by Keaton Arksey
previewed on NDS
Waking up dead
People have bad nights all the time. Usually, that involves ingesting mass quantities of alcohol, making some poor life decisions and waking up in the morning wondering “why is there a camel in the bed?”. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective’s lead character Sissel undergoes something far worse than that. For him, a bad night involves waking up to discover he is dead (how one wakes up dead is a discussion for another article).
Sissel, along with discovering that he is now deceased, finds that he has lost all of his memories. He has no clue how he died and vows to make sure that no one else shall die that night. This one night limitation is imposed on him partly because of his soul disappearing forever the following morning. Unless he is willing to leave the mystery of his death unsolved and without resolution, he needs to figure out what happened pronto. The only initial clues are a detective named Lynne and a near-sighted assassin who goes by the name Jeego, both of whom play a fundamental role in the story. Luckily, Sissel can communicate with his fellow ghosts and those who he has saved, so even death cannot stop his social life.
On to the next death!
Each level of Ghost Trick revolves around a character’s death. Sissel, being a ghost and all, has the special ability of traveling back in time to four minutes before a person’s death by possessing their corpse. In order to save the person and solve the mystery concerning his own death, Sissel must prevent the person’s untimely demise by possessing objects in the environment and performing Ghost Tricks. For example, a radio could be possessed and turned on, which could distract the would-be killer and change the course of events that would otherwise have taken place. By entering the Ghost World, time stops and Sissel can move between various inanimate objects. By performing a trick, time returns to its normal flow and the object’s action occurs. Sissel can only travel within a certain radius of an object, meaning the initial range of objects is limited. By possessing various objects and performing tricks, new areas can be opened up for use.
Intrigued? I thought so. Puzzled? I figured you might. A DS demo was recently released, offering some insight into the game’s mechanics. While it will not be a part of the main game, it gives a useful look into how the process works. The demo shows Sissel giving a present to a little girl before Christmas Eve ends. Without Sissel’s interference, the little girl listens to music, eats some donuts and reads a book. If Sissel possesses a nearby umbrella, when the girl goes to grab the headphones, the umbrella will extend and cause the headphones to fall into a bowl of water and break. The little girl proceeds to move a tray of donuts, allowing Sissel to possess the tray and donuts. A mouse appears, resulting in the little girl’s dog barking and distracting the girl, allowing Sissel to move the donut tray back to its original position near a Christmas tree. The star on the tree can be possessed and used to startle the girl when she moves to retrieve the tray of donuts. The little girl now sits on the far end of the couch. Sissel can then possess a Christmas mobile and make it go faster, causing it to gain height and gain access to an attic door that can be opened to drop the gift for the little girl. By reversing the process and traveling back to the tree, Sissel attracts the girl to the present.
Capcom's next big hit?
Ghost Trick looks phenomenal so far. The character designs are outlandish and unique, with Sissel sporting a slick pair of shades, and a pointy blonde haircut. The supporting characters are also unique, like the disco dancing Detective Cabenela. Fans of the Ace Attorney series, also created by Shu Takumi, should be quite familiar with some strange characters and Ghost Trick looks to continue that tradition. By focusing on a more central theme (solving the mystery of Sissel’s death) Ghost Trick has the potential to be one of the best stories Shu Takumi has spun. The game uses many bright colors and the characters animate beautifully, thanks in large part to the fluidity of each character’s actions. The composer for Viewtiful Joe and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Masakazu Sugimori - will be providing the soundtrack for the game.
Ghost Trick might not be the easiest game to describe (as I am sure this preview can attest), but the premise is one of the most ingenious I have ever seen. By giving Sissel the ability to possess objects and interact with the living, each level becomes a giant Rube Goldberg-esque puzzle. The fantastic animation, bright colors, and unique character designs with the mind behind the Ace Attorney series behind it, Ghost Trick is shaping up to be Capcom’s next big hit. Let us just hope that this is not just a one trick pony (pardon the pun).