My first thought when I picked up Ghost Trick for the DS today was ‘Come on. Not another game where you die and then jump your soul from item to item in the spirit world and then return to the real world and use your soul to manipulate those items to prevent people from being murdered.’
My second thought was ‘Wow, you have been playing way too many games this week.’ In a similar vein to Phoenix Wright, Capcom’s unique DS offering sucked me in with a novel take on puzzle gameplay and a great stylistic presentation.
Ghost Trick for the DS begins with the main character discovering his dead body. Nearby, a shadowy figure with a shotgun is holding a lady at gunpoint. You hear a disembodied voice in your mind who makes you aware that the woman is about to die, and begins to walk you through the game’s mechanics.
The gameplay takes place in both the real world and the ghost world, and tapping a button allows you to toggle between the two. In the ghost world, you can use the stylus to draw a path between items that you can jump your soul into. The radius for this ability is limited, however, so you can’t traverse solely in this mode.
In the real world, you can use your ‘ghost trick’ ability on every item that you jump into to affect the environment in some way. This may move an object in such a way that a new path is created or opened up to you in the spirit world. Through a judicious use of tricks in the real world and navigating through the real world, you can eventually thwart whatever nefarious activity is about to happen.
In the demo I played, I jumped into a guitar, a bicycle, a ladder, a lever for a crane, and eventually the latch for a wrecking ball which I was more than than happy to drop on the head of the assailant. Doing so altered the fate of the girl, who will now live on thanks to my intervention. The demo promised that in time I would be able to uncover the reasons behind my own demise.
I had a great time with such an inventive take on the puzzler genre; the art style was well executed and polished, and the characters were immediately endearing. The game had a fun sense of humor that came through even in my limited demo time. I love epic big-budget RPGs and action games as much as the next gamer, but I also feel that video games as a whole would be well served by having many more quirky thinking titles like Ghost Trick. It was a pleasant surprise, and this game is definitely on my radar now.