You All Need To Play The Ghost Trick Remaster

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is getting a remaster. I was on a Discord call with friends when the announcement was made during this week’s Direct, and I totally lost my shit. One of the most innovative, inventive, and charming narrative puzzle games ever made is finally getting its due, and not just on Switch – it’s coming to all platforms so I can force all my loved ones to play it and understand exactly what they’ve been missing.

Everyone was a bit confused about my excitement for this cult classic, partly because most of them had never heard of it and thought I was just having another one of my very common weeaboo moments. But this is more than that. It’s the return of an adventure game that was incredibly ahead of its time back in 2010, as it pushed the Nintendo DS to its limits and told a sharp and unexpectedly poignant murder mystery lined with supernatural oddities and faces I’ve come to remember fondly over the past thirteen years. God, I feel so damn old.

From the minds behind Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney came a fiercely creative gem that launched when gaming was fully embracing the experimental. It was a time when budgets were smaller and the emergence of new hardware allowed for ample means to fiddle with new ideas and have no fear of compromise. Ghost Trick is exactly that, and should forever be lauded for thinking outside the box, and telling a story that didn’t give in to boring anime archetypes or overwrought cliches to keep itself afloat. Everything felt so fresh and new.

You play as Sissel. Well, kinda. You play as his ghost, with the main character meeting his death in the game’s opening scene as he loses his memory and has to figure out precisely what led him to this predicament. As he awakens, a young woman is held at gunpoint by a mysterious assailant, and it’s your job to use Sissel’s newfound supernatural powers to move about the environment and prevent her certain death. There’s only a limited amount of time left to save the day, and letting the clock tick down will see the very worst come to pass.

The stylus is used to hop between fluorescent blue lights across the environment, meaning you have possession of certain objects such as a stationary bike or an unmanned radio. Using them will likely attract the attention of living souls nearby, getting them to stop hurting friends, or open a door for us to pass through and possess another item. It’s been several years so I can’t remember specific puzzles, but each one possesses a similar ingenuity to a fearsome riddle or multi-tiered trap, with dozens of little pieces slotting together in ways that demand you think outside the box. It being a race against time only makes it so much better.

Sissel can also communicate with fellow ghosts or those who die in his presence, including an adorably chatty dog called Missile. Ghost Trick’s writing is awash with charm and clever observations, its cast bouncing off the screen thanks to hand-drawn animation work that puts nearly everything else on the DS to shame. Humour is also bookended by tragedy, the narrative often broaching on dark topics, like the fragility of our own mortality as characters are killed off and brought back to life by cruel twists of fate.

I haven’t even mentioned the music or character designs, both representing a timeless style that should translate beautifully to modern displays and higher resolutions. If anything, it felt like the original game was held back by the DS, yet it used these limitations to its advantage when creating a narrative adventure that, 13 years later, remains unmatched. Even if you’re not a fan of Phoenix Wright or quirky supernatural stories, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective offers something different and deserves another chance at success. Check out it later this year, and watch this incredible Steamed Hams parody a fan made in the meantime.

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