Capcom allows players to solve the mystery of their own murder with the recent release of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective for the Nintendo DS.
Ghost Trick tells the story of Sissel, the spirit of his own murder, who must figure out who killed him before dawn or his spirit will vanish. As Sissel is a spirit he cannot directly communicate with the living, so to accomplish his task he must manipulate inanimate objects to help the living find the clues needed to solve the mystery. Sissel will often have to use his “Ghost Trick” powers to save other recently deceased people by traveling five minutes before they are killed and manipulating the scenario to change the victim’s fate.
The game is essentially a logic-based puzzle game. The player must jump Sissel from object to object and manipulate them to move around the areas and lead living characters towards the clues Sissel needs them to find. An example of this is a point when Sissel needs to get from one end of a room to another where there is a phone. After a few seconds of observation the player notices the lady who inhabits the room walks to the nearby bookshelf to find a dictionary which is hiding under the bookshelf. This makes the player realize that Sissel must get the lady to notice the dictionary on the ground and jump into it to have her carry Sissel and the dictionary over to the phone on her desk. To do so the player must move Sissel from a wine bottle to a book on a bookshelf to a bobbing bird toy on a cabinet and finally to a latch that opens an attic door. The player then uses Sissel’s “Ghost Tricks” to open the latch on the door, which causes a mouse that was sitting on the door to fall next to the bird toy. Sissel must then move to the bird toy and make it bob to hit the mouse off the cabinet onto the floor next to a dictionary. Then Sissel must quickly jump from object to object down to the dictionary before the inhabitant of the room comes and notices the mouse on the floor, which in turn makes her notice the dictionary. She then picks the dictionary up and brings it to her desk next to the phone where Sissel can use the phone lines to jump to other places in the game’s world.
Where the game really shines is in the character animations and script. The animations on some of the characters are incredibly realistic, especially for a DS game. Some of them look like the developers motion captured actual people for them, such as the detective who dances everywhere. This gives the game a hyper-realistic feeling to the game, which is a nice touch as most of the characters look like something out of an anime. The game’s script is also a nice aspect to the game, which is no surprise because the game was developed by the same people who made the Phoenix Wright game series. The mystery of Sissel’s death and the crimes surrounding that fateful night keep the player guessing at every turn.
Overall, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a great puzzle game. The characters are interesting and the scenarios keep the player hooked with the story from start to finish. The fact that the animations and the game’s script are both incredibly well done help keep the player having fun. For anyone looking for a great mystery DS game, this is a great choice.