There’s something hypnotic about a Rube Goldberg contraption. The way one little event like a falling ball bearing or a tipping of a domino can cause a chain reaction to something bigger and more spectacular never ceases to amaze me. In Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, that joyful aspect is really just the icing on top of a much more satisfying cake that is the story and characters of the game.
The novel gameplay in Ghost Trick is basically that of a Point and Click Adventure game. The big twist here is that you’re a spirit who can possess inanimate objects. The environment is littered with objects that you can possess and occasionally manipulate, but your range is quite limited. Half the game is literally all about finding the path by moving/possessing from one object to another. The other half of this possession equation involves manipulating the possessed object. The heart of every puzzle in Ghost Trick is basically a Rube Goldberg contraption, but the difference is that you have to jump around and manipulate the right objects at the right time to pull it off. Watching these little ingenious, albeit a tad contrived at times, setups unfold is pretty satisfying in and of itself. It’s not without its minor frustration though.
Here we see Ghost Trick’s affinity towards dancing characters
As the game progress, these setups become much more dependant on timing, and if you missed it, you’re stuck. The same is true if during your exploration of the environment you triggered an object before its time. What’s worse is that sometimes, you’ve screwed yourself without even realizing it. These might sound bad on the surface, but these situations are only possible during specific parts of Ghost Trick where you can restart the segment as many times as you need. Moreover, these sections are not very long and are fairly generous with checkpoints. These areas could have easily brought the game down but thankfully didn’t.
As fun as watching dominos fall might be, the real stars of Ghost Trick has to be the strong, intriguing story and the incredibly quirky characters. Ghost Trick starts with you being dead, and what do you know, you can’t remember a damn thing about anything. As the story unfolds, you’ll across a police inspector who can’t seem to take one step anywhere without doing a little Michael Jackson impression or a hippie hell-bent on saving the public park from demolition. These characters make you want to see what else these guys will do. How else will they surprise us? Even the characters with the least amount of screen time have their own strange little personalities like the singing chef or the sycophantic detective. They along with a number of other very likable, and sometimes odd, characters help to make the already addicting storyline that much more fun.
Suffice it to say that the story along with how it’s told is nothing less of amazing. The game is separated into chapters, and I can’t remember ending one chapter where I’m not completely captivated by the most recent revelation. Each one brings light to a piece of the puzzle but at the same time manages to bring up even more questions. The best part about this is that it’s never too far out there. None of the revelations breaks that fragile barrier that holds back our disbelief. Even the ending felt incredibly satisfying.
I’ve played many games with strong stories in my time, but this one will always stick out in my mind because of how well it melds the story along with the characters involved. And seriously, how many games can you think of that manages to make a little Pomeranian NOT annoying?
- Wonderful art style.
- Amazing story.
- Incredibly quirky and colorful characters.
- Some puzzles rely a little too much on trial and error.
Confused about our score? See our Ratings Guide.