Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies Review: No objections here
Phoenix Wright makes a return to Nintendo's handheld, this time in a whole new dimension, and with all new cases to crack.
Does this entry stay true to the series' quirky nature, or should Phoenix Wright have stayed disbarred?
Crazy cast and crazy story
Ace Attorney games aren't strangers to quirky characters and ridiculous situations, and it's great to know that Dual Destinies doesn't really switch this formula up much. It boasts one of the largest casts to date, featuring Phoenix Wright, Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes. It's also the first time we're seeing Phoenix Wright in action after his slight hiatus in Apollo Justice. However, that's just the main cast. The story is complemented by a slew of secondary characters that range from completely insane to absolutely adorable and everything in between.
Throughout your five cases, you'll go from solving court bombings to murders by Japanese demons. It's odd how Dual Destinies, and the franchise as a whole, manages to keep cases lighthearted in tone while still maintaining a sense of seriousness. The very first case, for example, deals with a court bombing that is pinned to Athena's friend. Throughout that case, you'll be dealing with stuffed animal bombs, bodies pointing to evidence with their own blood and a hilariously named bomb squad member named Ted Tonate. Yep, that's really his name. I won't really go into what happens, but trust me, it manages to be both hilarious and serious in tone.
The court is where the heart is
Ace Attorney games live and breathe through the court proceedings, and the same can be said for Dual Destinies. There is definitely a sense of triumph when you yell "Objection!" and present the right evidence against the opposing council, only to see them scramble in panic as they try to refute your claims.
The court also feels very much alive thanks to the new graphics engine used in Dual Destinies. Every character has fluid movement, which makes their exaggerated movements that much more entertaining to watch. No matter how many times I've seen Phoenix's signature point, it just looks that much better on the 3DS.
Make no mistake, you'll still have to survey crime scenes and look for clues to present in court, but these sequences are nowhere near as exciting as laying the smackdown on snobby lawyers.
New to court proceedings is Athena's special psychoanalytical powers, which she can use to determine a witness' emotional state and how they were feeling while recounting their stories. Finding out that a person was happy or sad during a key moment in their recount could reveal some important information regarding the relationship between the witness and the victim. It's nowhere near as cool as yelling "Take That!", but it does add a new, if slightly unnecessary new mechanic to court proceedings.
Production values on high
Each case is accompanied by gorgeous anime cutscenes that also happen to be fully voiced. While actual gameplay doesn't feature full voiceovers, you'll still get to enjoy hearing "Hold It!" and "Objection!" over and over again.
It's not often where I recommend actually playing with the 3D slider all the way up, but Dual Destinies certainly deserves it. It's one of those games where the 3D isn't in your face, and instead just subtly adds to the atmosphere.
The evidence doesn't always make sense
You know those games where you're trying to solve a puzzle, and when you finally do, you have that "aha!" moment? Suddenly, everything makes sense, and you're thinking "Why didn't I think of that before?" Dual Destinies doesn't have a lot of those. I usually go with the first piece of evidence that makes sense to me, which usually ends up being wrong. After a few more educated guesses, I end up just going through the evidence list until I finally happen upon the right evidence. However, that evidence doesn't always make sense, or isn't at all apparent.
I'll go into slightly spoiler territory here, so if you don't want one of the clues spoiled, don't read this paragraph. One example is when you're supposed to match up bloody writing on the ground to a piece of evidence it's describing. No matter how much I've tried to connect it to various pieces of evidence, literally none of them made sense. It was only after I went through all of them by trial and error, that I found that the bloody writing needed to have a few lines erased, in order for it to match up to the evidence. Definitely not an "aha!" moment.
The challenge is a double edged sword
Even despite some of these crazy evidence connections, the game is still unbelievably forgiving. Once you've exhausted all your tries within a given cross examination, you simply restart at the very same spot.
While it does keep players from having to go through the entire case again, it also takes away from the overall tension, and completely alleviates any fear of simply clicking through evidence until you find the right one.
A familiar experience fans shouldn't hesitate to jump into
Despite being on a new handheld, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is still very much the formulaic lawyer game the series is built upon. Fans of the series will undoubtedly be pleased with the new visuals and some new gameplay tweaks, but if you objected to the games before, it is highly unlikely that Dual Destinies will successfully make its case.