Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a game that’s not known by many, but it is beloved by those who do know about it. It was a point-and-click adventure game released by Capcom for the Nintendo DS in 2010. As a ghost, players use their powers to prevent murders by interacting with different objects. Its gameplay and puzzles feel minimalist, but its dialogue, animations, and characters were all incredibly charming, creating an adventure game like no other.
Sadly, the game didn’t sell well and became particularly expensive stateside, so unless this quirky adventure enticed you back in 2010, it’s unlikely that you’ve ever heard of it. Thankfully, Capcom is giving people another chance to try the game later this month with a remaster, which received a demo today during the Capcom Showcase. I had the opportunity to play this demo ahead of time, and I found that Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is shaping up to be just as much of an enjoyable romp in 2023 as it was in 2010.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective begins with a man regaining consciousness. Soon thereafter, a sentient desk lamp reveals that he’s dead but has the power to help people by pulling off tricks in his ghost form. For example, he could possess a bicycle from the afterlife to send it toward a bad guy and prevent them from shooting someone. As part of the first case, he’s saving a mysterious girl with red hair from being murdered in the same junkyard as him.
After that, he confidently uses his newfound powers to save that woman’s roommate and her dog from another assassin. It’s a slick, unique premise, and these first two levels of the game still make a strong first impression years later. Because Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective was made by one of the creators of Ace Attorney, it shares that series’ trademark humor and wit while dealing with a premise that could seem a bit macabre from afar. This remaster does nothing to change that, as the charming story and characters are completely intact.
In terms of gameplay, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is very simple. It’s a slightly off-kilter take on a point-and-click adventure game, with the main interactions being to turn into a ghost, pull off the titular ghost tricks, and reset everything if you mess up or the potential victim actually dies. These systems were all originally designed for a touchscreen, though, so I was worried about how they’d adapt now that Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is on platforms without touchscreens.
Thankfully, this demo demonstrates that the game transitioned to controller support well. The game’s simplicity ultimately works to its benefit here. Moving around in ghost form works just fine with a control stick, and the button placements are intuitive and easy to pull off. For those looking for a gameplay experience closest to the original, I recommend playing on PC, as you can use a mouse like you would a DS Stylus.
Overall, this impending re-release of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective seems like a solid way to experience a cult classic. The game’s visual overhaul is clean, refining the visuals and making them more vibrant without sacrificing any of its overdramatic, kooky animations. The rewind animations going fullscreen is also an excellent visual effect exclusive to this remaster. Music tracks have also been re-recorded and sound quite good.
Although I did get a chance to try out the new Sliding Ghost Puzzles, that’s a more superfluous addition and doesn’t change my opinion that this is a really good remaster for adventure game fans to keep on their radars if they haven’t before. A whole new generation of gamers has a chance to experience this quirky, charming cult classic that deserves more love than it ever got, and that’s a net good for the industry.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective releases for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on June 30. You can also play the demo on all of those platforms now.
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