Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review

By Moye Ishimoto - Posted Jan 12, 2011

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective for the Nintendo DS is an innovative and engrossing puzzle game with a tangled web of strange mysteries that the ghost of a murder victim named Sissel must solve before daylight.

The Pros
  • A variety of inventive puzzles to keep anyone entertained
  • Engrossing storyline about murder, mystery and conspiracy
  • Humorous dialogue and characters
The Cons
  • Puzzles can be pretty challenging with little help
  • Impatient gamers will throw DS at the wall

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review:

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective for the Nintendo DS is an innovative and engrossing puzzle game with a tangled web of strange mysteries that the ghost of a murder victim named Sissel must solve before daylight.

Each chapter feature a puzzle that Sissel must complete in order to solve the overall mystery, where he must travel backwards through time to change a character’s fate in order to protect his friends and seek the answers to his death. The game offers a variety of these puzzles that feature Rube Goldberg-esque set-ups with objects to set off a chain reactions, all which require the utmost timing and attention.

Scary Stories

Suspend any personal beliefs about the paranormal, the afterlife and the space-time continuum because Capcom’s Ghost Trick throws each of those ideas out the window to create an addicting and highly entertaining game of puzzles and mystery solving. Players take on the role of Sissel, a recently slain man who wakes up in the afterlife with no memory of what just happened.

Armed with the powers of the dead, he must solve the mystery behind his murder and the characters surrounding it, including a young woman named Lynne, the imprisoned Detective Jowd—who she is trying to save from execution, a breakdancing Inspector Cabanela and a score of strange assassins out to kill everyone involved. If that’s not a lot to take on when you’ve just been killed, there’s also an overlaying mystery involving the Special Detective Agency responsible for investigating Sissel’s death and the country’s national security defense at stake. But with the creator of Ace Attorney behind this game, the adventure in Ghost Trick is fun and completely absorbing.

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Ghost Ride The Trick

Ghost Trick
presents the perfect mystery, where each new clue opens up yet more questions and as the game progresses, you realize that each separate case and every character’s fate is tied together. Questions are answered with even more questions, and from what seems like a simple murder mystery about Sissel becomes a huge tangled conspiracy.

The storytelling mechanics of Ghost Trick work well and with the combination of funny dialogue and characters (including a dumb Pomeranian puppy), players are treated to a solid narrative that is neither confusing or complicated. In fact, the unveiling of new clues only motivates the player to keep moving forward in the game to solve the final mystery.

Sissel’s ghostly investigations keep the player continuously occupied with its inventive puzzle gameplay, thanks to his “powers of the dead.” After his untimely death, Sissel discovers (thanks to a talking desk lamp named Ray) that he has unique abilities to manipulate inanimate objects and to talk to the souls of the recently dead through the “Ghost World.”

This means that as a ghost, Sissel can possess the core of things like picture frames, tires and light switches, where he can use as stepping stones to move around a room or maneuver them to trigger a response. Taking the core of a telephone can transport him to wherever the other line is or he can open a cupboard to catch someone’s attention. He can also communicate with other human souls to learn more clues about his case. According to the Ghost Trick universe, anyone who has recently died or have once died are able to talk to spirits like Sissel.

Better yet, Sissel’s “ghost tricks” are able to manipulate time: as a phantom detective, he can travel back four minutes into the past and use his core controlling skills to change the fate of his friends. By keeping his friends alive, he has help in the real world for his ongoing murder investigation. Don’t even ask yourself how a ghost can time travel: that’s just the way the universe works in Ghost Trick and that’s what makes this game so entertaining.

Puzzles Await You On The Other Side

Figuring out the puzzles in Ghost Trick is a fun multi-step process: first, we witness how the event would play out without any of Sissel’s interference. By carefully watching the sequence and noting what needs to be prevented from happening (such as a character’s death), the player then travels back in time to possess and manipulate specific objects to change the course of history.

Each chapter offers a variety of challenging levels, which reveals the range of fun games you can play just with paranormal powers and time travel. Imagine the possibilities of being able to rewind time and rearrange the world! The downside is that working out a puzzle is a trial and error process: at times, this can become extremely frustrating since one mistake forces players to start over from scratch.

There is no “undo” feature in Ghost Trick, so each puzzle requires careful observation, careful timing and a careful set order of actions. On the other hand, Ghost Trick seems to understand this feature by revealing more hints each time the player fails to complete a puzzle. However, there are only so many helpful tips that Sissel can provide so consider yourself warned if you’re tempted to throw the DS at the wall after you can’t figure out how to manipulate the objects when and where its needed. 

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective requires patience and a keen eye, but the plethora of puzzles and gripping plot ensure any DS player that this game will never fail to entertain.