Video Game Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

Details: It takes about twenty-six hours to beat according to howlongtobeat.com. More information can be found at http://www.ace-attorney.com/ and  https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/phoenix-wright-ace-attorney-dual-destinies-3ds/

Score: 7/10

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is a good visual novel, but it could be better with some more animations and full voice acting.

Dual Destinies takes place in some version of America, in the near future I think. Which is confusing because this is clearly Japan and I think they made it America because they thought it would be more comprehensible for American audiences… but this is still clearly Japan. Anyways, the legal system in this world has entered its “Dark Age.” Lawyers have adopted an end-justifies-the-means mentality and just fabricate evidence and lie in order to win their court cases. Enter Phoenix Wright and his plucky crew of attorneys as they stick to the truth in order to defend their clients in a string of seemingly unrelated cases. Little do they know that a greater mystery is afoot.

Dual Destinies is a visual novel, which means there’s a lot of reading involved. There is some voice acting, but those are reserved primarily for hand draw, fully animated cutscenes. Otherwise, there is no voice acting other than occasional sound bites. This is the biggest hurdle for me because this genre of video game is so story heavy. In a story heavy game, voice acting is key, at least for me.

Overlooking that, the story is pretty good. The story is a what would happen if you combined an American style legal drama with the craziness of Japanese anime. You get a lot of the same tropes as in anime, certain stereotypical characters. While being a legal drama, it’s really a big mystery that you slowly uncover.

Gameplay consists of two parts: investigation and trial. Investigation is where you move from location to location and talk to people or investigate a crime scene. Investigation is my least favorite part of this game. Trials are more fun. Trials are simplistic in that it’s basically a matching game. During trial, a witness gives a few pieces of testimony. You get a few pieces of evidence from the investigation part. Then you try to match the piece of evidence to a certain piece of testimony. The goal is prove a contradiction by showing evidence that pokes wholes in the witness’ testimony.

Some of these where easy to do. Most were more arduous in that they require the player to pay attention and go through each piece of evidence and testimony. This could’ve been a tedious process, but I found it mostly fun because the story was so engaging. The testimony was also engaging and I found the solutions to be more logical in this game than in the last Ace Attorney game I played. In the end, this is still mostly a matching game.

There are a few other minigames included that occasionally pop up during trial or investigation. One is Phoenix Wright’s special power, which is break psychological blocks with evidence. This is like trial in that you present evidence to contradict testimony. Then there’s the Apollo Wright special power where you have to observe a physical tick as someone is giving testimony. This is more annoying in that you have to move a small cursor around a persons body while they speak and physical ticks are easy to miss.

The newest addition is Athena’s special power, which is the ability to read emotions during a person’s testimony. You basically have four emotion lights that go on and off as a person testifies. Your job is to find changes in emotions that seem out of place given the context of the witness’s testimony. This could’ve been annoying, but luckily they give you infinite tries to do this so its hard to fail at it. The other minigames also cannot be failed, so they weren’t that bad.

Visually, the game is a visual novel so it’s not that great. Each character has like three or four animations that they reuse over and over again. Most of the game is comprised of static images, except for the characters models. The most impressive visuals in this game are in the anime cut scenes, but those are few and far between.

The game does not have full voice acting, leaving the voice acting for the anime cut scenes. This is really disappointing as this is a story heavy game and would have benefited greatly from voice acting. The music is pretty good, though there are only a few tracks.

Overall, the game was pretty good for a visual novel. This is mostly because I enjoyed the story, which is the crux upon which story heavy games like this should be judged.

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