Review: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (Retro)

Reviewed by Geren, posted Oct 27, 2013
Tonight, in this very town, something big is going down. This is easily one of my favorite games in the world, and it's a pleasure to spread the love, as it was a commercial failure. Among all the puzzle titles in the genre, this one deserves a special spot as one of the most original and unique creations for the DS. In hopes to make it profitable, it was also ported to the iOS app store, and it's probably the easiest way to get it.
Oct 27, 2013
  • Release Date (NA): January 11, 2011
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Genres: Puzzle
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
From the mastermind behind the Ace Attorney series, Shu Takami, comes Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. The game deals with the mystery that every human being wonders about: death and the afterlife. The catch is the developer's take on it, which produces a wonderful story full of hilarious situations that makes this title almost a festivity of the dead, while maintining an aura of puzzling mysteries.
Why was I killed?

The main premise of the game puts you on the shoes of Sissel, a spirit that regains conciousness moments after he gets killed. He doesn't remember anything, he only knows that he is dead and that is about to presence a murder. What can he do? He is only a inmaterial being, right?. Well, no. Apparently he still has some moves. A nearby lamp graciously tells him about those powers, and that if he can stop the assassin in front of him, it will gain him some answers. The lamp only raises one issue: he only has until midnight to uncover the truth about his murder, as he's a ghost, his time is limited before going into the afterlife...

The game is divided in chapters. In each of them you travel around the city with your spooky powers, meeting a cast of characters full of life and with many quirks, connected one to each other. Discovering their connections is one of the vast delights of the plot. Everyone of them are developed through the game, and as you meet their motives and dreams, you are given the task of using your abilities to help them. As with the AA series, the plot takes a very relevant role in the game, with many turns of the screw and twists. There are many different media with emphasis on plot, but this software takes the crown and places itself among one of the very best games of the generation. Although the game isn't as scary as its name suggests, there are some terrifying moments that can give you goose bumps (special mention to the moment you are noticed by certain someone dangerous).

Many could argue that Ghost Trick is sort of like a visual novel, but its classified as a puzzle game for a reason. The gameplay is eeriely similar to the most famous videogame lawyer's games, as you use the touchscreen to enter an environment, and must explore it to interact with its many items and characters, for the recollection of data. The main difference with those games resides in the ghost tricks at your disposal. In each trick you can change the outcome of fate.


In most chapters your main adversary is death itself. The chapters begin with the narration of a situation: you witness a scene with a more than likely fatal (and absurd) outcome for a character. It's up to you, the touchscreen of your DS, and your wits to change the fate of the condemned. One thing to note it's the atmosphere of each of these puzzles, because they are limited in time. When your time is running up, the gameplay becomes quite frantic. Fear not, as this game isn't known for tedious trial and error solutions. Even mistakes can get you hilarious (wrong) results if you play your tricks right.


Graphics & Sound

Ghost Trick has one of the most gourgeous presentations on the system. The graphics certainly don't push the DS limits, but they're a pleasure to witness. Fortunately, there's quite a gallery of animations and detailed 2D backgrounds to look at. The title was probably developed with a comic book setting in mind, with a priority on text over everything else, but the amount of work put into the art style adds a tremendous value to it. At least in my case, I hadn't seen anything like it before.

Just look how he dances. Look at him.

Adding to the statement of the great atmosphere createdby the developers, it accomplishes said mood through the use of an exquisite selection of soundtrack and sound effects (the soundbit that plays when selecting an option in the main menu, will probably get into your head forever). For instance, the main theme below sets the bar for what you are getting into: a puzzling adventure with many mysteries. While the other referred piece is the one that plays in the final moments of fate, which tries to stress the player a bit. There's a great deal of difference between the main theme and this alledged Countdown.​
Closing Remarks
This is one gem that I could reccomend to everyone. Each aspect has being carefully crafted to create one of those rare video games that could truly connect with you. Most fellow players probably agree on how great the game is. But there is also one thing to nitpick about, and it's the replay value. If you loved the game, you'll probably want to play it again in a year or two, but you could also wanted it to be more. Maybe adding different endings or paths could have remedied this, but we'll never know, and can only accept and cherish the games as it is.

Also Available
Last year Capcom decided to port the game to iOS, making chapters 1 and 2 free, with the subsecuent chapters offered as packs. You'll want to get the full package, because the game will most definitily haunt you with its many chapter cliffhangers. If you haven't played the game and have access to an iDevice, stop tricking yourself and get this treat.
+ *Beatiful in how it presents to you.
+ *Engaging plot with many twists and take on death.
+ *Brilliant puzzles with logical solutions.
- *Little replayability or not enough amount of content.
10 Presentation
The game really shines on this: excellent animations, exquisite music and a beatiful story. Just for these characteristics alone, I try to hook all of my friends and family to play through this.
10 Gameplay
Ghost Trick sets an objective and accomplishes it. Using almost all of the DS capabilities, the game makes a fine use of the touchscreen to solve puzzles and progress the story. It's not overly difficult either, making it a very stimulant and enjoyable event.
9 Lasting Appeal
The one thing that's missing: replay value . As with many games that rely on the "experience", it generally takes one playthrough to enjoy it and be done. You can even get your experience tainted from all the spoilers you can get online. If you plan to play it, don't look up info (or artwork).
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
I certainly don't believe in perfection: everything has its flaws. In Ghost Trick's case, it's the lack of more content. Still, everything was arranged to give a wonderful one-of-a-kind advanture, and it speaks volumes how it leaves you wanting more. It's scary how good the game is.

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