Review: Ghost Trick
Every so often you stumble across a gem of a game which has somehow slipped past your notice, and then immediately feel guilty for not being a part of it a lot sooner.
For me that was Ghost Trick.
I initially heard about this game while reading reviews for the recently released Remember Me back in May. The reviewer was raving on about the memory manipulation aspect of Remember Me (which was by and large its best and most underplayed feature) and someone commented saying that those sections were basically a knock-off of Ghost Trick.
Now I’m not one to judge someone over sampling a particularly good gameplay aspect (especially when converting it from 2 dimensional animation to AAA 3D game graphics) but I was intrigued to see if Ghost Trick really was the source of this concept and so I quickly downloaded it to my iPhone (although it was originally launched on Nintendo DS) and gave it a play.
And was blown away, not only by the similarities listed above but with its highly original flavour and charm that was all its own. Frankly speaking, it’s not like anything else I’ve ever played. And that’s becoming increasingly rare and valuable in this industry.
For those (like me a few months ago) who aren’t familiar with the name, Ghost Trick is an animated puzzle game where you play the part of a phantom detective tasked with investigating his own death. After waking up as a spirit and finding himself murdered, the protagonist (who initially cannot remember his own name) investigates the circumstances surrounding his assassination by manipulating inanimate objects and traveling from place to place along phone lines.
By and large a click and point game, Ghost Trick is almost part game and part anime with a vivid animation style and larger than life characters which leap off the screen. It helps that it never takes itself too seriously, interspersing the narrative with jokes and humorous exclamations or idiosyncrasies that take the edge of what is, on its face, a game about a murder victim and death in general.
The puzzles themselves are tricky and yet fulfilling, never pandering to the player and successfully keeping them (or me at least) engaged enough to continue along with the story. And it’s the story and characters themselves that are the real driving force here, you solve puzzles to find out what happens next and not the other way around.
If I had to compare it to anything I would say it’s like Atlus Games’ Catherine, where the puzzle solving nature of the gameplay is almost an afterthought to the bubbly and engaging storyline – and the rich character development ensures you bond quickly with the characters you play as and interact with, and remember them long after you stop playing.
All up I’d say Ghost Trick is a fun romp for all ages, albeit with a few subtle jabs at humour that are intended for adults to understand and children to pass over.