Capcom’s latest puzzling adventure with Ghost Trick

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For those not in the know, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is the latest game to come from the mind of Shu Takumi, the creator of the extremely popular Ace Attorney series for the DS. Both games share much in common, with murders and mystery providing the driving force behind all that happens. However, unlike Ace Attorney, Ghost Trick doesn’t star the here and now adventures of some spiky haired lawyer, it stars the recently dead Sissel, a dead dude with no knowledge for his former existence and ready to stop his fate from impacting others.

So for Ghost Trick, the end is just the beginning. It’s a dark tale with a special twist, and Capcom is hoping that fans of Phoenix Wright will want to give this spectral tale a try when it launches outside of Japan this winter.

Follow the jump for our hands-on impressions of Ghost Trick.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS)
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
To be released: Winter 2010

Within moments of starting the game, the main character Sissel is nothing more than a dead man with ass in air and a ludicrous red suit to double the shame. Life is gone, but that’s not the end of the line. Through the advice of a talking lamp (inorite?), Sissel discovers that he has the ability to posses devices, animals and dead people, as well as “trick” certain objects to perform actions to solve puzzles. As a spectral being, Sissel cannot exactly move far, as he can only jump from device to device within a defined radius, but combined with his “trick” ability, levels become an adventure puzzle for Sissel to save the day for other recently dead.

In each level, a person has just been murdered, and using Sissel’s special ability to enter the last four minutes of their lives and try to change their fate fate. For example, in the first level, female lead Lynne is shot by a nearsighted assassin. By jumping from object to object, Sissel is able to ultimately cause a wrecking ball to crush the assassin Jeego, and save the life of Lynne. It’s a simple mechanic that become much more complicated on other levels, as Sissel will have to time when he jumps to different objects and the order in which he causes tricks to occur. This is very much an adventure title, so fans of that genre should pay plenty of attention to Ghost Trick. Considering the title lasts for 15 to 20 hours, there is a lot of puzzling adventuring to keep gamers pleased.

Surprisingly, Ghost Trick is considerably dark. While everything is done in a very stylized method, the murders are presented in a forthright (albeit non-gory) manner. It’s surprisingly dark, but the humor is used in a tactful and effective manner to contrast some of the dark elements. It’s darker than Ace Attorney was, and there is a good chance that the title could see a T-rating. Hell the second mission involves stopping the death of a little girl. It’s certainly a mature approach to funny adventure titles.

The visual style is bar-none the most striking thing about Ghost Trick. Not just the snazzy  character stills that pop up during exposition and conversation, it’s the character models themselves that really look great. Using an animation technique evocative of rotoscoping, Takumi’s team developed 3D models for each of the characters and converted them to 2D for the game itself. What this means is that characters move with a fluidity and smoothness rarely seen in a DS game. It’s a simple technique, but it goes far to conveying a strong level of polish. Even more, the game is extremely stylized, fitting the bill for a great looking DS game. It’s nothing that break barriers, but it get’s the job done well.

Ghost Trick looks like a much more robust title than might be initially seen. With a distinct and pronounce visual flair, a mature and humorous narrative that doesn’t seem to pander to gamers, and a core gameplay that belies a surprising amount of complexity, Ghost Trick is a mystery worth looking into when it comes out this winter.


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