For all the five-star games on the App Store (and Google Play), there’s not really much in the way of plot. At best we have a vague justification for the action that unfolds, rather than a genuine attempt to tell any sort of story. Maybe that’s just the nature of quick-fix smartphone games, hmm…
In any case! Enter: Ghost Trick. It has enough plot for 100 games over, plot that’s insanely convoluted and worthy of a Chuck Palahniuk novel. It’s fantastic. Oh, and not just because of the mental storyline.
See, Ghost Trick is a port of a Nintendo DS game, which explains why it’s a) heavy on the story, b) fairly expensive (£6.99), c) pretty long (15-20 hours), and d) better than most other stuff on the App Store.
I won’t go too much into the Ghost Trick plot here, but essentially you control a little spirit who wakes at the scene of a murder, and your aim is to answer: “Who am I? Why was I killed?”
And how do you do that? Well, the action is focused around a series of murders; one of your powers is the ability to rewind time to four minutes before death. You watch things play out then attempt to change fate.
In ghost mode, you can move from object to object (with a limited range), with some items welcoming ghost tricks (hence the title). You might, for example, swing on a chandelier (in order to reach other parts of the murder scene), or cause a candle to burn brighter (usually in an attempt to set something on fire).
Along the way, you’ll meet an array of bizarre characters, including Missile the dog, Ray the talking lamp, a dancing detective (whose white coat reflects his desire to keep a clean sheet), a detective on death row, and various other misfits.
And that, in a nutshell, is Ghost Trick. There’s loads more to it (such as the ability to communicate with people who’ve died and subsequently been saved), but them’s the basics.
Gripes? Well, the dialogue in Ghost Trick can drag on, and with the game placing an emphasis on trial and error, you’ll find yourself reading some conversations several times.
It’s also quite difficult to care at first, as Ghost Trick makes little to no sense in the early chapters. Indeed, the characters frequently acknowledge how insane the plot is.
But Ghost Trick’s climax is absolutely fantastic, and the way the various plot threads come together is nothing short of genius.
Not one for short bus trips; Ghost Trick demands your time, attention and patience, but it’s absolutely worth it. One of the best handheld games I’ve ever played.
- Fairly simple mechanics…
- …dressed up in a fantastically bizarre story
- 15-20 hours of gameplay
- A tad verbose at times
- Insanely convoluted
- Tough to get into at first
Summary: Ghost Trick’s gameplay alone warrants a look, but it’s the plot – involving meteors, submarines and talking lamps – that makes it stand out. Brilliant stuff.
Price: £6.99 @ App Store (initially free to play)
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.