GAME: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
CASE: Monstrous Turnabout
CONSOLES: 3DS, iOS
I said last time that the final case was building up a great deal of hype that it might struggle to capitalise on. As the initial investigation proceeds, this only continues. We're promised spies and subterfuge, we see old characters return like Edgeworth and Pearls. We have everything on the line; Athena has been accused and Blackquill is scheduled to be executed the very next day. It would take a hell of a day in court to live up to all of this.
Thankfully, and perhaps remarkably, the game pulls it off for the most part. The final courtroom battle is a legally unusual showdown at the mercy of a kidnapper at first, then later potential assassins, held in the burned shell of the courtroom which was bombed previously. Phoenix and Edgeworth turn their talents first to the initial case which saw Blackquill sentenced to death, then to the new murder which Athena has been accused of.
The plot and mystery here are smart and tight. Although events play out around a futuristic space exploration lab, with robots and rockets and over-the-top stunts, the actual tale is mostly one of familial drama, loves lost and the traditional simplicity which made me love Ace Attorney's writing in the first place.
Every member of the cast goes through a genuine and powerful character arc, and they all pay off fairly well. Phoenix finds his footing as an older, wiser mentor character, Apollo goes through his moody angst period and comes out the other side, Athena breaks free of her past and completes her origin story. Even the prosecution get to be well-rounded characters, and among the witnesses we get the series' first canonically gay character who isn't a loudly offensive stereotype.
Actually being able to play as an older, more mature Phoenix is a good feeling, particularly when for me it really has been more than a decade since I first put that cart into my original DS. I should give a shout-out here to a new mechanic to Dual Destinies which I haven't mentioned before. Often, near the end of a case, we'll enter into the protagonist's thought process and piece together the mad conclusion which the defence will then come to. It's a nice way to be involved in the "turn" which can sometimes feel completely out of the player's hands elsewhere.
Apollo's spotting of tells and Athena's analytical psychology also get a look-in. Both still leave me a little underwhelmed, but they're used sparingly enough here and without overshadowing the central joy of spotting contradictions. With regard to the psychology in particular, I'm very disappointed in myself for not noticing Athena's surname was a dumb joke until I met her mother, who is also involved in psychology.
The case plays out in the typical Phoenix Wright way; a mad theory creates room for a third party, who is then blamed for the murder in order to free the defendant. You piece together enough evidence to drag this new villain out of hiding, then you cross examine them until they squirm their way into admitting their guilt. It is at this point where, unfortunately, the game doesn't quite pull it off.
The problem is with who the villain is eventually revealed to be. The last time the series pulled a twist like this was when Godot turned out to be the killer in Trials and Tribulations' finale. There it was a fitting and tragic end to multiple characters' arcs. Here, the reveal that Bobby Fulbright was actually the villainous spy in disguise was a pretty damp squib. He's an unsatisfying villain to dethrone, and this cheap twist isn't nearly enough to justify the caricature of a character in the preceding game.
This was an adequate case, which was ultimately a fitting way to end this game. The cases were all well put together, the characters were fun for the most part and there wasn't anything as glaringly wrong as Apollo Justice's lazy writing or Justice For All's weakest cases. On the other hand, there was none of the drama or heart which made the original game or, in particular, Trials and Tribulations such masterpieces. More of the same was never a bad thing, but I'm hoping for much more from Spirit of Justice.
Suspiciously British Colloquialism of the Week: "Bloody strong rock!".
A fun exciting, case that gives a great showing to the full cast of characters new and old. Only let down by a villain reveal that just doesn't quite pop.