At the beginning of Capcom's Ghost Trick you die. Then the action really starts heating up. I got a chance to play a new level at Gamescom last week, and now I'm going to tell you all about it.
Ghost Trick, developed by Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi, could be the most compelling little adventure game to hit the Nintendo DS since those legal-themed offerings. You play a character named Sissel who wakes up dead in an alleyway, where a hitman is about to dispatch a beautiful young woman. She dies, which triggers Sissel's ability to go back in time four minutes. Using the power of possession, Sissel inhabits ordinary items and performs tricks with them in order to foil murders and help unravel the mystery of his own fading existence.
The trick to Ghost Trick is that possession only works within a limited range. There may be a wrecking ball hanging over the assassin's head, but you can't reach it. Possessing items that move or are carried by other characters is the way to get the job done. When you leap into an item, a description of what your trick does appears in the upper screen. A ladder might extend, or a bicycle wheel might start to turn.
During my brief demo at Gamescom, I was given the task of possessing a telephone near a sick little girl at the far right end of a room. In the middle of the room, an overweight woman sat, typing out romantic letters to a Prime Minister; humorous little messages about a whirlwind love affair.
My spirit started off on the far left of the screen, so obviously I was going to have to move, but how?
Clicking on a thought bubble over the woman's head showed her inner monologue. She was composing the message in her head, and stumbled across a word she didn't understand. She got up and crossed the room, looking for a dictionary. Unfortunately it was hidden beneath the bookcase, and she went back to what she was doing.
I would have to become that dictionary.
I possessed it, but she still failed to detect me. What to do? In the ceiling above me a rat lurked. Possessing a vent near the rat I spooked it, causing it to fall onto the bookcase. I summoned the woman to the bookcase again, then shifted to an item on the shelf, which caused the rat to fall to the floor. Spooked, the woman fell over too, but finally noticed the dictionary. I quickly leap into it, and she carried me across the room.
Halfway there, but still a long way away.
I tried possessing the lamp on the table. Using the trick button caused the lamp to go out, which in turn made the woman screw up her typing. She crumbled up the paper and tossed it into the trashcan, close to the little girl's bed. Now I saw what I had to do. I tricked the lamp again, and then quickly jumped to the paper before she threw it, sailing gracefully across the room into the bin.
A few steps later and I made it into the phone, and the level demo ended. What, you thought I was going to spoil the whole thing?
Ghost Trick is the sort of game I love on the Nintendo DS, promoting creative thinking and problem solving, perfect for handheld consumption. It's a quirky little game with a refined sense of humor that will be mine once it hits North America this winter.