Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Review «

playerIDI have a soft spot for the Ace Attorney series. They’re frequently ridiculous but almost always fun games; even when the stories extend a bit too long, they’re still some of the best evolutions of the classic point-and-click adventure genre on a modern handheld. But as much as I enjoy the individual games, they each have their own shortcomings which keep them from being as good as they could be. The latest entry in the series, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, keeps up that trend: It presents an engaging story and better mechanics than previous versions of the game, but it still hits the same small pitfalls.
For the first time in the series, you take on the role of a prosecutor: fan-favorite Miles Edgeworth. And instead of collecting clues to bring out in court and defend your client with, you now have to scour crime scenes to find the real culprit. You still grill suspects by listening to their testimony and pointing out contradictions, but Investigations introduces a new “Logic” mechanic: Edgeworth stores certain facts in his memory that you can later piece together for more insight into what happened.

Click the image above to check out all Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth screens.
Occasionally, these new puzzles make the case more interactive. Piecing together disparate clues from different areas pulls you further into the game’s interactive story. But when you find a key that’s right next to a keyhole, and you have to “Deduce” that putting the key in said keyhole will open the door, it feels a tad silly.

But the story is the reason you play these games. If you don’t like to read, then the Ace Attorney series is not for you, and Investigations is no different. The pacing is as inconsistent as ever: One moment you’ll be racing through action set-pieces and snappy dialogue, and the next you’ll be bogged down by an unnecessary chat with a character who’s not going to say anything you don’t already know. Things are helped immensely by a handy fast forward button — if you’ve heard the dialogue you’re reading already, you can hold down B to skip through at a quicker pace.

But for the first time you read it, the text scrolls by too slowly. In lieu of voice actors, you’ll notice the text crawls by at different speeds — or even stops on specific words momentarily — to give you the effect of a dramatic representation. But this only holds my attention for moments at a time; I read faster than the game displays text, and I’d at least like the option to go at my own pace.

And the game’s plot twists are still too easy to figure out. Sure, you might have figured out who the killer is, and you might even think you have some bullet-proof evidence, but you still have to do things in the game’s prescribed order to get to the end. At least it’s a more streamlined process than previous game: you no longer have to click through a nested menu of static screens, just to discover that you’re looking in the wrong area entirely. Each round of clue-searching is focused on one specific area, and once you’ve found the last piece of evidence, you quickly move on to the next area. It feels directed and less exploratory, but it also feels like you waste a lot less time just trying to figure out where to go.

Well, you waste less time searching for clues anyway. You’ll undoubtedly hit a couple situations where you have to present specific evidence to a character; you know what that evidence should be, and even what the response will be, but the game’s logic dictates that you have to present the exact “right” thing at the “right” time in their testimony. Whether your own deductions are sound or not, it’s less about solving the case and more about figuring out what the developers want you to do. It doesn’t happen often, and, whether you want them or not, you’re almost always given obvious clues about exactly what to do, but it makes the game seesaw between too easy and predictable, and illogically random.

Click the image above to check out all Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth screens.
Investigation’s story starts slow, and unlike Apollo Justice, you don’t get the immediate draw of something like, “discovering what happened to Phoenix Wright.” Instead, you get a little more back story on Edgeworth, and a plot that only gets exciting after you’ve put in several hours. And you’ll put in a lot of hours. Since the text scrolls at a fixed pace, and the story revolves around scouring each crime scene for clues, you can expect to spend 15-20 hours with Edgeworth and company. It drags at times, and a more streamlined story, or at least a series of shorter cases, would have made the game stronger overall.

If you’ve played (and enjoyed) the other Ace Attorney games, then you should be unabashedly enthusiastic about this latest entry in the series. And for me, it’s my favorite since the first game (I don’t completely agree with our review of Apollo Justice; while it was a good game, I would’ve given it a B overall). The mechanics may not seem as new, and you’re always several steps ahead of the story, but the eccentric cast of characters in Ace Attorney is always fun to meet again.


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