The Nintendo DS was home to many gems, some of which happened to release so late in the handheld’s life that they may have been overlooked despite featuring a well-known development team. Such was the case with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective as it released in the West just a month before the 3DS hit the scene and with Shu Takami at the helm, this title quickly became a hidden gem that had remained locked to the handheld for well over a decade, outside of an iOS port shortly after release. Now freed from its mobile prison Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective has made the jump to current platforms but does this classic make the jump successfully?
Bad news, you have awoken in a junkyard with no memory of who you are or even what happened but that is not the worst thing about the situation. You’re also dead and a ghost that will disappear when dawn breaks the next morning. Thankfully despite being an apparent murder victim, players are not completely helpless as a mysterious friend reveals that their ghost form is capable of manipulating objects in the normal world, traveling from place to place, and even rewinding time to change the fate of the recently deceased. Of course, your powers won’t work on your own corpse but that doesn’t mean that players can’t use their new abilities to try and find out who they are, what happened to them, and potentially try and save the lives of those willing to help them while trying to crack the many mysteries surrounding your death.
Since Ghost Trick is part puzzle game and part visual novel, players will find themselves in for quite a treat when it comes to the game’s writing. Not only does the title feature Shu Takumi’s signature eccentric cast with plenty of great jokes but it also makes use of this cast of characters to great effect. Nearly every character players meet will play a role in the story with many characters having excellent reveals tied to story progression, and boy does this story go to some extremes. This is by no means a bad thing as the many twists and turns, shocking reveals, and charming writing of Ghost Trick makes this a game that fans will be eager to keep playing because it is impossible to predict what will happen next. From beginning to end, Ghost Trick is a wild ride and one that tells a tightly knit storyline that still manages to make sense when everything is said and done, likely giving players some new favorite characters along the way, especially when it comes to a certain pomeranian named Missile.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a puzzle game that tasks players with manipulating objects in the world around them. The player can move a limited distance at a time and enter the “cores” of items and even corpses and then use his “trick” ability to interact with said object. Many objects in the world are simply used to move from point A to point B while others will have various actions tied to them, such as rolling a cart, opening an umbrella, and much more. Every puzzle in the game involves trying to make use of the tools available to the player to either change the fate of a character, reveal something, or move from place to place and occasionally this can involve some trial and error.
While some puzzles can be done at the player’s pace, there are also those that involve saving someone’s life and these make use of the player’s ability to travel four minutes prior to the corpse’s demise. Here players will often need to work on a time limit while also making sure that they figure out how to use their tools properly because sometimes they only have one shot at triggering the right series of events to save someone’s life. Thankfully should players fail, or simply want to watch until the end to possibly learn more how events play out, these puzzles can be reset as many times as necessary until players find out the right way to solve them and there is a nice level of satisfaction when everything properly falls into place.
Considering Ghost Trick was originally a DS game, the title has made the jump to consoles and a single screen incredibly well. The previous touch controls translate perfectly fine with the analog sticks and swapping between the ghost and normal world is fast and simple, making transitioning between objects a breeze once players find themselves racing against the clock. It is worth noting that, thanks to the game’s original aspect ratio, the game doesn’t make the best use of the newfound single screen and instead remains true to the 4:3 ratio with the spare screen space used for time limits that may have been better suited to give players extra screen space.
It is worth noting that, since this is a remaster of the original game, those who have played the 2011 release won’t find much in the way of surprises as the story remains the same great storyline it always was. The title does feature a number of extras that come in the form of rearranged musical tracks, a new piece of music, artwork and concept art that players can unlock, and also the sliding puzzles that were previously only available in the iOS port though these are a bit on the simple side compared to the puzzles found in the main game.
Visuals & Audio
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective has seen a significant graphical improvement with its release on current platforms and the title has still managed to retain its signature charm. Character models in motion look as detailed and smooth as players can expect while the signature art style is still represented in their portraits during dialogue. As mentioned before, it is a bit disappointing that the game cannot be played in full-screen in any way.
The title does not feature any form of voice work but it does feature a great collection of music that allows players to either use the newly arranged tracks that have been remastered for this release or use the original music from the 2011 release, with both versions working perfectly considering the quality of the soundtrack even in the original version of the game.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective’s release on current platforms brings an under played gem from over a decade ago to a far wider audience that can finally sample its amazing storyline full of twists, jokes, and heart and wonderful puzzles that are filled with head-scratchers and some that simply require some trial and error. Those who played the original release won’t find too much in the way of new content outside bonus artwork and a revamped presentation but even this is enough to give this unique puzzle game new life.
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