After two years getting nothing because Capcom’s unwillingness to localize Great Ace Attorney, justice is served for western Ace Attorney fans who can at last come back to court. And they didn’t wait all this time for nothing…
The adventures of the remote ancestor Ryûnosoke are a thing of past (literally, by the way). Phoenix Wright, the unrivaled hero of the series, comes back in his famous blue suit for some exotic story, since it happens abroad for most part. Arrived in the kingdom of Kurain to see his old friend Maya Fey (who was his assistant in the first 3 games), the lawyer now in his thirties will soon get itself into trouble in a judiciary system a bit… original.
Much to his surprise, the very job of defense attorney doesn’t even exist in Kurain. The judiciary system is considered perfect and the defense of the defendant totally pointless. Phoenix becomes therefore the one and only brave enough lawyer to face the prosecution in this weird country which deliver sentences based… on divination! (Very) young princess Leifa is indeed capable of summoning the memory of the victim and showing his/her last moments of life. Which directly brings us to the big innovation of Ace Attorney 6.
At the start of each trial, Leifa will “display” what the deceased has seen just before dying, and you surely guessed that it will be right against your case! That said, the dead don’t lie : what you’ll see is completely true and you can’t accuse Leifa of “lying”. However, her interpretation of the fact is not perfect and she will overlook some small details that are key to explain the course of events. That’s were you must strike : the five senses of the victim are displayed and you must find the one (sight, smell, touch, etc) that doesn’t fit with the prosecution’s theory. When interpretation is busted, Leifa leaves and the trial continues in a normal way, that is to say testimonies to examine and evidence to show at the right time.
As in Ace Attorney Dual Destinies, Pheonix is not alone. Apollo and Athena will take the spotlight in regular trials taking place in the usual regional courtroom. While the Apollo/Trucy duo will sound familiar because being thrown in a case revolving around the young magician’s performance, it’s clear that Capcom doesn’t really know what to do with Athena, her only trial not having the slightest investigation part!
To make up for this, we’re happy to welcome back Simon Blackquill : the prosecutor of Ace Attorney Dual Destines will have a bigger role than his counterparts in the previous episode. Pheonix’s colleagues will face a international prosecutor called Nayuta Samahdi. Monk himself, the character seems almost to far-fetched (even for the series) : his interventions feel repetitive, and he lacks the charisma to live up to Blackquill or even Barok Von Zieks.
Lawyer specialized in psychology, Athena comes back with her famous mood matrix, interface capable of analyzing the witness’s feelings. Used quite a few times in this sixth episode, this system will ask you to find contradictions between the testimony and the displayed mood of the person telling it. The intensity of emotions and the context of the crime are also to be taken into account. This time, you’ll also have to point out and interpret visual elements present in the witness’s subconscious.
Other gameplay mechanics are still there but more discreet. Apollo will use again its bracelet of truth to detect nervous gestures of people hiding something, and getting them to talk. Pheonix will have a few psy-locks to break : some interlocutors need to be shown a few pieces of evidence to remember stuff or lower their guard. The gameplay variety is thus actually more satisfying than in Great Ace Attorney.
Capcom said they wanted to make Ace Attorney 6 harder so that it wouldn’t look like a mere visual novel. Mission accomplished? Maybe yes, maybe not. The game is very inconsistent in the hints it provides to the player : sometimes you won’t get any help at all, sometimes some allusions may lead you directly to the answer when comes the time to show some proof. Still, this newest episode is back with complex intrigues, countless hypothesis and numerous mysteries. The player’s brainstorming never stops here. Some puzzles were actually nicely tricky, like this one that will hella difficult to localize because based on the Japanese alphabet hiragana.
Every time you makes two mistakes in a row, a small “help” command will pop, allowing you to ask the partner’s opinion, who will give more or less directly the solution. Capcom should have found better balance in this, because relying on this option can be felt as a personal defeat by the player, which wouldn’t be the case with the usual hints. Besides, Ace Attorney keeps the “logic path” at the end of each trial. That was far from needed, this system being unnecessary guidance in thinking instead of the player. Another surprising thing is that when you actually lose in a trial, the game doesn’t throw you back at the beginning of the chapter but… exactly where you lost! Saving and game over are just for show : there is no more challenge or pressure.
Ace Attorney 6 does live up to the series’ reputation for its narrative. It then again contain eccentric and amazing characters : among lots of others, the schizophrenic comedian having four personalities, the amnesiac resistance member and… a toy helicopter! All this set of course in a story full of amazing twists and surprises. The intensity of the narrative never goes down in the 50 hours of play or so. The suspense is incredible, the humor is juicy, the emotion will bring you to tears. Impossible to stay unimpressed when the culprits are unmasked or unexpected witness come to court, all the more true that timing coincides with the best music. Reveal the Truth is as good as ever, but Menyo’s theme will rival it this year. Better still, Capcom’s game goes into uncommon topics like Rakugo, traditional Japanese comedy, making its content fresh and original. Interesting also to point out that the last chapter starts on a civil case, a first that makes for an unforgettable confrontation.
Cherry on the cake, the publisher had some free content ready just after the release of the game in Japan. It’s composed a full additional chapter and two mini-trials. While the latter are mainly fun stuff and parody, the chapter toki o koeru gyakuten adds 20% of content free of charge! It’s as cleverly written as the main chapters, and reunites Phoenix, Maya, Edgeworth and Larry Butz for a trial like “the good old times”. Series veterans, you will be thrilled.
Years go by but Ace Attorney never lowers the experience. Innovating, fascinanting by its well directed narrative, Ace Attorney 6 is a gem for lovers of puzzles and good stories. We’d have wanted Capcom to be more cautious with the gameplay, but it’s nevertheless a huge hit.