As a compromise, I limit one game per device, a maximum of one microtransaction if the game is free-to-play, and with very strict rules on genre, namely no puzzle games like Bejeweled (I still haven't forgiven my Dad for getting me hooked on it) or endless runners like Jetpack Joyride (my Dad still hasn't forgiven me for getting him hooked on it). Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective from Capcom, which at first I thought was a spin-off title in the Phoenix Wright series*, is almost a puzzle game. It's a point-and-click (tap-and-hold?) adventure game with logic and time-based puzzles.
|Hmm, that "D" looks familiar....|
|Like that there parrot that done ceased to be...|
Manipulating possessed objects forms another third of your suite of phantom powers, called "Trick" mode for the sake of a title drop. Although the backgrounds have the same degree of awkward clutter as a hidden object game, the number and type of objects you can inhabit is limited, complete with a few red herrings thrown in. If Ghost mode reminded me of Firefly's Diary, this part of the game reminds me of Haunting with Polterguy on the Genesis. In that game, your goal was to scare away the inhabitants of a house. Your tricks here are a little more versatile and subtle, though getting attention via diversion and distraction is a core part of the gameplay. This part can become the most frustrating as many of the tricks you have to pull off rely on characters standing in specific spots, looking a certain direction, or performing some subtle action you're likely to miss more often than not. It always strikes me as a cheap tactic to reduce strategizing and problem solving to a time trial in order to make something more challenging.
|A Dead Dog, a Distressed Damsel, and a Dastardly... Dog-killer? Yeah, let's go with that.|
|The way the big guy slaps that command console always kills me.|
As of the time of this writing, Ghost Trick is available in its entirety for 10USD, and I can't decide if that's too much for a mobile game. I honestly don't know how much I've ever spent on a phone game, maybe 6 or 7 way back in the day for the Wolfenstein RPG, and frankly that may have been too much. Then again, I've easily spent over 40USD on all the various drawing programs across all my mobile devices. Of course, there's simply no comparing the value of a productivity app to that of a game, however addicting and fun said game may be.
|Does this count as interest?|
Suspect pricing structure aside, I enjoyed the first two chapters of Ghost Trick, and while I ultimately intend to unlock the full game, it's an odd duck even in the mobile games market and I don't recommend diving in without testing the waters first. Fans of "match three" puzzles and manic tapping may be turned away by the pacing, while fans of deeper experiences like "escape the room" or remastered ports of older games may find the total package somewhat shallow. The last comparison I would make is to Jordan Mechner's The Last Express. It's a technically ambitious work of art whose only real fault is simply not having more of itself to offer. That can leave a lot of gamers grumbling, but I'm of the mindset that if a game ends too soon, it was probably just long enough.
*Ghost Trick was produced by the creator of Phoenix Wright, and once speculated on a crossover game, but the title sadly remains a one-off.