GAME: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
CASE: Turnabout Trump
CONSOLES: DS, Wii, iOS, 3DS
As I write this, twitter has just recently been abuzz with the news that Donald Trump's lawyer has been raided. By the time the review goes live, who knows where the case will have lead. Perhaps the Donald will have been impeached? Perhaps he'll have done thirty other outrageous things and you won't even remember this. Nonetheless, it's very distracting having those thoughts in the back of my head as I review a videogame court case with "Trump" in the title. I'll try to stay on topic.
This is the first case of the fourth game in the series, a soft reboot starring a new playable protagonist. The eponymous Apollo Justice has a new silly haircut, new relationships and mysteries, and is right at the start of his career as a rookie Attorney. It's also a big change for me. While I played the original trilogy games to completion back at the time of their release, I don't think I'd ever even finished the first case of this game or the two which come after it. I'll now be experiencing these games completely fresh.
As a first episode in a story, this case does everything right. The defendant is none other than Phoenix Wright himself, stripped of his attorney's badge and now playing piano and poker in a seedy restaurant/ club. The events of seven years ago, when a case left Phoenix in shame, are teased but obviously not revealed.
As the case plays out, the witness-cum-culprit is none other than Apollo's own mentor and Phoenix' old friend. Just as I was wondering what new twist they could place on a new attorney's first trial, this was pretty exciting stuff. Groundwork is laid for some seriously tangled webs of mystery. What happened seven years ago? What roles did Phoenix and Gavin play? What has happened to the legal system to create this dark age of the law?
Where I didn't find things so satisfying was the interaction between player and proceedings. As the case played out, progression was tied less to cleverly spotting inconsistencies between the witness' statements and the evidence, more to triggering interventions by other characters. The final denouement came almost entirely from Phoenix, him holding Apollo's hand the whole way. It was fun to witness, like playing as Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2 and witnessing how cool Snake was, but I hope the game eases up after this tutorial.
At another point, a new mechanic was introduced wherein Apollo spotted a character's tell (touching the back of her neck when she lied) and pressed her to access the truth. The idea has legs; L.A Noire builds most of a game around it. Here, though, it was signposted and digital in a way that left little room for interaction.
This was a tutorial case in a game designed to entice newcomers. Perhaps, as the game rolls on, more opportunities will present themselves for me to feel like I'm engaging in the case. The interaction and writing used to shine because they were synonymous. Now, though, Capcom have built the wall.
Pun of the week: Pretty weak, but an oft-contradicted witness has the surname "Orly."
A twist on the opening case formula with a fun little mystery but some potentially worrying decisions in how the player interacts. Sad.