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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Hands-On Preview (PS4) – Still Dead Good

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Hands-On Preview (PS4) – A beloved Nintendo DS gem is brought back to life as Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is revived for PS4. PlayStation Universe went hands-on with the remastered title ahead of its release later this month.

While Capcom has been busy reviving the great and the good in its extensive back catalog, it’s made sure to stop by a few humbler hits along the way. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective has been stuck in the past for 13 years. Effectively, and ironically, dead to a whole new audience. Its release on Nintendo DS and later, mobile, meant it sadly stayed behind as a cult hit one-off. Never say die though because here it is, back in remastered form for PS4.

We were handed a demo that showcase an early portion of the game, kicking right off at the game’s intriguing opening.

Ghost Trick Hands-On Preview [PS4]- Still Dead Good

Ghost Trick opens with a spirit named Sissel coming to as he discovers his physical form slumped dead on the ground in a junkyard. Another spirit approaches him and offers information on the situation. Sissel initially has no memory of what happened to him, which the mysterious other spirit assures him is normal so soon after death. Sissel and the other spirit are not alone in this situation however. A young woman is checking on Sissel’s physical body when a creepy hitman shows up and looks to clear out what he sees as a potential witness to a murder.

Ghost Trick’s visual style has always felt distinctive, but the remastered upgrade makes them pop. If you’d never so much as had an errant thought about Ghost Trick before now, just a few seconds in the presence of its vibrant style is enough to enrapture you. Given the almost iconic look of Ghost Trick creator Shu Takumi’s Ace Attorney franchise, it probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but the work done by artist Koki Kinoshita is fantastic. That key image of Sissel’s corpse with its backside in the air alone tells you exactly what kind of tone we’re dealing with here. Quite the feat for just a single image.

In this opening, the other spirit begins to teach Sissel about the powers his own spirit form has. The titular Ghost Trick. Sissel can enter the spirit world to stop time and move between objects. He can then possess them as long as they are in a close enough vicinity. Once in possession of an item, Sissel can manipulate it in some way.

(Ghost) Trick Shots

The earliest example is possessing a crossing gate and knocking the would-be assassin’s gun from his hand, allowing the woman to escape temporarily. Unfortunately, the hitman does end up catching the mysterious woman and shoots her dead. A pretty strong way to kick off the opening ten minutes of Ghost Trick. But of course, there’s a further twist to the story.

The other spirit informs Sissel he has the ability to travel back in time four minutes before a person’s death by inhabiting their body. He does so for the woman and has to navigate his way back to the area her fate was seemingly sealed. The Ghost Trick mechanic is explored further here as the player must figure out how to get back up to the scene of the soon-to-be double homicide.

Each object Sissel possesses can of course be manipulated, so using this knowledge the traversal becomes a two-dimensional physics puzzle that culminates in a smart combination of a blender and a flag that eventually leads to the change in the woman’s fate. From there, with this woman seemingly the only connection to Sissel’s own forgotten life, he decides to follow her and try to unpack the mystery of who he is and why he was killed before his spirit fades into nothingness in the morning.


The jump from the Nintendo DS’ two-screen layout might well rankle anyone who obsessed about Ghost Trick back in the day, but I can’t say I really noticed anything jarring about the single-screen switch. Sure, a novelty of the original game is lost, but Ghost Trick’s true strengths don’t have to lean on that one gimmick to work. So what we get is a different, but absolutely functional version of a previously portable game. All the relevant HUD bits and bobs just appear on the same screen now, which doesn’t manage to interfere with the important action onscreen.

If you weren’t especially keen on the text explanation-heavy ways of the Ace Attorney series then I can’t see Ghost Trick being particularly endearing to you either. It has a lot of information to get out of its system, especially in those opening moments. It’s worth persevering with though because all those wonderful things about the Ace Attorney games’ drama is stronger in Ghost Trick. We could so easily have lost this game to time, but Capcom’s decision to perform a Ghost trick of its own could yet lead to a successful revival for Sissel and company.