Published on July 11th, 2023 | by Gareth Newnham
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review
Summary: Ghost Trick Phantom detective was one of the best games on the DS and is now one of the best games on modern hardware.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is an unlikely remaster of a cult classic that you should check out if you haven’t before. If you already have, chances are you’re playing it now. It’s just that good.
Initially released for the DS in 2010, Ghost Trick is a unique supernatural mystery puzzle game by Shu Takumi. Who you probably know as the guy that brought the world the superb Ace Attorney series.
Like all great mysteries, Ghost Trick is full of twists, turns, and revelations, so it’s best played by knowing as little as possible going into it. So here’s what I can tell you without spoiling it; You play as a ghost with amnesia that has until dawn to figure out who they are and how they died. Thankfully they have the power to manipulate physical objects and zip around the environment using ghost tricks.
The puzzles start simple enough, but their difficulty and complexity ramp up at a steady pace. However, you always have the tools to work your way out of any situation. You just need to figure out how and when to use them. The Eureka moments also come thick and fat; each solution feels satisfying and elegant. However, there is an onerous stealth section that you’ll want to suffer through.
That being said, a fair amount of trial and error is involved. Though each puzzle has a loose four-minute time limit that’s more a narrative device than an actual limit, later levels require you to leap from one item to the next in quick succession, and if you get the timing wrong, there’s little you can do but go back to the last checkpoint and try again.
When everything comes together, though, the result is a series of Rube Goldberg-inspired antics that are as impressive to watch as they are enjoyable to set up.
Ghost Trick is a well-paced game that doesn’t outstay its welcome, packed full of well-drawn and likable characters brought to life with superb dialogue, a gorgeous art style, and superb animation.
It was a looker on the DS, but it is absolutely gorgeous on modern hardware. The art assets and animation, which was particularly slick, especially for the DS, look incredible now they’ve been polished up and upscaled.
The emotive way each character moves is a particular treat, from a squeaky clean detective that karate kicks and pirouettes across the screen to a Bordeaux quaffing novelist clinks her glass and salutes whenever she approves of something, and they all eat chicken like Naruto knocking back ramen.
If you played Ghost Trick on the DS, you’re probably wondering how well they’ve converted the dual-screen setup of the original to a single screen. The answer is pretty well. The top screen was mainly used for additional info anyway, so thanks to the game retaining its 4:3 aspect ratio, all of the information from the top screen is now in the bars on either side. While the rest of what you need to know is seamlessly merged with the action in the middle.
You can also customise the bars with artwork unlocked as you progress through the game. There’s also a wealth of concept art and illustrations to peruse, and you can listen to the game’s soundtrack. You’ll want to as well because it’s another cracker from Ace Attorney composer Masakazu Sugimori.
Finally, there’s Ghost Puzzles, a series of pointless sliding block-style puzzles I ignored, and you should too unless you’re really into that kind of thing.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective getting a second life on modern consoles is one of the year’s best surprises; it was one of the best games of 2010, and it’s one of the best games of 2023.
If you’re a fan of a good mystery, especially if you love of the likes of Ace Attorney, you need to make sure Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is haunting your hardware and spiriting away your free time.