Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ghost Trick: Phantom WHAT

New week, and a new entry for Arcadexpoints. Hey everyone!

To continue my trend of hand-held games (so far anyway), I decided to talk about a game that was on the Nintendo DS, but was placed in the iTunes store later on down the road; Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective for the iPad.

Now I'm going to be honest here and say I've never played the DS version of this game. One was because I never came across it whenever I had the time to go game shopping, and two was because by this time, I was interested more in the console games due to FEELINGS, and three, which is in connection to number one, I had no idea what it was about or what you were supposed to do. So playing this for the first time was definitely new.

Ghost Trick essentially revolves around the story of the protagonist's ghost, Sissel, as he struggles to find out why he awakes in a dump without any memory, and his body in the dump. You switch between the Land of the Living, and the Ghost World, where time in the former runs normally, whereas time in the latter stops. Some items in the Ghost World have a blue core, which means that Sissel can manipulate the objects, open new paths, or influence characters around him. Now a big chunk of the story lines falls on how Sissel can posses corpses, and by doing so, return to four minutes before death.

And in these four minutes, Sissel can alter the situation, and changing the future by saving the person.

It begins.

The gameplay is fairly simple in theory. Traveling between the Land of the Living and the Ghost World, Sissel must travel between objects, manipulate certain objects for varied results, and even talk to the people he decides to share bodies with.

In practice, however, is a completely different story.

There are a lot of things to take into consideration, is the object you're going to really useful, or is it just a bridge between two objects? Are these all the blue cores out there, or do I need to go around and see if they're all there? And the ever so popular, "crap, I missed my chance! Do I restart or redo the scenario? GAAAAHHHH"

It's a bit of trial and error, especially when you've hit the stages when time is literally against you, but it definitely works to the advantage of this game.

Animation wise, Ghost Touch is amazing smooth. Like, buttery smooth. I came in not knowing what it was, and was taken completely by surprise by it. Sure, you wait those few seconds are character make their grand entrance, but wow is it worth it.

Taken from various Tumblr sites
But seriously, look at these.

In my own opinion, when a game brings in the "Time Traveling" plot device, I became wary. It's not that I hate it, it's just that I don't think there's a big grey area for using it; it's either really amazing and integrates into the story seamlessly, or it makes everything just even more confusing, answers nothing, and doesn't do much for the story overall.

Ghost Trick falls beautifully into the former category.

Really, you go back 4 seconds before the person's death, you REWRITE HISTORY  to keep these people alive, and you literally go back to where everything started to make things right. It's so convolutedly beautiful, I think this game has ruined me for all games that include time travel.

Talking about the plot of this game is whole new level of "what the absolute hell is happening what what WHAT," and I'd rather people experience this for themselves. Mostly because I have no idea how to make the phrase "well you start of as a dead dude and you try to figure out what happened to you, and then you save a whole bunch of people to help you figure out everything along the way, and then you meet this detective in training who you end up having to rewrite history for a billion times because she doesn't mind dying, and then you get to the end and apparently you're a cat" sound sane without taking a couple of hours out of someone's day.

I have obviously cut that very short, but I kid you not when I say that's the essential plot of Ghost Trick.

It's absolutely convolutedly beautifully brilliant…. and insane.

In short, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a game I would recommend for anyone who wants to give puzzle games a try, but not in the traditional sense. Sometimes it feels a bit dialogue-heavy, and sometimes you want to skip scenes, but the characters in these games are amazing. It's plot-twist make you double-take and hope to the gaming heavens that they don't make a sequel. Or if they do, make it as brilliant as this game.

- Alex

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