Death can present a problem in a lot of video games. Once the main character is killed it’s usually the end of their adventure, at least temporarily. But Sissel’s demise in Ghost Trick is the very start of a strange and wonderful mystery that will have you scratching your head in confusion before palming your face in disbelief. After discovering he is dead and having lost his memories Sissel is assisted by a friendly spirit who tutors him in the art of ‘ghost tricks’ where he can move between objects and manipulate them. It sounds pretty basic but these simple powers make for some interesting puzzles that see you saving others and trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of Sissel’s death before sunrise the next day when we are told that time will run out and Sissel will cease to be.
Ghost Trick is a great puzzler, not as punishing as those old LucasArts adventures but still with a level of challenge that doesn’t treat you like an idiot. Many puzzles are time based which meaning you will occasionally get to a point where you can’t proceed any further but a neat rewind mechanic and helpful checkpoints mitigate a lot of frustration. The exception is a rather painful stealth section which meant a lot of agonising trial and error (which I hate) but thankfully this is only one brief part of one of 18 chapters so once finished it can be swiftly forgotten.
Story plays a big part of the game and you will probably spend as much time reading as puzzling. Thankfully the story is full of humorous twists and bizarre characters that really bring it to life. On top of this the animation is top notch and squeezes something pretty stunning out of my old DS Lite. It seems so rare now to be wowed by visuals but the simple and clean art style here really impressed me.
Ghost Trick won’t be for everybody, the fact that puzzles can lead you down a dead end may alienate traditional puzzle fans who aren’t used to a fail state and the crackers story gets a little tricky to follow at times especially when it loops in on itself but I wouldn’t let those things put you off. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a wonderful and unique title that I think all puzzle fans will get a kick out of.