Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Review – Revitalizing the Ace Attorney Legacy
The Ace Attorney series has been a trailblazer in the realm of courtroom drama visual novels, created by the esteemed Shu Takumi, also known for his work on games like Ghost Trick. The significance of Ace Attorney in shaping the visual novel genre is profound, inspiring many other titles, including those like the Danganronpa series, which have carved out their own unique identities.
Originally designed for handheld devices, the series did not transition to consoles, except for its adaptation to mobile platforms. It was only recently that Capcom decided to introduce the rich collection of classic Ace Attorney games to contemporary platforms. This includes the original Ace Attorney trilogy, its prequel set years earlier, and now the Apollo Justice Trilogy. The release of this trilogy is particularly noteworthy as it makes the entire Ace Attorney series accessible on modern platforms, including PCs.
While the character Phoenix Wright had a complete trilogy to establish his narrative, there was a growing sense among fans of a repetitive nature in the storytelling. Recognizing this, Capcom shifted direction with The Great Ace Attorney, a new series that aimed for a different tone and achieved success in doing so. Apollo Justice marks a return to the series’ origins but in the form of a new trilogy. It introduces new characters while also bringing back familiar ones, reinvigorating the series with fresh narratives and perspectives.
The first game in the Apollo Justice series effectively establishes the character of Apollo Justice, a budding detective who finds himself embroiled in a peculiar case involving Phoenix Wright, the attorney he looks up to. This initial case sets a compelling tone for the trilogy. The game maintains the series’ signature humor and keeps the pace lively throughout. The courtroom drama in Apollo Justice brings a sense of nostalgia, reminiscent of the early days of the original Ace Attorney series. The game’s strength lies in its writing, which I found to be particularly robust in this installment.
Apollo, a novice defense attorney, begins his career with a case that not only implicates his employer but also involves Phoenix Wright. This makes the first game in the Apollo Justice series engaging to the point where it’s hard to put down. One notable aspect of these newer games is their approachability; they often provide ample hints and opportunities to deduce solutions. While the writing is clever and the game presents multiple potential answers to each inquiry, the solutions to cases typically follow a linear path.
Having Phoenix Wright reappear in the series was a delight. Although the first game focuses on Apollo, Phoenix Wright returns in the subsequent games of the trilogy. Players need to have experienced the original Ace Attorney trilogy before delving into this new one. The trilogy is rich with references, cameos, and callbacks to past events that might be missed by those unfamiliar with the earlier games. This interconnected storytelling enhances the overall experience for fans who have followed the series from its beginnings.
The gameplay in the Apollo Justice Trilogy remains exceptional, particularly for those who enjoy murder mysteries, detective work, and courtroom dynamics. If unraveling investigative puzzles, questioning witnesses, presenting evidence, and spotting contradictions appeal to you, this game series is an ideal choice. While the Danganronpa series presents a broader mystery within its world, the Apollo Justice Trilogy is more anchored in reality, interspersed with truly outlandish moments. The games skillfully and humorously employ satire.
However, these games may not suit everyone, especially those who are not fond of visual novels. The trilogy heavily emphasizes interactive storytelling with extensive dialogue. Each case involves listening to witness testimonies, identifying inconsistencies with the evidence, and endeavoring to uncover the truth. Beyond the courtroom drama, the games allow players to explore various locations, adding a layer of investigative gameplay. Players engage in tasks like dusting for fingerprints or checking for shoe tracks, and each location offers opportunities to gather clues and extract information from NPCs.
Each of the three games in the trilogy offers a distinct gameplay experience, introducing unique mechanics that keep the gameplay engaging. For instance, in the first game, Apollo can detect lies based on NPCs’ behaviors during testimonies. Subsequent games introduce new twists and characters, such as Athena, who can read the emotions of NPCs. The cases in the game are not only accessible for first-time playthroughs but are also enjoyable to replay. They are divided into episodes, with each episode comprising multiple parts, allowing for a structured yet immersive gaming experience.
The new trilogy bundle of the Apollo Justice series includes a valuable addition: the ability to play through bonus episodes that were originally released as downloadable content (DLC). The length of these episodes varies, typically ranging from 2 to 4 hours of gameplay. Your experience in piecing together clues and solving cases can affect playtime; if you’re adept at deciphering information quickly, you might complete the games more rapidly. However, I recommend taking your time to fully immerse yourself in the experience. This means exploring every location thoroughly, interacting with various elements, and observing the reactions of characters, which can be quite entertaining.
The trilogy also introduces several quality-of-life features and extras that are sure to please fans. One notable feature is the Story Mode, which essentially plays the game for you. It allows you to enjoy the narrative without the need to solve puzzles or make decisions. This mode is particularly useful if you’re stuck and want to progress in the story. From my personal experience, I found that the statements in the courtroom segments weren’t overly challenging when it came to presenting evidence. The game is forgiving, offering numerous chances to correct mistakes, and the combination of auto and manual save functions ensures that you never feel unfairly trapped in a difficult situation.
I had the opportunity to play the entire game on the Steam Deck and can confirm that it performs exceptionally well on Valve’s handheld console. The PC version is also excellent. While the frame rate is capped at 30 FPS, this is not a significant issue given the game’s nature. As a mostly point-and-click adventure with limited fast-paced action, the frame rate cap doesn’t detract from the gameplay experience. One improvement I would have liked is a fast-forward button. While the game allows you to skip text quickly, a feature to fast-forward through repetitive dialogue during scene investigations would have been a welcome addition.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Game Information
- Price: $49.99
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Platform: PC (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher