Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective on the Nintendo DS has solid gameplay
- Interesting story, excellent animation, well-localised dialogue is actually funny
- Some levels involve more waiting than puzzling, cutscenes are unskippable, story gets preachy toward the end
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a quirky adventure-puzzler from Capcom luminary Shu Takumi that boasts a charming sense of humour and a unique, if sometimes frustratingly implemented, gameplay gimmick.
Calling do-overs is usually the last resort of a sore loser, but the main character in Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective has plenty to be sore about in only the first three minutes of gameplay: Shot dead in a junkyard for reasons unknown, with absolutely no memories to clue him in.
Fortunately, Sissel (who doesn't remember his real name, either) has the mystical power to call "do-overs" in a way that takes him back four minutes in time before a person's death. Using magical "ghost trick" powers in the past, he can possess objects and manipulate them in a way that off-sets the chain of events leading to a person's untimely end. The only problem is, he cannot work his own magic on himself -- and nearly everyone he comes into contact with over the course of the game winds up dead at one point or another in connection with some big mystery that ultimately lies at the heart of his own death.
The premise sounds silly -- especially if you try to articulate it to somebody on public transit who asks you what the game is "about" -- but once the story gets going, Ghost Trick gets pretty exciting, and the solid gameplay backs it up. Each "chapter" involves one to three "ghost trick" puzzles where Sissel must move objects in order to reach an objective or trigger an event that reveals another tantalising clue, plus several explanatory cutscenes introducing him to new characters in the plot. Nearly everyone Sissel meets is somehow a part of the big mystery, and most of them have well-written dialogue that keeps things interesting -- even when you have to repeat a puzzle or six.
That's the thing about calling do-overs: you usually have to repeat yourself. Many of the more advanced puzzles in Ghost Trick after about Chapter 5 require you to either fail completely or come right down to the wire to find the right timing of events in order for Sissel to execute a life-saving ghost trick. Even then, an early mistake in your puzzle-solving might blow an entire sequence of events and you'll have to hit the hourglass icon to reset the puzzle back to the beginning -- which gets old if you've worked yourself into the same dead end of a puzzle more than twice. This is probably Ghost Trick's worst weakness: Unlike the Phoenix Wright games where you can rely on the process of elimination, or the Professor Layton games where you can pay for clues, Ghost Trick puzzles have only one solution -- and until you find it, you're doomed to fail a puzzle over and over again.
For example, a life-saving puzzle late in the game forces you to sit through all four minutes of a dialogue-heavy sequence and doesn't offer you a way to solve the puzzle until the final second -- which you might miss because when the scenario timer started flashing "3-2-1," you hit the hourglass icon before it got to "0," which is where the game finally offers you the solution. Patience isn't a virtue we associate with gamers, but Ghost Trick expects you to have plenty of it.
Fortunately, the game only has about three hair-pulling puzzles where you might find yourself rage-quitting (remember to save before you do; skipping cutscenes isn't an option), and if the mystery hooks you like it hooked me, you'll stick around until you figure them out. The conclusion the plot hurtles toward you may not be one you saw coming (I didn't), but the satisfaction of getting there cancels out all the tufts of hair you ripped out along the way working out the tougher puzzles.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Hisense Series 7 ULED 4K UHD TV review
- 2 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review
- 3 Portable power: Venom Blackbook 13 Zero review
- 4 Alcatel Idol 4S review: King of the mid-range?
- 5 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review
Latest News Articles
- This week in games: Blizzard ditches Battle.net, Gears of War 4 adds PC split-screen
- Forza Horizon 3 (PC) review impressions: Get ready to make your graphics card sweat
- How Xbox Project Scorpio and the PS4 Pro can play 4K games: Visual compromises
- Games yanked from Steam after developer sues users for nasty negative reviews
- BioShock Remastered's brand new PC port is just as bad as the old one
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTTest SpecialistSA
- CCBusiness Analyst with change management experienceACT
- CCLAN ConsultantWA
- CCSecurity Cleared IT Professionals - Expression of InterestSA
- FTOutbound TelesalesVIC
- FTBusiness Development Manager | ICT intelligent systems integrationVIC
- FTLinux Systems AdministratorNZ
- FTAndroid DeveloperNSW
- CCProgram Manager - Data InsightVIC
- CCDesktop Infrastructure SpecialistACT
- CCContract Junior Programmer (J2EE/SQL) 160927/JP/551Asia
- CCTest Manager (HP Quality Centre / Kronos)NSW
- CCBusiness Analyst - Telecom ProjectNSW
- CCBI Reporting AnalystACT
- FTTest Manager (HP Quality Centre / ARIBA)NSW
- CCContract Web Developer (160915/WD/vmp)Asia
- CCIT Security ArchitectACT
- FTOutbound TelesalesVIC
- CCE-Commerce - Senior Web DeveloperNSW
- CCInformatica Developer (MDM)NSW
- FTCarrier/ Industrial Network ConsultantsWA
- CCBusiness ArchitectNSW
- FTBackup ConsultantWA
- CCSolutions ArchitectACT
- FTTechnical Business Analyst | Marketing ServicesNSW