Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective’s captivating charms leave a lasting imprint ahead of release

Capcom’s hidden Nintendo DS classic receives a graphical uplift for a modern audience

Imagine this. You’re dead, dressed as an Elite Beat Agent reject with your lifeless behind sticking up to the moon in a back alley.

Behind you, there’s a red-haired girl about to get shot by a shady looking criminal with a shotgun. For some reason, you can see what’s going on but are hopeless to take any action.

That’s until you hear a voice that tells you that you’re not completely dead — just mostly dead. As a matter of fact, you’ve become a spirit that can influence other objects in the world to change fate. Not only that, you also have the ability to communicate with other souls.

That is the premise of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, a remake of the original DS game made by the Ace Attorney mastermind Sho Takumi.

You play as Sissel, a recently-dead ghost with a mysterious backstory that resulted in him being killed. He’s also suffering from amnesia and figures that Lynne, the red-haired girl, is his best shot at finding out answers. The only catch is by sunrise, he will completely disappear from the world.

What I find most intriguing is that the story doesn’t revolve around changing the protagonist’s fate. Rather, it’s to find closure in his own life and impact the characters involved with this mystery.

For those familiar with Ace Attorney’s writing style, this game is very similar with its quirky characters and humour. In the brief preview demo alone, Sissel talks with a possessed desk lamp and a pomeranian puppy, each having their own distinct personality.

Unlike the Ace Attorney games where the story becomes static until you solve the answer, Ghost Trick puzzles happen in real-time. This means that players need to think on their feet to solve various scenarios thrown at them.

For example, if you react slowly during Lynne’s interaction with the mafia hitman, she’ll actually die as a result.

Thankfully, outside of manipulating objects in the world, your other “ghost trick” powers include the ability to rewind time. This gives players the chance to see the entire situation being played out without your intervention. It’s also a great feature because if you feel that you can’t solve the puzzle in time, you can reset it without waiting for a ‘game over’ screen.

Despite the preview being short, Ghost Trick captivated me with its charm and unique gameplay. I especially loved the interactions Sissel has with the pomeranian dog, as it gives you a fun perspective that you don’t normally think about with a pet.

As a fan of Ace Attorney that never got the chance to experience Ghost Trick’s original release, I’ll definitely be looking forward to playing the full game when it comes out.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective releases on June 30th, 2023 and is available to pre-order on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.