This was the case I’d been waiting for. The return of Maya Fey, a deep dive into the Kurhainese legal system and a genuinely tense application of the Defence Culpability Act.
The return of beloved sidekick Maya has been teased since the end of the previous game, and even here we had two cases which very knowingly delayed her appearance. When she finally returns, though, she is as lovable as ever.
Of course, the game takes this joy and turns it to ash. Maya is, what else, accused of murder. Naturally Phoenix doesn’t waste any time throwing himself in at the deep end and we’re wrapped up in a macabre crime, which becomes a double homicide, and which slowly gets our heroes wrapped up in the ongoing revolution in Khurain.
Despite only taking two days, both of which feature a new murder to investigate, this case felt long. It didn’t drag, it was never tedious, but the sense of tension and doom was something to wade through. Brilliantly, Maya is found guilty in the first day, herself and Phoenix sentenced to death, and it is only the accusation of a second murder which allows Phoenix to get to the truth.
This was a gripping, unputdownable case which used the concept and setting really well. Characters showed growth and charm, the prosecution continues to be delightfully unlikeable, and the mystery is really cleverly untangled.
There are lighter moments. Maya has an extended full-frontal topless scene in the courtroom. We also finally see her channel a male spirit. These two might be related. Defiant Dragon Datz A’Rebel is amusing, even beyond the dumb pun of a name, and the whole case is wrapped up through ingenious deductions about kids’ superhero show theme songs.
Much less bright and breezy is the finale. The climax to an Ace Attorney case can make or break it. A truly hateable villain, their web of lies finally torn apart by decisive evidence and ingenious insight, coming apart at the seems in spectacular fashion is one of the most satisfying feelings in games. This game features none of that. There is no evil villain, just a tragic series of events culminating in a noble suicide.
I can imagine this ending leaving a bad taste in the mouths of entitled types who need videogames to constantly make them feel better about their inadequacies in the real world, but for me it was a fantastic little story that really pulled on the heartstrings and made me believe in the wider story of revolution in Khurain.