So, a bit back, [ profile] lady_angelina lent me Ghost Trick (and Trace Memory, but I haven't gotten to the latter yet), and I finished it this morning.

Review contains spoilers for the first few minutes, game themes, gameplay, and for one plot point which is reasonably early on; it does not contain any for the big endgame spoilers.

Well, it's Shu Takumi (creator of Ace Attorney). Write
1. truth
2. perfect record
3. savior complex
4. dead parents
5. capital punishment
6. old men with pet birds
7. accidental murder
8. younger sisters
9. a dog named Missile
10. old friends and rivals
11. international intrigue
12. mistaken identities
13. painters who spill paint on themselves
14. detectives are strange, strange people

on a dartboard and get shooting. Ghost Trick doesn't have all of these, but most of them are there, though which I will be vague about because spoilers.

The gameplay is very different from AA -- you do converse with people occasionally, but it's pretty much just for explaining plot and not part of the puzzling. The puzzling is quite clever -- the main character dies at the beginning, and can only affect the world as a ghost by hopping from object to object and moving them a little. Flip a switch, bounce a ball, etc. And rewind to a point four minutes before the death of anyone other than themselves, which is the big mechanic. It's like making up for all the ridiculous coincidence chains that lead to murder in AA by undoing them.

The game is, sadly, fairly short -- due to the nature of the story, you don't get multiple cases, just one big case, and some of the mechanics feel underused. Then again, nothing gets done so many times as to be too annoying.

The puzzles are rarely very difficult, though the timing on a few is twitchy, and the fact that there can be twitchy timing led me down thinking I had the solution but just hadn't timed it right a bunch of times, when really I was wrong. When in doubt, you probably don't have to time it that well. Most of the plot twists were visible a mile off, but they were still satisfying.

The sound effects are good, and the music is good, though I didn't find it as compelling as any of the AA games. But I rarely care about music, and I did notice that this was pretty good. Graphics are serviceable -- they feel a lot like AA:I although with more variety in walking sprite motion, less variety in close-ups. The walking sprite/background style is very similar -- nicely drawn backgrounds, bright, realistic walking sprites, but the close-ups are very stylized, which is an interesting choice, though I like more realism, personally.

Oh, and the partway-in plot spoiler? If a pet dog sacrificing itself for its owner's sake will bother you, this is not your game.

It's a solid game, and definitely worth playing if you liked Ace Attorney or other visual novel / puzzle games. Pick it up cheap if you can, due to the game length, but unless you go fancrazy over them none of these games have much replay value, so it probably is similar bang for the buck as the AA or Layton games for most people.

...Someone app Cabanela into the detective pile at [ profile] damned, please? He'd be hilarious.
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