Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective review | An overlooked gem triumphantly returns

ghost trick review

The re-release of Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi’s 2010 classic features lovingly reworked graphics and a puzzle mechanic that still feels fresh after all these years. Here’s our Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective review.


If you were one of the lucky few to play Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective when it was released on the Nintendo DS back in 2010, then good news: here’s your chance to play it again in glorious HD, with a beautifully remastered soundtrack to boot. But if you missed out the first time around, then you’re in for an absolute treat.

Ghost Trick was directed by Shu Takumi, who is probably best known for creating the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series. Takumi went off to make Ghost Trick following the release of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney in 2007, but it ended up faring pretty disastrously at retail, despite excellent reviews, and he subsequently went back to making Ace Attorney games. But now, at long last, Ghost Trick has been given a new lease of life.

If you’re a fan of the Ace Attorney games, then in some ways Ghost Trick will be familiar territory. It features the same gloriously ridiculous character design and knotty plots of the Ace Attorney series, but pairs this with a unique possession mechanic that’s quite unlike anything else out there.

ghost trick review

Credit: Capcom.

Genre: Puzzle adventure | Format: PC (tested), Switch, PS4, Xbox One | Developer: Capcom | Publisher: Capcom | Price: £24.98 | Release date: 30 June

You play as Sissel, and the game begins with you hovering over your dead body, with no memory of your past life. A possessed anglepoise lamp named Ray then says you have until dawn to work out who killed you and regain your memory before your spirit dissipates. And a talking desk lamp is just the first of the many twists and surprises Ghost Trick has to offer.

At the press of a button, Sissel can flip over into the ghost world, where time stands still. In this view, it’s revealed that some objects around him have blue, glowing ‘cores’, which he can leap into and sometimes manipulate – like turning on a fan or pulling a curtain. Sissel also has the ability to leap into the body of the recently deceased and rewind time to four minutes before their death, giving him the chance to prevent their murder.

Thus sets up one of the most satisfying puzzle mechanics in video games. After witnessing a character’s death, you can then rewind as many times as you like to work out how to prevent it. At first it might seem impossible. But as you play around with the objects – rocking a bowl of donuts, opening a cupboard door, turning on a TV – gradually a path towards the solution opens up. Often it’s convoluted in the very best way, like a ludicrous Heath Robinson machine in which disparate objects interact in just the right way to elicit a satisfying outcome. Quite often it comes down to exact timing, flipping a switch at just the right moment to make it all come together.

ghost trick review

Credit: Capcom.

The puzzles build beautifully over the course of 12 hours, becoming more devious and elaborate, and the game even introduces a second protagonist with a completely different set of powers to mix things up. At the same time, the plot is fantastically circuitous, each chapter ending with another delicious twist. The story constantly veers off in unexpected directions, bringing in hitmen, meteorites, romantic novelists, foreign spies, Pomeranians and giant chickens, and it all ends with a truly satisfying denouement.

This new version features completely reworked graphics, although they strictly adhere to the style of the original, just much sharper and smoother than before. There are also tons of illustrations to unlock, including some line-drawn character sketches from early in the game’s development, as well as various different screen backgrounds and other bits and bobs. In short, it’s a beautifully curated package.

And Ghost Trick remains a wonderful game, without doubt one of the best Takumi has ever produced. Here’s hoping that its unexpected and long-awaited re-emergence means there’s a chance we might see a sequel before long.

Credit: Capcom.


Inspector Cabanela is an absolute delight from the moment he pirouettes onto the screen, but the dancing inspector is just one of the many fabulously weird characters you’ll meet in Ghost Trick. There’s also the junkyard superintendent with a pigeon on his head, the oddball leafleteer who lives in the park, the loyal and enthusiastic Pomeranian, the chicken-obsessed singing chef… It’s a joy to spend time with all of them.

Verdict: 91%

A must-play for fans of the Ace Attorney series, this unique puzzle game stands as one of Shu Takumi’s finest works.

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