Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
HOLD IT! A new Ace Attorney title? Set in Victorian England? Alongside England’s greatest detective? YES! I would like to take on the cases presented! Will the adventures of Ryunosuke Naruhodo be comparable to those of Phoenix Wright? Will the trials be as weird, wacky, and intriguing as the previous games? Well, it’s time to take Great Ace Attorney Chronicles to trial!
In the Great Ace Attorney chronicles, we are introduced to the student Ryunosuke Naruhodo: a young shifty-eyed and cold-sweating student who is forced to defend himself in the recently instituted court of law of Japan. Since the case was politically charged due to relations with the British Empire, Japan’s new political allies, nobody wanted to defend him. So with the help of his friend and law student Asogi, Ryunosuke starts his career by defending himself at trial. From there he will go on to England to join in on more cases, along with the world famous British detective: Herlock Sholmes. With an overarching plot between two titles, and 10 cases to prevail in, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles details the sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing cases that Ryunosuke finds himself embroiled in.
If you have any experience with the Ace Attorney series, you’ll have a pretty solid idea what you’re getting yourself into. albeit with maybe a few changes here and there. GAA Chronicles consists of two titles, but both play the same way and have an overarching plot, all wrapped into one nice little package with a few extra bonuses. The games are split into cases, each of which will generally follow a similar pattern: investigation, then trial. The investigation consists of looking around the crime scene, or any related areas, examining objects, talking with people, and generally just learning more about the case. In the court trial, you will be tasked with listening to witness testimony, pointing out inconsistencies, examining evidence produced for the court, and convincing the jury, if the trial has one, that your defendant is not guilty.
Trials will begin with the prosecutor giving a rundown of the case, as well as presenting any initial evidence they wish to submit. You are free to examine evidence given to you, turning it over, poking at it etc., or read any notes presented, usually a post-mortem report. The prosecutor will then call in a witness, or witnesses, to testify. Normally a witness will give five statements, that you can press them to elaborate on, or present evidence to prove a contradiction between what the witness has stated and how the crime was perpetrated. Be careful though, as the judge will only allow so many mistakes before you get an expedited “guilty” sentence for the person you’re trying to defend. Sometimes pressing for more info is the answer, sometimes you need to present evidence. Sometimes you need to go through all the dialogue before your assistant, or someone else in the courtroom, will make a move that will provide you with the answers you need. Yet still at other times, it’s the other people in the witness stand that may react to your line of questioning. You can then ask that they say what’s on their minds, which may help you out.
If the trial has a jury involved, they may make a decision before the trial has finished. If they do so, you have to pick apart their reasoning for their decisions, pitting the jurors against each other in order to force the trial to continue. As the game progresses, this will gradually get more in-depth, having you present evidence, or pit other jurors against each other before you can get the info required to continue a case. All throughout this, both Ryunosuke and the witnesses will make these grand, exaggerated motions whenever something they say gets picked apart. This is a sort of “core feature” from the Ace Attorney games that was always enjoyable to watch. Each trial is filled both with hilarious hijinks, statements, and reactions, but also contains that element of seriousness that a court case is due. From cross-examining a parrot in the older games, to a witness shooting the judge with a smoke grenade, or Ryunosuke falling against his desk like he just got knocked out, there’s a lot of funny interactions.
When not in court, but still on a case, you will be traipsing around the crime scene and areas of interest, collecting evidence and talking to people. Sometimes you will have to present evidence, or discovered items, to people to make them talk here too, much like the court trials. Unlike the court trials though, you don’t have a limit to guesses you can make really. Occasionally, Herlock Sholmes will make an appearance, and make a grand reveal about two key points of interest in a brilliant display of “Herlock Sholmes’ Logic and Reasoning!”… okay, maybe “brilliant” is pushing it. Most of his “revelations” are way out of line, and it’s up to you to fix them. During Sholmes’ dramatic reveal, he will be spouting of fanciful lines, while whirling around the area, pointing things out. It then falls to you to pick up on the one word in each of his mini “deduction” segments in order to find out the truth. This is done by looking around the area and selecting an object, item, or clue that would best replace the wrong word in Sholmes’ deduction. Using a 3D movable view, you can look around and examine things, which is sometimes required before submitting the new word for replacement.
With the ability to save at almost any point in time, I wouldn’t call the cases “difficult” per se. There were a few times I was stumped for a while on how to proceed, and a few times I jumped the gun and presented evidence before I had examined it in-depth or I had pressed the witness enough to make them amend their statement, but overall I found the cases to be quite reasonable. Yes, some of them have some pretty improbable solutions, but they aren’t impossible, and the game does a fairly good job of leading you in the right direction. In addition to your court trial and investigations, there are a bunch of little side story type deals you can read, although they may contain spoilers, the game will let you know. There is also a “jukebox”, some fancy costumes to change the appearances of Ryunosuke, judicial assistant Susato, and Sholmes, as well as little challenges called “accolades” to interest you as well.
Similar to all the other entries in the series, Great Ace Attorney Chronicles has a really well put together soundtrack. The tunes are more reflective of the time period in question here, with a more Victorian era feel to it. Unlike the original title however, key characters now have 3D models, allowing for a greater range of motion and expression. While the backgrounds are still vibrant 2D landscapes, the people standing on them all have depth, a concept that, interestingly enough, actually comes up if you examine a certain object during one of the cases. Roll all this together and you have a nice package to present itself for your gameplay experience.
There isn’t really too much bad to say about Ace Attorney Chronicles. If you’re having troubles, there is a “story mode” that turns the game into a pure visual novel instead of a…lawyer? Attorney? Whatever genre this game technically is. The trials, while challenging at times, never have leaps of logic so out of left field you never saw them coming, and the characters are all interesting and unique in their own ways. I liked calling out other witnesses, pitting the jury against each other, and Sholmes’ deduction corrections were an interesting way to both deliver info as well as break up the monotony of investigating. That being said, some of Sholmes’ deductions are…painful to sit through. They don’t really offer enough “options” to be challenging, and replacing a single word is generally pretty simple. We can’t forget about the text speed either. Good lord, it’s rather slow. Thankfully, if you’ve already read a line once, you can skip through it a lot faster the next time, regardless of whether it was in story discussion or witness testimony and pressing.
Overall I can say there definitely isn’t any OBJECTION to the Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. The characters are endearing, the cases are interesting and pretty well formed, the music is great, and the 2D backgrounds and 3D characters provide a wealth of visual satisfaction. While the text speed may be a little slow for some, there were no real inherent issues to the game that I could find. The Ace Attorney series may be rather niche, but it’s also one that’s easily enjoyable.Score: 8.5 / 10