I’m pretty new to the visual novel genre of video games. Quite frankly, I hadn’t really heard much about them and probably wouldn’t have understood the appeal until I played them. I picked up a copy of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney last year after being inundated by fanart by a friend of mine, and I was surprised with how quickly I finished the game, barely putting it down. I’d quickly grown attached to the characters, in particular one especially dapper prosecutor named Miles Edgeworth. His haughty demeanor was somehow endearing, and I wished that there were a game especially for him. Lo and behold, there was one!
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth takes place a month after Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials & Tribulations and before Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. A murder and theft occurs in Edgeworth’s office, and his job is on the line when he’s accused of killing the officer in his room and hiding the stolen materials to fabricate a motive he wouldn’t have had. He finds out the true killer and thinks that everything is settled. However, as Edgeworth is coming home from a month-long trip to Borginia, someone is murdered on the ridiculously designed plane he’s on. When Edgeworth is accused of killing the man by one of the passengers, he sets out to simultaneously prove his innocence and catch the true murderer. After the plane lands, he runs into Franziska von Karma, an old friend and rival who has been pulled into the situation due to its connections with an Interpol case she’s working on regarding an international smuggling ring.
After the true murderer is found, Edgeworth receives a call from an old friend for a favor: deliver a ransom to save his kidnapped son. Edgeworth agrees out of loyalty to his friend, but he gets caught up in something much bigger. He meets a thief named Kay Faraday who claims to be the Great Thief Yatagarasu, and she helps him solve the case after plucky sidekick Detective Gumshoe is held up answering to Shi-Long Lang, a bossy and illogical Interpol agent from Zheng Fa. Once that case is solved, Edgeworth returns to his office to find yet another murder and theft. These cases end up tying together with the Yatagarasu, a criminal organization that seeks to expose corruption by revealing stolen evidence to the public. As always, the story is one of the best aspects of the game, but I didn’t get hooked until later on unlike some of the other games.
The only complaint I would have about the storyline itself, or perhaps the way the game is laid out in regard to the story, is that it doesn’t seem like it can decide whether Edgeworth is supposed to be a prosecutor, a defense attorney, or a detective. As far as the actual gameplay goes, I don’t really have any complaints; I liked investigating fine. Investigations is is in the name, after all, and it’s a common element in the Ace Attorney games. However, I was expecting something else from an Edgeworth game. The first half or so of the game had Edgeworth defending himself and several other people from accusations, which is a Wright or Justice thing to do; or doing the job you’d expect Gumshoe to be in charge of, given that Gumshoe is an actual detective. I enjoyed doing the investigations; I just didn’t understand why I was doing so much investigating, given that Edgeworth’s actual forte is prosecuting. Aside from that, there’s no real reason to revisit any of the chapters when they’re finished, unless it’s been a while since you played the game and you wanted to catch up again. To be honest, it’d probably be easier and take less time to just go on GameFAQS or something and reread the plot because the chapters are long.
The gameplay of this particular Ace Attorney game is similar to the other games in the series. However, as the majority of the game takes place outside the courtroom and Edgeworth is a prosecutor, unlike Apollo Justice or Phoenix Wright, there are some differences. As in previous games, your job is to put the pieces of an increasingly complicated puzzle together as people die and things get stolen. You have evidence that you collect and present in order to contradict testimonies, you can press people when you feel they’re lying or confused, and you have a partner who’s mostly useless but is supposed to be there in case you need him/her. As I’ve found in the previous games, the dialogue can be a bit difficult to navigate sometimes when you know what you need to present but you haven’t found where the game wants to present it. Also, things can seem linear when you already see a contradiction, but you have to wait until the proper time in order to present the evidence that shows it.
However, Edgeworth’s modus operandi is logic, so there are a few ways to produce evidence that are different from the game’s normal options. For instance, you can link evidence through the Logic function and present evidence that’s inconsistent with other items by using the Deduce function. While Edgeworth is listening to a testimony or examining crime scenes, he may store bits of evidence in his head that can be connected using Logic, which will lead to new information or directions to take the case. For example, in the first case, if you link the idea that it might not be a coincidence that the murder took place in Edgeworth’s office and that he is the only one with the key, one would have to think that the killer was after something specifically in Edgeworth’s office. Deduction is simply pointing out that something is wrong with the picture as it has been laid out so far. For example, in the second case, if you examine the victim’s body, you’ll notice that he’s wearing a lanyard, but nothing’s on the end of it. If you look at a picture you find on his body, you can deduce that he used to have a cell phone. Since the cell phone seems to be missing, perhaps something on the phone that the killer considered important enough to steal. The controls handle easy enough, though sometimes it’s easy to confuse what method you’re supposed to use to get that next piece of evidence.
The character design in this game is clever and charming. Each character is unique and has a personality which, while obviously exaggerated, manages to evoke some kind of emotional reaction, like amusement or annoyance. The facial expressions are awesome, particularly when Edgeworth completely demolishes the NPC’s testimonies and rebuttals. With the inclusion of inside jokes from the rest of the series—like Oldbag’s over-the-top adoration of Edgeworth and a (thankfully) brief appearance of Ema Skye—it really brings it home for people who have played other Ace Attorney games. I found myself laughing whenever something from a previous game was mentioned or smiling when I saw a character I hadn’t seen in a while.
And as always, the inner dialogue Edgeworth has is amusing, to say the least.
There are no complaints from this reviewer as to the aesthetic features of this game. The graphics and music are done as well as, if not better than, they’ve been in previous games. The game is beautiful with crisp character portraits and entertaining music. The soundbites from characters are executed well and they add another level of enjoyment to the experience.
I sunk hours into this game and enjoyed it, though I probably won’t go back to it for a while. There was plenty of story to be had, and just when things started to feel like they were dragging on, something new came along to kick up the pace. I enjoyed the silly banter and the references to other games, and I felt like there was plenty of fan service for those who have stuck with the series. The cases seemed longer than in other games, and it paid off for the most part. Edgeworth remains my favorite character, even if I didn’t enjoy this game as much as I’ve enjoyed other Ace Attorney games. That said, I wouldn’t have any objections to having another Edgeworth game come to the United States.
* Excellent graphics
* Clever character design
* Enjoyable music
* Amusing dialogue
* Fan service
* Plenty of play time
* Game can’t decide what Edgeworth is actually supposed to do
* Actions can get confusing
* Partners not as useful as they could be
* Timing issues with the presentation of evidence
FINAL SCORE: B
Disclosure: This game was not sent by Capcom. The reviewer completed the game in approximately 17 hours.