Visions of the Dead: Hands-on with Ace Attorney 6

If I'm completely honest about it, elements of Ace Attorney 6 have me a little worried. I'm a big fan of the series, but I've always found it to brilliantly toe the line between semi-realistic (if over-the-top) court action and the supernatural with elements like possessions, spirit mediums, and crazy mind-reading technology.

Ace Attorney 6 is set to double down on some of the supernatural elements - and that does leave me just a little uneasy. Desperate to see how that works out, I made a point to make it one of the first games I checked out at Tokyo Game Show.

The case I got to go hands-on with at this year's TGS offered what appears to be a reasonable vertical slice of what to expect from the game, with Phoenix Wright taking to the courts in a traditional oriental country known as Kurain. As far as I could tell, this country didn't seem to be immediately and obviously connected to the 'Kurain' heritage from which the Fey family hails despite the similar name - but there are obvious thematic similarities.

Lefia is the latest difficult overconfident type in Wright's way.

In the TGS demo, Phoenix's vacation tour guide ends up accused of stealing from and then murdering an old man. His guide is only a kid, and Phoenix does what he always does, stepping up to defend him in court, fully believing in his innocence. 

The supernatural side of Kurain is represented in court with a new mechanic that's presumably designed to be this game's new deduction mechanic, much like Phoenix's Psyche Lock or Athena's Mood Matrix in the past.

In Kurain's courts, a spirit medium allows the court to see through the eyes of the victim in their final moments - thus, hopefully, revealing the murderer. The vision from the victim in this case clearly shows the defendant up to something suspicious, so Phoenix has his work cut out for him.

Fighting this is done the same as any other piece of evidence in Ace Attorney - and by watching back the footage repeatedly and looking for discrepancies that your evidence can disprove, you can eventually turn things around, as the series is known-for. By having a key piece of evidence be a moving visual that you can rewatch, there's an additional layer of concentration needed than what one needs when merely testing static evidence files - and I like that.

The spirit visions from beyond the grave are conjured up by Leifa, Princess of Kurain and seemingly Phoenix's main rival, at least for this case. While the Prosecuting Attorney in the TGS demo case is yet another facsimile of the ever-unlucky Winston Payne, Phoenix's real adversary is Leifa, who becomes increasingly frustrated and irritated as her spirit visions are picked apart.

The vision of the victim's last moments doesn't paint the defendant in a pretty light.

The gameplay on offer is as fun and as trademark Ace Attorney as ever, though it's already easy to see that with the spirit medium stuff as a core mechanic the game will have an even tighter rope to walk between the supernatural and the silly-but-believable in order to stop its narrative from unraveling. 

The game feels a minor visual improvement on Ace Attorney 5, but is clearly using the same basic technology under the hood. This is a new story with a more supernatural twist - and seems fairly unlikely to reinvent the wheel.

What also remains unclear is how much this title will connect to previous ones - the likes of Maya, Gumshoe, Ema, Athena and Apollo are nowhere to be found in the TGS demo, and I like many fans am curious to see how story threads left hanging at the end of Dual Destinies are picked up here.

Mercifully, we already know it's coming West some time in 2016 (Thanks Capcom!) as a 3DS exclusive. I look forward to learning more.

Enjoyed this article? Share it!