If you like Ace Attorney, you should play Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. It's as simple as that. You may already have done so, since the point-n'-click visual novel hybrid originally launched over a decade ago. However, this remaster is the perfect opportunity to either revisit the cult hit on modern hardware, or discover it for the very first time — and we'd suggest you do so. Ghost Trick is every bit as compelling and charming as its better-known stablemate, and thanks to its supernatural premise, its story goes to even weirder and wilder places.
The game begins as the hero of the tale is shot dead in a dingy junkyard. Learning your name to be Sissel, you awaken as a spirit with no memory of your life, or even who you are. All you know is what's onscreen: a dead body, a woman, and an assassin who's about to kill her. Fortunately, in your ghostly form, you have access to supernatural abilities, which you can use to affect the land of the living in small but meaningful ways.
You can possess objects within reach, and many of those can be "tricked" — minor interactions or movements that can have surprisingly major results. Often, you'll need to create a path through a stage for yourself, like flipping open a folding cot, or moving a trolley along the floor. Other tricks are smaller — wobbling a bowl, opening a bin — which can be used to distract characters or cause various chained effects. Swapping between the ghost world and the living world can get a bit tedious towards the end, but overall it's a fine system. Anyway, it's these interactions you'll need to toy with in each level to progress the story.
But that isn't all you can do. You can also travel through phone lines to any discovered locations, but most importantly, you can travel back in time to four minutes before someone's death. In these sequences, you have to use your tricks to change a character's fate as the events play out in front of you. These are some of the game's more involved puzzles; using the objects available to you, how can you avert a person's demise? You'll need to think laterally and explore your options to come up with the solution. Nothing about the gameplay is particularly challenging — although some of the puzzles later on are tougher — but there's just enough room to experiment, making it satisfying when you do find the answer. If you do fail, the checkpointing is mostly fine, but sometimes you have to go through a tonne of dialogue again, which can be a little tiresome.
Within the first 30 minutes of the game, the young woman meets her end, and you rewind time to prevent that from happening. This begins the game's narrative, which is a mystery that starts fairly simply and gradually grows into something far bigger. As expected of a game like this, the characters and the story are the real highlight, and much like Ace Attorney, Ghost Trick is stuffed with distinct and outlandish personalities that keep the plot interesting throughout.
At its core, this is a murder mystery, but its supernatural hook allows the story to take some unpredictable turns. When you start, you'll be asking "who is this character, and why were they killed?" but as you progress, the questions only grow in size and number. The amount of narrative threads that interweave here is impressive, and it'll leave you guessing for the game's duration. The very end does thankfully provide answers after roughly 10 hours of build-up, though be prepared for quite the exposition dump. Regardless, it somehow manages to pull everything together and deliver a tale that's satisfying.
That's more or less it; manipulate objects, save lives, slowly open the narrative can of worms. Without spoiling anything, your ghostly abilities are expanded upon later, which makes the puzzles slightly more complex. It's a welcome wrinkle to the gameplay which, again, is never that difficult. It is satisfying to see what effects you can have on the world, and the puzzles are gratifying to complete despite the simplicity of what you're doing.
This remaster brings the game into full HD and runs at a smooth 60 frames-per-second. The bright, cartoonish art style looks great, while the soundtrack has also been redone, with new arrangements that sound fuller than the original tracks. You can still listen to those if you like, though. Elsewhere, the package contains artwork to unlock as you go through the game, viewable in a gallery, and you can also play the soundtrack to your heart's content as well. After clearing the story, you also gain access to a set of sliding puzzles which unlock yet more illustrations for the gallery. Overall it's a neat package, and certainly the best way to play Ghost Trick.
After more than 10 years, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective resurrects on relevant platforms. Fortunately, it's always been a great game, with some intriguing puzzles, a unique premise, and a mystery that builds and builds right to the very end. Fans of point-n'-click adventures, visual novels, or both should absolutely give it a look, and if you've played it before, this is the definitive version. It's a cult hit that's been granted a second chance at life, and deservedly so.