- Developer: CAPCOM
- Publisher: CAPCOM
- Release Date: 27/07/2021
- Price: £32.99 / $39.99
- Review code provided by CAPCOM
Introducing: The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles Review
I’ve been a huge fan of Ace Attorney since the very first game, back on the DS, and have played every instalment I could get my hands on (including the Investigations spin-off) so it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I’m familiar with the series’ unique charm. With the remakes of the original trilogy having been released last year, I really hope the series can pick up a whole new generation of fans. If you haven’t played the original trilogy, I highly recommend picking up the Ace Attorney Turnabout Collection (£49.99/$59.99) and delving into some lawyer-y goodness. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a remake of two games – The Great Ace Attorney Adventures and The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve – that were never released in the West, so this is the first time we English-speakers will be able to dive into these particular cases.
For now, sit back, relax, and put your investigative hats on, because the game is afoot!
Into The Great Unknown
Our protagonist, and titular Ace Attorney for this adventure, is Ryunosuke Naruhodo, ancestor to the beloved Phoenix Wright. Along with his judicial assistant and master of the smile-stick Susato Mikotoba, he is tasked with learning the British judicial system as part of a special study tour. Don’t expect to be spending hours in a classroom though – things go wrong even before you get on the boat, and don’t hold your breath for them getting better!
Victorian Britain isn’t kind to our Japanese visitors, so expect some time-period-appropriate racism to be interwoven among your many interactions! One exception is the ever-popular Herlock Sholmes, detective extraordinaire and comedic relief among the negativity that permeates the London fog. And of course, let’s not forget the face at the opposite bench – Lord Van Zieks, Reaper of the Bailey, a thoroughly polite yet condescending man with something of a love for vintage wines.
I loved the depictions of the many characters I encountered. They always have incredibly unique designs, and personalities to match, making the often dour circumstances of a case more bearable. Not to mention the wordplay hidden among quite a few names – I found it fun trying to find the hidden meanings in every name I could. With a total of 10 cases, each with multiple parts, there’s plenty of story to sink your teeth into. It is possible to rush through The Great Ace Attorney, but I wouldn’t recommend it: this game is definitely best absorbed over several sittings.
Shake Off The Brain Fog
In keeping with the previous games, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles has both Investigation and Courtroom segments and brings in the welcome addition of Deduction sessions. These come with their own internal set of mechanics and add a lovely breath of fresh air to the reliable staples of the series, along with a few tweaks to the existing systems.
The Courtroom is the first set of mechanics you’ll encounter, but don’t worry – the trusty Kazuma will walk you through this introductory case. Within the courtroom, you’ll encounter the traditional testimonies and evidence, and a very amusing new type of interaction: summation examinations. Press and Present are your best friends during testimonies – the perfect way to get further details or contradict a statement. Also available is the occasion to question multiple witnesses at once, which is something entirely new in the series. I loved how this was implemented, as it just added a little extra depth to the system if not realism.
Investigations take place out in the big, wide world, and all the trappings that come with it. Sliding that magnifying glass around everything from a boat to a restaurant, the controls feel lovely, smooth, and perfectly suited to controller-based play. Granted, examining evidence sometimes gets a bit finicky, especially since some sections are very specific regarding angles, but overall it feels pretty nice. I also liked that characters can be interacted with within the environment, rather than only the primary character in a scene – for example, Herlock might be the primary character to speak to within his rooms, but Iris could be stood by the fireplace so you can also hold a conversation with her. It reduced the amount of back-and-forth that I noted in previous games, which is a nice QoL improvement.
A Slam-Dunk Case
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles has stuck to the tried-and-tested art style of previous Ace Attorney games, and why not? It works so well, and the small addition of semi-animated sprites has given it that necessary facelift for an extra injection of fun. The almost comic style of gameplay pairs nicely with the anime cutscenes, with an overarching vibrancy even in doom-and-gloom scenarios that keeps the tone light and enjoyable.
From the first note of the opening sequence, I was grinning with nostalgia. Much like the graphics, the sound design hasn’t changed much over the years, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The iconic boop-de-doop of text and oddly catchy soundtracks have been a staple of the series for years, and still bring that sense of levity that is the core of each game.
I’ve never had a performance issue with any Ace Attorney game, and The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is no exception. I’m not sure if it’s because Capcom seems to do very well when it comes to working with the Switch’s hardware, or because the games have always been as resource-light as they could without losing quality, but it works. Loading times are nice and short, and everything moves butter-smooth, which is a real boon considering how many hours you can put into a case!
Call me what you will, but I love it when a puzzle game leaves me feeling like an idiot. I have had issues in the past with Ace Attorney games having slightly muddy logic, and occasionally resorted to just trying every option, and was concerned that The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles might follow that trend. I’m delighted to admit that when the logic didn’t make sense, it was because of my own errors in thinking. I encountered a situation in the very first case of the game where I felt like banging my head against a brick wall, but after a cup of tea and a good re-examination of the evidence I realised that I was the one with the messy logic, and it was a breath of fresh air. I have to think so much harder in Ryunosuke’s cases than in his descendant’s, and that increased my enjoyment tenfold.
An Ace Adventure
Nostalgia may be colouring my opinion a little, but in my humble opinion, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles has to be one of the best games released on the Switch. The game looks beautiful, the soundtrack is perky, the cases are so well put-together and stimulating, and the characters – oh the characters! With hours upon hours of content, this is the perfect title to curl up and enjoy over a number of weeks.
If this is the quality that we can expect from future Ace Attorney titles, and indeed Capcom games in general, then they’re rapidly on their way to being my favourite developer of Switch games. Whether a veteran of the series or a complete newbie, I can’t recommend The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles enough for any fan of visual novels and mystery games.
- Uplifting art style
- Classically humourous cases
- Highly improved logic system
- So. Many. Hours!
- Rushing will definitely ruin the experience somewhat
- Made me desperate for more Ace Attorney games!