Playing Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies has shown me just how much I’d missed this series. Sure, I’d played Ace Attorney Investigations earlier this year but that game is a pale shadow of the real thing. It’s mostly a different beast altogether. It has been a long time since the last real Ace Attorney game. It is really good to have the series back. I hope there is more after this.
Dual Destinies has all the Ace Attorney stuff one would expect, diabolical criminals and crazy weird witnesses and an even more crazy weird legal system. There are five cases of increasing difficulty and complexity and this time you jump between three different lawyers. Apollo Justice is back, and thankfully so is Phoenix. New to this game is Athena Cykes, who can detect emotions and use that to get more out of testimony. The only thing it is lacking is a good sidekick, since the other lawyers tend to play that role. It works, but I liked Trucy and Maya.
The return of Phoenix to the courtroom is a big deal for me. I liked the last game; I liked Apollo and Trucy. However, I was never comfortable with how the game treated Phoenix. They broke him down as a part of someone else’s story instead of his own. Here, Phoenix is still not the main character. He takes a back seat to both Athena and Apollo. But he is allowed to play the thoughtful mentor and go about his own business when they are out on cases. The next game could easily use any of the three lawyers as its main character should they choose. Phoenix doesn’t need to be broke down so Apollo or Athena can rise up.
I don’t want to spoil the game, so I’ll just say that I liked all the cases and I liked that they fixed some problems. The biggest change is adding a to do list to the investigation portions, so you will always know where you need to go to advance the story. And the stories are largely good. If anything they are all too personal. All the cases have a personal tie for at least one of Wright Anything Agency team.
The only real downside is Athena. She gets better as the game goes along, but I didn’t initially like her as much as Phoenix or Apollo. A big part of that was how bad a lot of her dialogue is when pressing witnesses. She reacts like a sidekick, often arguing on tangents instead of sticking to the case. I know the other lawyers did that too, but I found Athena to be worse. She seemed to forget what she was doing. I also wasn’t too big a fan of Prosecutor Simon. There’s just not a lot to his character. I hope the next game a truly great adversary, on the level of Edgeworth or Godot. Also, I would be remiss to not mention that there are tons of spelling and grammatical errors. This is a big problem in a game that is 80% dialogue.
The biggest actual improvement in the game are the graphics. The new 3D models turned out fantastic and they animate really well. I was concerned because I didn’t think Professor Layton’s conversion to 3D worked out at all. The art for that game did not translate to 3D well at all. However, here it worked out perfectly. Things look just as crisp, but now there is a wider range of motion. They characters are even more expressive. The graphics are very good.
Dual Destinies is still largely the same game the rest of the series. It is a visual novel with some trappings of an adventure game. It lives or dies on the writing. Fortunately, typos aside, the writing is really good. The new characters aren’t the best, but that is made up for by not including a lot of the tired gang from the first three games. Still, I’d to have a Gumshoe or especially Maya appearance, but I’m glad they stuck with a mostly new crew. I don’t see this game changing the minds of anyone who didn’t like the series already, but it is a treat for fans and likely to draw some new fans. It is the best thing Capcom has done is some time.