Ghost Trick: The Phantom Detective is a mystery puzzle game from the author of the Ace Attorney series. One dark evening you wake up and realize you are a ghost. Your memory is gone and you have until sunrise to solve your murder. You spend the night exploring a strange city and use your ghost powers to prevent a series of deaths that somehow have something to do with your death.
Ghost Trick was originally exclusive to the Nintendo DS and was one of the best games on the system. Over a decade later, Capcom has finally brought this gem to Switch, PlayStation, Xbox and Steam. If you are experiencing this exciting mystery for the first time, knowing some tips and tricks can help you throughout your journey.
10 The basics of puzzle solving
Ghost Trick is divided into 18 chapters. Each contains a series of puzzles, mostly about preventing someone’s untimely death. These range from accidental deaths to cold-blooded murders. Your goal is to save these people by any means necessary.
You use your supernatural powers to haunt various locations and possess inanimate objects to solve puzzles. You switch between the spirit world, where you can move between objects, and the living world, where you can manipulate what you have. Possession serves many purposes, including distracting the killer, helping the victim get to safety, or even killing the killer. But you’ll have to be quick because some puzzles are timed.
9 How the time limit works
Whenever you find a corpse, your paranormal abilities allow you to travel back in time to the moment before they died. These are the only timed segments. Puzzles that take place in the present are more relaxed and allow exploration without time constraints.
When you turn back time, you have four minutes to prevent the victim from dying. Time runs normally in the living world, but the timer will stop every time you switch to the spirit world, allowing you to take your time and examine the surrounding objects. Each item has a brief description of what it does, but you’ll need to switch back to the living world to try it out.
8 Look for clues in the victim’s final moments
When you go back in time to save someone, you see a short scene showing the moments leading up to their death. During these cutscenes, pay attention and always remember that the game draws your attention to a certain character or object. These can be key clues to help you solve the puzzle.
Your biggest takeaway from these recordings is to learn why the victim died. Didn’t they notice the killer sneaking up on them? Were they in the wrong place at the wrong time? Knowing the reason for their death can be essential to figuring out how to save them. Remember why they died and consider how you can change the circumstances to change the outcome.
7 Investigate the crime scene
The timer can be daunting. It’s always in the corner of the screen and ticking away. But don’t let that stop you from exploring. You may feel like you need to rush, but take some time to experiment with the objects around you. Understanding what each item does is useful for solving puzzles.
You can restart the level at any time and there is no penalty for doing so. The levels are not graded and there is no benefit in getting it right on the first try. Take your time observing the crime scene. You can always reset if needed.
6 Keep the victim alive
Your goal is to keep the victim alive. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop the killer. There are times when you can give the bad guys a taste of their own medicine, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the killer will continue with his plan no matter what you do.
It is important to keep in mind what you can and cannot control about the situation. If you can’t stop the killer, try to find another way to protect the victim. Can you convince the victim to hide? Can you convince them to play dead? Each chapter is different, so killing the killer isn’t always the answer.
5 Try to delay death
Sometimes you can’t prevent someone from dying given the circumstances at the time. If you find yourself stuck, try delaying their death instead. If it’s murder, see if you can distract the killer. If the death is accidental, find ways to delay the danger or temporarily protect the victim.
Every time you change someone’s fate, you get a checkpoint and time will increase. Even the smallest changes can open up new opportunities, so it’s always worth making an effort, even if they seem insignificant. You never know what can cause a butterfly effect to change the outcome in your favor.
4 Pay attention to your radio
Note that you cannot move freely. Part of the puzzle is that you can only move from one object to another, and your spirit can only go so far. This means that certain items will be out of your range. If this is the case, find different routes to get where you need to go.
Use the camera to view the crime scene. Check for moving objects that you can grab. Experiment with different objects to see if you can change the layout of the room and create new paths. You can even lure characters into changing things for you by eliciting certain reactions from them.
3 Don’t let the countdown scare you
When the time is almost up, the timer will fill the screen and start counting down the final seconds. It’s intense and it’s very easy to assume you missed something in the previous stage. But don’t reboot yet. Sometimes the answer to a puzzle is hidden in the last seconds. It’s not over until there’s a body.
Even if you missed something, there is no penalty for lack of time. You can even get important hints if you run out of time. The countdown can be scary, but don’t let it get to you. Sometimes it is worth waiting to see if a new opportunity opens up or if new information comes to light.
2 Eavesdrop whenever you can
It is common to see a character talking to himself or someone else. You don’t have to listen to their conversations, but it never hurts. Eavesdropping can provide useful clues and even open up new avenues.
Part of your spirits is the ability to travel great distances over telephone lines. If you see a sign on the phone, always listen to it. Sometimes the answer isn’t in your current location, so eavesdropping on calls can unlock new places to explore. This can be a lifeline if nothing seems useful in your current area.
1 Use the record
Playing mystery games is all about catching. It’s easy to forget important clues or story moments if it’s been a while since you last played. It’s not always possible to play chapters in sequence, but luckily there is a workaround.
Like the Ace Attorney games, Ghost Trick keeps a record of all the information you’ve gathered so far. It contains everything from the characters you’ve met to the locations you’ve explored. If you’re having a hard time remembering things, a log is available throughout the game and is constantly updated.