Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney -Dual Destinies review
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney -Dual Destinies review
This newest installment in the Ace Attorney franchise has had much to live up to. It is the first game in the series to be on the 3DS, and thus it is the first game to move away from the 2d sprites that made up its earlier games, moving towards to fully 3D character models. In addition it is the first game in the Phoenix Wright games to not be made by Shu Takumi, the creator of the Ace Attorney series. Thus it had a lot to live up to. Would the game still look good after the transition to 3d? Would the stories still be as riveting as the earlier ones? Initial signs were good so I decided to dive in. I am glad I did.
The gameplay in Dual Destinies hasn’t changed by a huge amount. Like in previous installments, you will still be investigating crimes, examining crime scenes, questioning witnesses, objecting to testimony, breaking Psyche-Locks and scrolling through a lot of text. I In fact, much of your time playing this game will be spent scrolling through text, unless somehow, something completely stumps you, which did happen to me a few times.
However, the game definitely seemed very easy to me. Especially during Investigation Phases, as the game practically walks you through what you have to do. The cursor used when you examine crime scenes gets outlined in red when you roll it over an interesting piece of the scenery, and when you have examined everything you need to the game tells you to move on. That might not seem that bad, but keep in mind there are not that many other chances to make a mistake during the investigation phases. So it feels like the game is holding your hand through the investigation. Compounding that, there is an actual objectives list, called your “Notes”, that actually tells you what you have to do next. Not that it is particularly hard to figure that out by yourself. The rest of the investigation phase is just scrolling text, and maybe picking a line of questioning that usually only becomes available in order anyway, or presenting evidence to stir memories. The whole thing felt linear to the extreme, and had me counting the minutes to the actual trial.
The Trial phase is much more interactive, although you will still be scrolling through a lot of text. But you will also be cross examining witnesses which is good fun. You listen to the testimony, and then you press them or present evidence in order to find a contradiction in their testimony. The addition of a new character, Athena Cykes, also leads to a new game play mechanic in which she looks in a person’s heart in order to find emotions that contradict their testimony. It is a fun new mechanic, although it is still just finding contradictions. But it was interesting finding out why a witness is happy why they shouldn’t be, or not surprised when they should be. It really gives the story the ability to proceed in new ways, although it can get kind of ridiculous when you are presenting contradictory emotions in place of actual evidence.
But the gameplay would just fall flat if the story wasn’t good. Luckily that isn’t the case. I was glued to my 3DS at certain points in the game because of the story. It was so good that I easily forgot that all that I was doing was scrolling text. The game starts off with a courtroom bombing and the trial of the supposed bomber, Juniper Woods. Of course, the wrong person was accused and you have to free her. You start of playing as Athena Cykes, the game’s new playable character but just a small way into the trial she freezes up in fear, unable to move. For the rest of the trial you play as Phoenix Wright who comes in just in the nick of time. The prosecutor in the first trial is stereotypically smarmy Winston Payne but the first case is easy and you handily prove your client’s innocence.
The Story goes to more interesting places from there. The prosecutor for the rest of the cases is Simon Blackquill. He is nicknamed “The Twisted Samurai” and makes all kinds of references to samurais and sword duels. Strangely enough he is serving a murder sentence while prosecuting, and also tends to intimidate the judge in funny ways. The funny banter in previous games has also made its return, and the game effortlessly transitions from the comical to the serious, and there were some scenes that were legitimately chilling. The game can set a mood very well, even when it is just text and pictures flashing across the screen. I couldn’t see most of the stories’ twists and turns coming and I was guessing the whole time. I don’t want to say much more since the story basically is the game but I’ll just say the story made mashing the A button to scroll though text fun to do and that is saying something.
The graphics in Dual Destinies are done very well. The models look great, they animate fluidly, and all of the poses you saw from the characters in 2d are present here. It is how game franchises should transition from 2d to 3d in every sense. The 3d transition also helps crime scenes, as you can now rotate your camera around the scene, to get a look at every angle. This is important to finding evidence that might otherwise be hidden as you can now rotate behind scenery that is blocking your view. But the the main thing that will catch you are the characters. They look much better than the 2d games. The game isn’t overly ambitious in the technical department but what it does, it does well.
In conclusion, the newest installment in the Ace attorney franchise deserves all the praise its predecessors got. It can stand up with the best games in the series, and the transition to 3d hasn’t damped the game’s unique charm in the slightest. Capcom has caught a lot of flak as of late for certain policies and decisions, but Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies proves that they are more than capable of delivering great games.