Phoenix Wright has had 15 years to court fans. I think it’s safe to say he’s doesn’t have to do much to defend himself against critics. Yet, he can’t get lax and rest on his laurels. He has to be ready, because people have no trouble casting judgment. Rest assured, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice presents its case well and won’t inspire any objections.
Big things are happening for Phoenix, Apollo and their friends. Maya Fey is finishing her spiritual studies in a foreign land, Khura’in. As she approaches her “graduation,” Phoenix flies in to attend and promptly gets caught up in the country’s judicial system. In this nation, the royal priestess, Rayfa Padma Khura’in, conducts a Divination Séance to find the guilty and convict them, with a 100% conviction rate. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the visions are accurate. Now that Phoenix is in town, he uses his skills to prove people are innocent until proven guilty. Back home in the states, Apollo and Athena find themselves defending Trucy Wright in a case of murder.
There are twists and turns, but justice (and entertainment) is guaranteed.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice’s familiarity is comforting. People go through five cases set in both Los Angeles and Khura’in, attempting to get the innocent acquitted of murder charges. This means first going through an investigation period, examining many elements of crime scenes, including evidence, locations and witnesses found therein. It then transitions into a courtroom phase, where you attempt to prove your client is guilty and pick out the murderer. There are twists and turns, but justice (and entertainment) is guaranteed.
Séance Divination is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice new mechanic and adds even more of a supernatural element to the series. People in Khura’in rely on insights from the royal priestess that show the last few moments of the victim’s life. These play as a video, which can be investigated to find inconsistencies and result in a proper interpretation and insight into the deceased’s end. It can be surprisingly challenging, as you’ll need to find exact details to find the truth, and adds quite a bit of ambiance to the adventure.
The increased difficulty levels is more in line with early Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice entries too. The series has started to feel like it’s been dumbed down a bit over the years. Instead of a Confidence Gauge health bar, you can only make five strikes before you’re out. It also doesn’t tell you answers as you go along. You can turn off the Consult feature, which gives you hints, and I felt like the cases were generally more difficult. It was a welcome revelation, as I’d recently felt like Zero Time Dilemma left me wanting in terms of challenges, and this helped fill the space.
My only quibble with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice is that it might offer too much to do. It introduces Divination Séances, where Rayfa shows the last moments of a victim’s life in the Pool of Souls, that players have to decipher to find the truth. It’s joined by the many other mechanics that have appeared throughout the series, like Phoenix’s Psyche-Locks, Apollo’s ability to perceive tells and tics, Athena’s Mood Matrix and Emma’s forensic investigations. Each one absolutely makes for interesting investigation periods and trials, but it also makes for one of the most complicated Ace Attorney games in recent history. I was fine with it, but could see this overwhelming newcomers to the series.
This is essentially Phoenix and friends’ reunion special.
But then, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice isn’t a game for newcomers. This is essentially Phoenix and friends’ reunion special. Everyone of importance is back here. Naturally, that means Phoenix, Apollo, Phoenix’s former assistant, Maya, Apollo’s assistant, Athena, Phoenix’s daughter, Trucy, Maya’s sister, Pearl, Miles Edgeworth, Emma Skye, Simon Blackquill and of course Gaspen Payne. Almost every case brings with it a familiar face. This isn’t to say someone who has never, ever played an installment won’t enjoy this entry, but I absolutely wouldn’t recommend starting with this sixth game.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice is something for the fans. It’s a gorgeous game that pays tribute to a series that’s been going strong since 2001. It still manages to inject gravity and whimsy, as well as drama and delight, into each case. It builds on past titles, while still providing a consistently pleasing experience.