Evaluation: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

By qaxio

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Spook! Slither! You’ll all be doing it tomorrow.

It’s hard to believe that Ghost Trick is 13 years old, but even harder to comprehend what that means for the Nintendo DS, its original host system, which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year. I know, I know, it’s insane to think about. But let’s focus on the now. Let’s focus on Ghost Trick’s position as a former DS exclusive (phones don’t count), and what it takes to be one of the most inventive, enjoyable games on a system absolutely stone-cold loaded with incredible, diverse, interesting and enjoyable stuff to play.

So, seriously, I’m not going to waste words; you need to play this game, and it’s impossible for me to communicate precisely why without spoiling it, or aspects of it. And all of its aspects add up to such a satisfying whole that you really need to experience them independently to see how it all slots into the narrative… you get it.

You’re a ghost. You died. And you don’t remember who you are. But you can still communicate, still influence situations. And when a girl is shot to death in front of you, it becomes clear you can go back. You can change things. You can save her life with your poltergeisty powers. But there are strict limitations on what you can do, as a ghost, which feed into the solutions to each puzzle. Do you see how cagey I’m being? I have to. Because you need to go into Ghost Trick knowing as little as possible. Here: it is brilliant. You shoudn’t need more than that. It’s one of the best narrative games I have ever played. Take that, and run with it.

How’s the port? Free from its Nintendo DS prison, Ghost Trick shines, with the original low-poly assets presented up to 4K, meaning the game has never looked better. It’s such a stylised, beautifully animated experience that while it worked on the DS screen it’s infinitely better on a modern system with a more colourful display; the OLED Switch makes the game sing, for example. This cast of strutting, dancing characters deserves this kind of fidelity and it’s nothing short of a miracle that Ghost Trick came back to us, right when we needed it most. Praise its holy loins. Anoint its graphically injured feet.

I digress. I’m trying to write a review of a game that isn’t just saying play it play it play it play it because I know how annoying and tedious it is when people try to get you to have an experience you’ll enjoy. Grr, hate it. But there really is no other coherent way to recommend Ghost Trick to you. It is not expensive, it is not long. Commitment is minimal, but the rewards are spectacular. You’ll actually laugh, and you may actually cry. This game pisses on Ace Attorney, right in its protesting lawyer mouth, and you must play it immediately. Or die. I’m not joking. I’ll found out, and I’ll come and kill you. Swear down, mate. Swear down.



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