fallout 4?:
Shinta avatarShinta
Got Resident Evil 4 Wii for $5. Uh ... this might be my favorite version. I'm just getting headshots nonstop. Did I miss any other Wii games that are frequently overlooked? Like, really obscure Wii games that no one talks about? I'm interested.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Poeple due not aprecciate teh hrdships of bein a squid.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Guys, check out your blogs! Just be sure to bring tissues. I wish I had. [img][/img]
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Anyone see the new Captain America trailer? It's pretty dope!
Shinta avatarShinta You're welcome.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Update: played through Hyper Dimension Neptunia Rebirth, reminded why I don't like the series, and requested a refund on it and its sequel. Not sure if they'll refund the sequel, but if they honor at least the first, I'll use that money to get Undertale.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
I hope the new Star Wars movie answers the biggest question I have about the franchise; do Midi-Chlorians poop?
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Wow, I feel really stupid. You had to give the Zora King the bottle with the letter in it. Like actually equip the... Wow. Oh, modern gaming conveniences, how I take you for granted.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Srry abot tye lak of coments latly. As a squid now it haas bcom hrrd 2 tipe. Im a sqiid now.
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Backing Indivisible can be done with more than just money. Strapped for cash? then spread the word! post about it on Facebook, Instagram, tweet or simply tell your friends. Head to
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Even with the help of an old hunter I can only knock ludwig to his holy blade phase -_- I will kill the jerk, even if it takes me all night.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -