Ghost Trick Hands-On ImpressionsBy Patrick Klepek - Posted Apr 21, 2010
Between Resident Evil, Dead Rising, and the newly US-bound Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, it's becoming apparent that Capcom has a healthy fascination with the undead. Ghost Trick, on the other hand, doesn't require players to dismember the shambling creatures coming at them; in Ghost Trick, you are the undead, a freshly-killed human who's become a manipulative ghost.
Sterling McGarvey couldn't stop raving about Ghost Trick at Tokyo Game Show last year. The long lines of attendees prevented me from playing it there, but last week's Captivate 2010 provided an opportunity to see what the fuss was about (and understand the text scrolling across the screen, thanks to the English translation). Sterling wasn't lying; Ghost Trick is a fiendishly clever puzzler that requires a surprising amount of quick action.
You're trying to save lives in Ghost Trick, not end them. Even though you've lost your own ability to exist in the real-world, for a limited time, your spirit lives on. The game assumes ghosts remain to cause things to go bump in the night. Manipulating objects is your primary objective, whether it's making a light flicker on and off, pushing a tire back and forth, causing a flag to blow in the wind or any number of other seemingly random actions. Linking these actions together, however, can distract the character on the screen. You're tasked with saving the lives of others by playing with the nearby objects to create suitable distractions.
In the all-too-brief puzzle available at Captivate, I learned these aren't singular actions. You aren't just poking around the screen for the right item to "trigger" a scare. Rather, it can involve several actions linked to one another. Your spirit has a limited reach, which means you need to transfer your spirit from one object to the other. Reaching the next object might involve inhabiting a tire, pushing that towards a fan, turning on the fan, moving the tire back in the other direction, and leaping onto a rope that, when triggered, brings down a flag to carry you.
It doesn't take long to imagine how Capcom might make these sequences more devious and head-scratching over the course of the entire game, especially if time restrictions become involved.
Given how tough it is to find a good new puzzle game these days, Ghost Trick makes me happy. That Capcom is giving US gamers a chance to check it out later in 2010 does too.