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Review: Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies

30 October on Blogs, Reviews  
Phoenix está de volta como advogado

Phoenix is back as a lawyer

It's not everyday that we see lawyers shouting and pointing, mediums channeling victims and prosecutors with whips - but this kind of craziness is commonplace in the Ace Attorney world. The series, known as Gyakuten Saiban in Japan, was made famous by the name of its first protagonist, Phoenix Wright. The series now receives a fifth chapter, but without the able pen of longtime writer Shu Takumi (which wrote every line of the four previous episodes as well as the excellent Ghost Trick). The results are worthy of the franchise - but not necessarily what fans expect.

Athena é a nova advogada do time, com um poder único - psicologia

Athena is the new lawyer in the team, with her unique power - psychology

For those new to the series, the game recreates the emotion of defending those wrongly accused of homicide. Using evidence to point inconsistencies in witness' testimonies, the truth is slowly unraveled - but not without explosive turnabouts.

Players now control three different lawyers: the two previous heroes, Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice, as well as newcomer Athena Cykes, who brings a new mechanic to the table: inspired in the micro-expressions seen on the show Lie to Me, the up-and-coming lawyer is capable of discerning emotions with her sensitive ears and finding new contradictions during cross-examinations. And if you think this isn't absurd enough for the series' standards, don't worry - the samurai philosophy-inspired convicted prosecutor that needs to be brought in from jail certainly will do just fine.

Athena's Mood Matrix in action

With the series arrival on the 3DS, Dual Destinies updates the traditional hand-drawn 2D sprites for animated 3D models, which is a highly-successful enterprise: the original lines were perfectly captured, and animation is better than ever, capturing all the zaniness and personality of the witness losing it while being cross-examined. Likewise, dialogues and puns still shine brightly, serving as the perfect platform to set up all creative conspiracies... and making you feel absolutely ingenious as you connect the dots and unravels the lie.

In an attempt to undo some of the most frustrating elements of the series, the new game simplifies investigation bits, limiting the screens you can search for evidence. On top of that, the game always leaves a note on what you should do next, following the modern trend of excessive hand-holding. When taken into consideration with the fact that every case is very short, some hours will be more than enough to finish the quest - but at least avoiding frustration in exchange of challenge and length.

Jogadores verão muitos rostos familiares na aventura

Many familiar faces will appear during the adventure

All of this seems to point to what could be the best game in the series so far - but that isn't the case. Not only is Dual Destinies pretty short, but the game fails in reproducing Shu Takumi's trademark narrative style: a consistent tone between different part of the adventure. Previous games had a macro-plot that was completely tied-up, with each chapter offering one piece of the puzzle that made it all come together in an amazing finale. The same happened in Ghist Trick, with small hints throughout the game pointing to the unexpected twist, amazingly coming together in the ending. Despite tying up the beginning and the end of the game with flashback, it was the act of mentally tying up strands loose throughout the whole journey in a single tapestry that slowly came together in the end that gave the climax the extra oomph - something that is sorely missing in this fifth chapter, making it less of an accomplishment.

Despite that, the game is still worth many a laugh and several surprises - and serves as an amazing appetizer for Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, written by Takumi himself, which arrives in the West in 2014.

Tech sheet
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
Plataforms: 3DS
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

Author, freelance videogame journalist, cinematography major and a little insane.