Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Adam Riley 09.10.2016 2

Review for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice on Nintendo 3DS

It has been a long road for the Ace Attorney series, dating back to when it was a stuck-in-Japan set of games on the Game Boy Advance through to the success of 2013's Nintendo 3DS eShop-only release, Dual Destinies. Now Capcom is back with a brand new iteration in the form of Spirit of Justice (previewed initially here), which comes complete with a new core element that comes into play during trials. How well does this sixth mainline story compare to its forebears? Time to deliver the final verdict…

Capcom has been carefully streamlining the Ace Attorney series over the years to make sure it is more accessible for newcomers than ever before, whilst also ensuring that the balance is not knocked off kilter, deterring the return of long-term fans. Spirit of Justice carries on where Dual Destinies left off, almost making it like an Ace Attorney: Best Of by bringing together all of the previous characters, whilst also giving more attention to developing their personalities, especially the youngest lawyer in the Wright Anything Agency, Athena Cykes, who is given her own case to deal with at one point, along with a bit of support from another up-and-coming persona, an emo-looking prosecutor named Simon Blackquill. Athena uses a special technique during cases to spot changes in people's emotional state, giving them a therapy session of sorts to pinpoint inaccuracies in how they feel during the recounting of the events leading up to the crime in question for that particular case. She is indeed developed more here than ever before, but is not quite headline material just yet. That honour goes to Phoenix Wright…or does it?

Despite the adventure kicking off with Phoenix Wright visiting his former partner-in-court, Maya Fey, in a foreign land, and introducing a new courtroom approach of analysing Séances and Insights to watch the final throes of the deceased in order to find the true culprit, the focus is actually primarily on Apollo Justice throughout, to the point where this really feels like a direct sequel to the fourth in the series, named after the bold and brash rookie attorney himself. However, as the five cases pan out, the development team again expertly juggles all the elements to keep it from slewing too far in one character's direction, whilst also being able to add more depth and open up plot avenues that will clearly be explored in future titles.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice on Nintendo 3DS

So intense are some of the storylines, especially revolving around Apollo and the goings-on surrounding his family and origins, that dropping out to do a filler case in-between can almost grate, like being ripped away from an enthralling movie halfway through to watch a TV episode of something completely different. Thankfully, though - in the instance of the fourth case, for example - the side dishes are not as lengthy as the main course, and when the core story does kick back in, it is powerful and meaty enough to wash away any lingering frustrations (if you can call being entertained in a different way a 'frustration,' that is). The final case, in particular, is so gripping that it almost feels like an entire separate game in its own right, and lasts absolutely ages when compared to the brief fourth case, and even the in-depth first three.

From the witty humour along the way - including some hilariously named clients - to the brilliantly detailed scenes to scour during the pre-trial investigation sections (complete with a tick list to show what sections of a scene have been viewed now, preventing the past issue of clicking on already inspected areas by accident), and the wealth of ways to find flaws in witness testimonies (welcoming backing Phoenix's Psyche Lock ability that helps break down emotional walls, Apollo's perceptive nature of spotting physical tells when covering up the truth, and even the return of the Thought Route to logically piece key facts together), Spirit of Justice is an absolute joy to play through, and is without a doubt the best entry in the series so far.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Bringing together the key players from recent Ace Attorney outings, whilst developing some of the newer characters to flesh out their stories for future entries, is a very difficult balancing act, yet with Spirit of Justice Capcom expertly navigates any pitfalls to deliver the most in-depth, enthralling episode of Phoenix Wright's adventures so far. It might, for better or worse, feel like Apollo Justice 2 to some, but the way the story unfolds over the five cases is magnificent and leaves players - new and old, alike - hungry for much more.

Developer

Capcom

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

It sounds like a big improvement over Dual Destinies. DD wasn't bad, but it felt awfully hand-holdy at times. 

I really got sucked in by the story in Dual Destinies, possibly more so than here...but overall I felt this was the better game because even though the fourth case seemed out of place, by the time I'd worked through the extremely long and hard-hitting final case (complete with some shocks!), I was left desperately wanting more - something I didn't actually feel when DD ended (I don't think I even bothered with the DLC for that one).

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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