Originally released in 2015 few would have thought that we would ever see The Great Ace Attorney games come to the West thanks to a number of unique aspects but Capcom surprised many by announcing that this pair of games would be arriving on a number of platforms at the end of July. Now with The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles set to be released at the end of the month, we’ve had a chance to try out some of the first few cases to experience this brand new cast of characters, all-new setting and time period, and plenty of fresh mechanics.
Instead of having the usual cast of characters The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles follows Ryunosuke Naruhodo, a young student who has found himself at the turn of the century with Japan only recently opening its borders to outside countries, signing treaties with countries such as Great Britain, and a surge in technological advancement. After certain events place Ryunosuke in the spotlight, with the help of his lawyer friend Kazuma and his judicial assistant Susato, Ryunosuke discovers that he has something of a talent for being a lawyer himself and finds himself on a journey to study law in the freshly minted courts of Japan to the pinnacle of justice, Great Britain.
Throughout the years the Ace Attorney series has generally used the first case to help introduce player’s to various mechanics and the world in what ends up feeling like a throwaway case but The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles does away with part of that usual flow since while the introduction does still serve as a lengthy walkthrough, the case is far from a throwaway. The Ace Attorney games have always been about giving players challenges to solve either through finding the right evidence or seeing through the lies of a witness and this time around that happens to be the case more than ever as now multiple witnesses can take the stand at a single time with players needing to gauge their reactions to testimony and acting on it should they behave strangely.
In fact a jury becomes involved in Britain where now players have to worry about convincing six people about the innocence of their defendant instead of just the judge and with the jurors being able to chime in and be questioned as well, things can be rather intense. a With all these different voices now arguing in the courtroom it can make for some very interesting sequences where it can actually be truly difficult to see what will happen next. This marks one of the first few times in an Ace Attorney game that, on more than a few occasions, I was stumped as to what to do next and had no idea what type of twist would be coming as a result.
These new mechanics serve as an interesting way to spice things up inside the courtroom but what British themed mystery game would be complete if it didn’t have a legally distinct famous detective to muddle around the cases. Ryunosuke’s investigations into cases, locations, and people trying to find evidence often put him alongside the detective Herlock Sholmes whose array of gadgets and eccentric personality allow for plenty of Great Deductions that generally are in the ballpark of the truth with Ryunosuke then having to help correct Sholmes as needed. These adjustments come in a rather bombastic Dance of Deduction that see Ryunosuke and Herlock move around a scene and analyze things such as sight-lines and more in.
It is interesting to note that just within what we were able to try out, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles does not hold back when it comes to its storytelling and setting. Where previous games may have been a bit on the fence about their setting everything is laid out in the open here in this release and while the absurdities of the legal system were always lambasted, this one moves beyond the courtroom at times as we see the fledgling Japanese country interact with the British Empire that treats them in ways that have been rather shocking so far. That being said, the series’ signature humor and slapstick remains as true to form as ever.
It also must be said that from what we’ve been able to see of the game so far there are some really outstanding visuals to be had here. While the game may not really push the envelope graphically it has seen a significant improvement over the original 3DS release and players will be happy to hear that, while the English voice over only plays during animated scenes, that is an option here alongside some stellar music that remains a key staple of the franchise.
With solid storytelling spread through the cases like they have been and these new cast of characters, it will be quite interesting to see just what stretches beyond the first few cases and how strange and unique the mysteries and court-room standoffs can really become down the line.
Currently The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is set to be released on the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC on July 27th and you can expect to see our full review closer to release.
These early cases show that the franchise is still full of unique elements that can only grow in complexity and absurdity from here.