Ace Attorney 6 Adds a Fantastical Twist to the Franchise
The Ace Attorney (or Gyakuten Saiban) series has gone to some odd places before. Phoenix Wright has deal with scores of shady characters in equally sketchy situations, from WWE-like wrestlers masquerading as ancient demons to scarred young women who alter their faces and personalities to resemble their dead siblings. Phoenix's time in the courtroom has been a rollercoaster, but the series' latest, Ace Attorney 6, may just take the cake.
I went hands-on with Ace Attorney 6 during Tokyo Game Show this week, and while I only had one case to play in the franchise's native Japanese, I was able to get a clear sense of where the game is going. Phoenix--named Ryuichi Naruhodo in Japanese—has left the games' usual location in a country of mixed Japanese and American sensibilities for an exotic oriental country called Kulain. Kulain's people are more in tune with the spirit world and have an inclination towards the supernatural, giving Ace Attorney 6 a more mystical framework on which it builds its story.
In the case I played, Phoenix's local tour guide, a child named Bokuto, is accused of murdering a man and stealing an old artifact. Phoenix, being the good guy he is, steps into Kulain's court system to defend Bokuto. As with every Ace Attorney game, the courtroom is presided over by a somewhat silly judge who provides more comic relief than sound judgment. In Bokuto's case, Phoenix faces off against a prosecutor who looks a lot like Winston Payne in a new fancy hat. He taunted Phoenix, and Phoenix tried his hardest to keep calm and remain clear-headed.
In addition to its logical law puzzles, the Ace Attorney series is known for introducing a new deduction mechanic in each game. In Ace Attorney 6, this is "spirit vision," in which a medium visually conjures the final moments of the dead. This is how Kulain finds and convicts its murderers, by summoning the dead's final moments. Phoenix must poke through the final thoughts and sights of these dead people and poke holes in the vision by comparing the vision to the evidence log. In this way, Phoenix can point out thoughts and visual elements that don't make sense with witness testimony.
Enter Leifa, the princess of Kulain and a spirit medium who shows the final memories of the dead in a pool of water in the center of the courtroom. In the case I played, Lefia conjured the murdered man's last thoughts, which clearly showed Bokuto. I was able to rewatch the vision Lefia conjured until I found the pieces that didn't quite make sense--pieces that exonerated Bokuto. Leifa was far from happy, and this case did a good job of setting her up at Phoenix's rival. Of course, Phoenix has dealt with spiritual-based testimonies before, but this time around the rival prosecutor feels a little meaner, and a little more dangerous.
Ace Attorney 6 features all the staples of the series so far, and I enjoyed the mystical twist. Taking the franchise into a more fantastical direction offers a fresh spin on its classic logical puzzles, and I'm looking forward to playing the full localized version when it launches in the west in 2016 for Nintendo 3DS.
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