Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse—and then haunt some fools.
You might think you’re in a bad position if you require the services of an Ace Attorney—but how about getting knocked off at the outset of your own game? That’s the setup for Capcom’s forthcoming DS game Ghost Trick, which managed to hold its own in the Capcom demo room last week at the Tokyo Game Show. Even alongside the next-gen console big-shots like Lost Planet 2, Dark Void, and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, this oddball little après-vie puzzler kept sidetracking visiting game journalists. Even the sober ones. (There were still a few floating around the Makuhari-Messe convention-center area, at least until that first open-to-the-public day.)
[image1]Designed by Phoenix Wright creator Shu Takumi, Ghost Trick is aptly-named. Snuffed out right off the bat by a black-clad hitman, Sissel is the ghostly protagonist you’ll play—a ball of spectral energy that doesn’t have much in the way of a traditional ‘presence’, but can still play little tricks on and with objects in the surrounding environment by possessing them and putting them to use—as tools, vessels, weapons, or simply distractions. You’ve already got enough reasons—mostly pure inquiry and good old-fashioned vengeance from the grave—to meddle in the material world, but you’ve also got the still-living to worry about, such as a girl named Linne, who is next up on your killer’s to-‘do’ list.
Why do the dead haunt the earth? To mess with it—to poltergeist objects around the area and, with luck, set up some nifty diversions, attacks, or chain reactions. Your newly-released spirit isn’t terribly powerful, so if you want to influence someone or something that’s not immediately close to hand—er, ectoplasm-tendril—then you’re going to have to ‘sandbox’ your way over to it by first manipulating something that is nearby.
If the bad-guy hitman is after fair, redheaded Linne, maybe you can drop a traffic-barrier arm in his path. Or strum the possessed guitar that is you and you may be able to distract the evildoer for a critical second or two. Or you can certainly spiritually hijack the body of a handy nearby cat, and force it to do your bidding (at the very worst, something unpleasant will happen to it—you wouldn’t do it to a puppy, maybe, but a cat is another matter entirely. Or if you need to cover some lateral distance, you can topple a handy ladder and extend your object-by-object reach by seven feet or so.
[image2]Of course, many of your single, initial actions can then chain-react and snowball, as actions of both the living and not-so-living are wont to do. Play your kinetic, B-follows-A cards just right, and you’ll even be able to brain-pan your antagonistic prey right between the eyes with a construction-yard wrecking-ball. That’s going to leave a mark.
Time is not on your side, however; you’ll need to find out the reasons behind your untimely demise and make things right—or Wright, if you prefer—before the next morning, or your ghostly essence is going to evaporate into the supernatural ether. To reflect this worldly time-pressure, the levels and challenges are themselves timed.
Despite the rather dark-humor setup, Ghost Trick has a vibrant, colorful, cartoonish look well in keeping with the Phoenix Wright games. This ghostly, kinetic mystery/puzzler is slated to ship in 2010, but no definite U.S. release date is available at this time (in fact, don’t get too terribly fond of the title “Ghost Trick” just yet, as that particular name is still loitering around the TBD list). A dead guy’s gotta do what a dead guy’s gotta do—make a phone ring, trip some mortals up, break a few windows, by whatever means necessary—you can rest when you’re dead. The next time, I mean.