Originally released on Nintendo DS and iOS devices, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a bit of an underappreciated gem. But soon it might hopefully get the attention it deserves, thanks to a remaster bringing it to a range of new formats. This is an ingenious puzzle game, and with the creator of the Ace Attorney series at its helm, you can be assured that it drips with humour and style.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective begins where many games end: with the death of its lead character. With your body slumped in a scrap yard, you suddenly become aware of your predicament. But you’ve not got time to dwell on what’s happened – not just yet. Aware that your spirit still lingers for some reason, the only thing you care about in the moment is the woman that’s also in peril. But what can you do to help her?
The answer lies in the game’s title: performing ghostly tricks. A nifty tutorial gets you up to speed, and then you’re free to go at it. With the push of a button, you’re free to enter the spirit world, where items that you can posses are highlighted. The trouble is, you can only move between them if they’re fairly close by. And so to save someone that’s in immediate danger, you need to move from object to object, switching in and out of the spirit world to manipulate them.
In the opening chapter, for example, you inhabit and strum a guitar to distract an assassin ready to take his shot. Then, a little later, you have to travel through a sequence of items, using their innate properties to get closer to your target before moving a wrecking ball into place and releasing it, crushing the would-be killer for good. Needless to say, this is a game where you need to put your thinking cap on.
Even more so considering that there are time limits involved. While you can’t inhabit your own body and bring it back to life, you can move into the bodies of others who are recently deceased. You can then view the last four minutes of their life and try to change their fate. You’ll need to explore the immediate area, discover what items might be useful to achieving your goal, and sometimes activate them at just the right time. There’s some trial and error involved, and it’s a shame that you can’t fast-forward or rewind during these sections at will, but it’s captivating nonetheless.
Having played through the first two chapters of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective on PS4, it’s safe to say that we’re keen to continue our ghostly adventure, trying to follow clues and work out why we were murdered. This may be a game that’s over ten years old not, but it’s been wonderfully remastered with a visual style that’s charming from the get-go. And you can give it a go, too, thanks to a demo that’s now available on both consoles on PC. Even better, you can carry your progress over into the full game when it launches at the end of this month.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective launches 30th June on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC.