Subsisting on fan translations no longer, the Great Ace Attorney Chronicles bundles the duology into one complete package for the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PC via Steam for people to officially obtain from 28 July 2021 onwards. Let’s not beat about the bush too much and get right into it.
As mentioned, the Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is two games in one, and you can switch freely between them from the main menu selection. As primarily a visual novel, the options are quite limited. You can turn off the series’ trademark screen flashes and / or controller vibrations if you happen to find them uncomfortable. You can also set the length of time the text remains on screen when Autoplay is turned on.
The game has both English and Japanese dub, which you could consider mostly irrelevant, but the options are there. With regards to the text speed, I have a complaint that there’s no option to have the text instantly appear. However, I understand that the text scroll speed is how the series gives more effect to how a character “talks”, and I’ve experienced this from the earlier games as well. It is simply my preference to have faster appearing text.
From the main menu, you can set costumes for some characters, which they warn will only apply to the second game, Resolve. Additional content includes the accolades, escapade stories, soundtrack and such. If you’re starting fresh, DO NOT access the Special Content until you’re done. At a glance, the descriptions and images can already be massive spoilers.
I definitely enjoy the game’s overall look; it’s got that “old time” feel as befitting its setting in a historical era. The 3D models are suitably expressive and provide more room for details be it for aesthetics or investigative purposes. One nice touch is that the main menu’s background changes on a case by case basis, or Episodes, as they’re called here.
There’s no way I’m going to be spoiling the story here, much less one leaning on mystery, court drama and the lot. The names are not the localized “Wright”s or “Edgeworth”s from earlier in the series, as we’re firmly in Japan, navigating a new era post signing a treaty with Great Britain. I have no major complaints regarding the localization. I do want to point out the use of honorifics, though. The Japanese characters will typically be referring to each other by Japanese honorifics – -san, -sama, the like – and will also use “Miss”, “Mr” with each other. I notice that the former usually happens when they’re not in the company of others, which makes sense; after all, most other characters are unlikely to understand. This can come off as inconsistent when referring to the History log, an unfortunate side effect.
Besides that, Episodes follow the typical formula as set by the earlier games: start from the central plot for the chapter, investigate, and uncover the mystery. I will confess Episode 2 of the first game is especially notable for me, as it brought out incredibly strong feelings. On one hand, I see this as good writing, as I am rightfully invested in the unfolding story. On the other, there’s a bitter taste of dissatisfaction in how it was done. It’s my opinion, so I will leave it to you to decide for yourself.
As a whole, I enjoyed the historical setting. From the get go, the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty hangs over the characters. It’s a thing that is so much bigger than them, but its pressure is nonetheless there. The era is clear in many aspects: from historical tidbits to the more “primitive” investigative methods you use. Apart from the mysteries themselves, I feel that it should get you more interested in history too.
Once again, the other characters have the typical weird or punny names, with villainous breakdowns being a sight to behold. The Great Ace Attorney may be on the more serious scale considering the variety of historical references, it nonetheless retains that wacky flavour. Besides, legally distinct Herlock Sholmes is in the cast, bless his soul.
The core of the game is also essentially unchanged from the previous entries of the series. As you progress through the story, you’ll have to connect the dots and present evidence as necessary. Leave no stone unturned, and prod at every thing, including witnesses! Once more, a few wrinkles are added to the games. Ryunosuke prides himself on his observational prowess, so on occasion, you just might need to press just hard enough to get the turnabout opportunity. You could reasonably assume you won’t need to use these abilities until you’re actually prompted, which means you “just” need to get to that point.
There’s also Sholmes, prancing in with his Logic and Reasoning Spectacular with which he presents his Great Deductions. It really is a Deduction Dance, as you watch him flit back and forth the scene. His reasoning is not all perfect, which is where you come in, prompting a Course Correction. At this point, you’ll need to move that camera around and adjust the deductions by presenting the right answer.
If you don’t feel like it and want to enjoy the game as purely a visual novel, you can turn on Story Mode and watch the text scroll by. The game will inform you that certain accolades are unobtainable this way.
I’ve always enjoyed the Ace Attorney series, and it’s no different here. Those familiar with the fan translations may have different feelings regarding the localization, which I’ve personally never seen myself.
Now, the only game I’ve not experienced at this point is Spirit of Justice. Maybe it’s because it’s been a long time since I’ve played any of the other games, but by god, is Great Ace Attorney slow as molasses or what? Naturally I started from the first game, and the pacing is absolutely horrendous in the beginning. I don’t know how much of it is the original script’s fault, but there were multiple points where I felt the localization was littered with redundancy. I can’t completely diss these chapters, as you need that world building and all that set up. It simply takes so long to get there.
Regardless of its flaws, Great Ace Attorney is still a great experience, with strong characters and setting. If you’re completely unfamiliar with the series, I would say the duology is an alright one to start with. Here’s to wondering if there’ll be more mainline games coming in the future.
Review copy provided by Capcom. Played on PS4.
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The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Will probably still refer to it as Dai Gyakuten Saiban.
- Strong characters and stories that don't rely on knowledge of previous games
- Interesting historical context and knowledge
- Officially available in English!
- Glacial early story building
- Doesn't necessarily shake up the standard series formula
The sword and the law maketh a man's soul
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