Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Review: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is something of a haunting experience.

Okay, fine, I’ll stop the ghost puns right there. I wouldn’t want anyone to accuse me of being unable to give up the ghost!

But that’s an apt description for Shu Takumi’s 2011 game Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.

At the time, Takumi was almost hunted by the success of the Ace Attorney franchise to which he had given his life.

But by all accounts, his sense of self was struggling.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is the perfect apparition of that in game form.

Ghost Trick — Gone But Not Forgotten

As I said in my previewGhost Trick: Phantom Detective is a story to experience without knowing what you are getting yourself into.

It tells the story of Sissel — who finds himself shot dead in a junkyard alleyway.

When it seems he will die without recollection of who he is, a table lamp illuminates him to the powers he has known as “Ghost Tricks.”


He also dangles something of a forbidden fruit in front of dear Sissel. At the same time, his powers can’t bring him back to life, but he can travel through phone lines and endlessly observe the final four minutes before a person’s death, reviving them and helping them change their fate until the time reaches the same time he died the following day.

Sissel recognizes an opportunity to use these powers to learn about himself and his fate. But as his last day moves on, the story evolves to be more about who we are to others and how the things we do in life will live on after we die.


It can be a quirky, seemingly random and abstract story. But when you consider it came at a time when Takumi was burned out by his success and wondering if there was something else he could be doing, this heart-warming story of friendship and legacy makes much more sense.

The Power Is In The Puzzle

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is ultimately a timed puzzle game with a handful of untimed sections where you must solve puzzles.

The cast of loveably silly characters fit right into any other Takumi game. Still, instead of being framed for murder like in the case of Ace Attorney, they find themselves tied to a murder.


It’s up to Sissel to save that person from death by solving a puzzle using his ability to possess and operate inanimate objects.

As is customary for Takumi, these puzzles are nonsensical and humorous. Some of them can be challenging, requiring you to master timing and multiple possessions in a short amount of time.

While having a time limit can feel very nerve-wracking, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective embraces the fact it’s a video game by letting you come back and try over as much as you like.


A checkpoint progression system lets you restart at the very beginning of a puzzle or the midway point once you’ve gotten there.

This Ghost Isn’t Black And White

Thanks to Capcom, I was playing this remake on a Nintendo Switch OLED, which is 100% how I suggest you play it.

There’s no denying that the new high-res art looks fantastic on a system meant for 1-1 colour and brightness.

Characters and environments have a comic book-like vibrancy meant to take on a sort of weekly crime periodical feel.


While it’s fantastic that the original game ran at 60 FPS on the Nintendo DS, everything here has been smoothed out to make it feel alive on more modern hardware.

Characters can now move, shoot and bang on walls with wine bottles in less fluid ways than in 2011.

The new HD models make defining character features like wraparound sunglasses, big yellow bows and silver eyeglasses more apparent on models.

And the new 37-song soundtrack from original composer Yasumasa Kitagawa offers more depth and compliments to what happens in-game in a way the smaller DS game cartridge just couldn’t fit or reproduce.


Regarding what’s new, it’s harder to recommend this remake to people who have already solved the game once before. There’s also a new behind-the-scenes art gallery and the inclusion of the mobile phone port’s “Challenges” mode, which feels incredibly welcome on the Switch, where there still is no achievement system. But it’s not a whole lot to bring players back.

Problems Persist

I encountered a few problems with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective‘s performance on Nintendo Switch.

The top one I experienced was loading times between chapters, especially in menus.

The “Phone Book” is where you find critical contextual details on characters and their story beats. And I often faced 20- to 30-second wait times to transition from puzzle to Phone Book entry.

My other big issue is one I raised in my review, and that’s the view.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective was a game optimized for a dual-screen layout with puzzles at the top and options like restart or Ghost Trick mode below.

It made for a seamless play model that complimented that many of these puzzles are on a time limit.

I played my preview on PlayStation 5, while my review was on Nintendo Switch OLED. And I have to say that there was a lot of improvement in playing on the Switch OLED because having touchscreen inputs made menus much simpler to navigate.


On both systems, the D-Pad lets you scrub the camera moves back and forth, which is excellent, but you will do much of it. I would have loved to see some touch integration with the Dual Sense controller’s touchpad or the Switch’s touchscreen so that you can save time while navigating puzzles.



I will stick pretty close to my preview here and say that Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is hard to recommend if it’s an experience you’ve already been through.

Aside from some wonky loading times, the new additions are at home on the Nintendo Switch OLED. But unless you wish to play through the experience again in a more fluid, HD manner, there’s not enough distinction for picking this up aside from on sale.

This game is one that I firmly believe everyone needs to have a sight of. And it flew under the radar back in 2011 as part of a games catalogue that was extensive and often incredible on the Nintendo DS. So it’s great to see it in storefronts again.


[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: Switch

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective deserves to haunt storefronts 12 years after its initial release. It is a haunting experience you will want to have at least once. But is there enough here to keep you coming back?
a one-of-a-kind experience that is quirky and loveable. Asking what makes us who we are?
Challeges and new music add more depth
New HD art is fluid and alive on Nintendo Switch OLED
Didn't Like
Load times are wonky