In a land far, far away where attorneys are all but a myth and prosecutors reign free. Where those who proclaim innocence are silenced by the legal system. There exists one man who will stand in the way. A man out for justice, not for one, but for all. And his name is… Phoenix Wright.
While my opening paragraph may be cheesy to read, it is fairly accurate. Like every Ace Attorney game you start off with a tutorial trial that gives a better understanding and taste of what the rest of the game will be like. The first major thing I noticed was you begin in a foreign country, called Khura’in, defending a young monk accused of murder and theft. This would seem like any of the previous games but Khura’in considers defence attorneys to be evil beings that will twist words and corrupt people and thus dissuades lawyers with the Defense Culpability Act. The Defense Culpability Act is the very reason that lawyers have become almost extinct and opened the path for Divination Seances to be considered the absolute truth. The Divination Seance allows for the final moments of the recently departed to be viewed from the point of view of the victim. There is no audio involved with the seance but anything the victim is hearing, feeling, smelling, or tasting will be displayed as words and the events seen are interpreted by a royal priestess. I found it to be similar to watching films from the silent movie era where you see things happen and words appear to let you know what is going on.
While the first case is more or less a tutorial in every Ace Attorney game, I was rather let down by the introduction of the Divination Seance. I did not feel it was a new addition but rather recycling an old mechanic from a couple of the previous games where you would have videos presented as evidence that required you to interpret or find discrepancies with. Actually in the second case you spend most of your time looking at a recording without the need of a priestess and Divination Seance. The Divination Seance does allow for some interesting moments though such as the need for a clearer image meaning the priestess will need to do some extra work here and there. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t give much guidance in the middle of a Divination Seance. I found this out after I had trouble with one in particular and decided to save and come back the next day only to find myself lost and not sure what I was trying to point out in the first place.
Fans of the previous Ace Attorney games will find the naming humor has heavily returned in Spirit of Justice. I spent a good amount of time looking at names of locations and people and came to the conclusion that the localization team had a lot of fun this time. The first new person you meet is Ahlbi Ur’gaid which is easily understood as “I’ll be your guide” and matches what that character is supposed to do for Phoenix. I was easily amused by Tehm’pul Temple because of the idea of calling it by what it is. These are just a couple of the earliest names I encountered but as I progressed further I found more names that just brought a goofy grin to my face for how honest the puns were.
As the people of Khura’in have a strong hatred towards lawyers, you can expect Phoenix to be constantly booed by the audience in the courtroom. The negativity is so bad that people are chanting for Phoenix to be given death.Of course they are quick to change their minds once the truth is revealed but ready to start a riot against any of the protagonists once the next case begins. While having the audience in the courtroom being against Phoenix isn’t new it does get really repetitive this time around. I was seriously annoyed by the constant belittling from the audience and even more so by the prosecution and judge.
I really dislike how little work the prosecutors seem to have to actually do in Spirit of Justice. It seemed like they just show up and say “I believe this person is guilty” and then suddenly their job is done. In the second case the new prosecutor, Nahyuta Sahdmadhi, arrives and you are led to believe he glances at the crime scene and claims to sense a malicious intent from the accused therefore that person becomes the guilty party and no one can change his mind about it. At least in the original games Miles Edgeworth would do thorough examinations of crime scenes and present actual evidence in court. I just felt that Nahyuta’s whole point was to say the accused is guilty and then follow it up with bad mouthing the defense while the judge let it happen.
I believe this to be a good addition to the Ace Attorney series that fans of the series will enjoy but for someone who has never played a game in this series they will probably not get the same level of enjoyment from Spirit of Justice. I really like the idea of sending Phoenix into a foreign environment that frowns on his profession. While I did feel the introduction of Divination Seance is underwhelming, it could be improved. The characters are great as always whether they’re new or returning. If you like visual novels and have not tried the Ace Attorney series I would highly suggest getting Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Trilogy on 3DS or iOS first. For long time fans of the Ace Attorney series I would suggest getting Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice and letting Capcom know how much you love the series.
Review copy of the game provided by Capcom.
Total Play Time: Around 20 hours (unless you’re Shelby then it took 8 hours)