Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies - Review

So here we are, brought back to a world where you are guilty until proven innocent. A place where defence attorneys do 99% of the police work and the clients don’t want any help avoiding a life-sentence.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The first thing you will notice about the new Phoenix Wright game is how graciously the franchise has transitioned into 3D. Unlike the most recent Professor Layton, Dual Destines has vastly improved the game’s visuals without sacrificing the style of past games. Capcom has even gone the extra mile by adding anime cut-scenes and voice acting (both firsts for the series.)

The game opens with Phoenix Wright getting his badge back and proclaiming he will put an end to the “dark age of the law.” Finally. After all these years, an opportunity to play as Phoenix again … for about a minute.

Or at least it feels that way, because most of the game you’re playing as Apollo (again), or this game’s newcomer: Athena. I like Athena, in fact all the characters in the game are great…

Unfortunately, Athena and Apollo are pretty much interchangeable characters. Yeah they’re the ‘good guys’ and they say funny stuff sometimes, but mostly they’re just cardboard. Because this is an Ace Attorney game everyone needs a super power: Athena’s is psychology. She dives into the psyche of others by using her trusty ‘widget’ to playback her witness emotions at the actual time they committed/witnessed a crime. Since we now solve murders with feelings, I was really bad at these sections of the game — are you not supposed to feel joy while stabbing someone in the face?

The game finds one thing that makes a character *jazz hands* quirky and plays that aspect of their character to death. Honestly, it just gets a bit exhausting. The game’s new detective is named Fulbright (who’s not-too-bright ahuehuehue), and his catch-phrase is “In Justice we trust!” Which he insists on repeating every two sentences. It’s a signature of the Ace Attorney games to have over-the-top characters, but Dual Destinies has swapped out a beating  heart for a catch-phrase.

The game takes itself way too seriously. Other Ace Attorney games were successful by balancing when it was time to be funny and when it was time to solve a damn murder. Dual Destinies’ prosecutor is brooding the entire time and Apollo goes through an emo phase; there are plenty of moments where the game tries to be edgy, but ends up losing its sharpness (lol.) It may be the most ‘graphic’ Phoenix Wright, but it’s writing is the most juvenile. It’s a game that’s chosen to swap out its cleverness with angst — I’ll take ‘grape-juice’ spilled over blood splattered any day.

Ace Attorney is still one of my favourites series. I’m looking forward to the next trial; don’t count this review as bitterness so much as disappointment. The last case was amazing but I’m not sure dragging yourself through the whole game is worth the pay-off. I would trade the improved visual for a game with more heart. The series can be better; I know it’s possible because the franchise has proven itself again and again in the past.

Review Notes:

  • I’m still confused why this is download only; surely if there was a fan base that would want a physical collection it’s this one. You don’t download Phoenix Wright six on a whim.
  • In all the other Ace Attorney games your sidekick was a different profession, this time ‘round it’s all defence attorneys
  • This game suffers from a serious ‘Guy in the yellow bikini’ thing — which was also a problem in L.A. Noire.
  • Are they saving Phoenix and Edgeworth for something? They have these characters and don’t want to use them for some reason.
  • Sure would be nice to get a North America date for Professor Layton Vs. Phoenix Wright.
  • Even the backgrounds are more detailed with a handful of subtle animations.
  • I use the mic any, and every, time I can.
  • The got a sleeping rhinoceros for Edgeworth’s voice actor.