I'm a big fan of the Ace Attorney series. I don't think I'll ever not be, even with the many missteps it takes. It, along with Silent Hill, re-ignited my interest in gaming and storytelling, got me back into writing, and gave me one of my favorite characters ever, for a lot of embarrassingly personal reasons. I missed this series a lot, and Dual Destinies was a welcome entry back into it.
It wasn't without its faults, of course. Like many, I was pretty let down by the fact that the game narrowed down the investigations to crime scenes only, taking away half of what made the Ace Attorney games so fun to begin with. For the first three cases I actually had to summon the will to return to them, simply because I had no investigations to look forward to. I really hope this isn't something that'll carry over into the future installments.
And like many, I was burned pretty badly by the news of case 3's "shocking gender reveal," to the point I had a hard time enjoying playing the game with that in mind--and I was still only on case 2. I was glad I was warned of it, however, and ended up less repulsed by it than I would have been if I'd gone in with no knowledge of what was to come, but it ended up being really, awfully handled regardless. Worse yet, it had ultimately had no point other than to pad out the case further and provide the audience with a cheap shock. It's sort of amusing, in retrospect, because said case was all about tearing apart the belief of "the ends justify the means"...and here was a fine example of how the ends (Robin freeing herself of a "false" persona and embracing her "true" one) do not justify the means (how we find this "secret" out).
But that's really all I have to say, in terms of criticisms that stuck out for me. There's more I could discuss, I'm sure (Trucy's role, or near-complete lack thereof, "the dark age of the law"), but I was really happy with this game overall, and it's the first Ace Attorney game in ages I can say that for. Investigations was good, Apollo Justice was alright, both suffered from a lack of characters (apart from the returning ones) I could get attached to or invested in especially.
Dual Destinies however, my god, I loved so many of these characters. The Blackquills, the Tenmas, Fulbright, Myriam, Starbuck, Athena...even the ones I didn't care for made some sort of impression. They're all so animated, in that good, old-fashioned over-the-top-manner that made the old Ace Attorney games so memorable. They really went all out with it, even with the most mundane-looking characters, and I loved it.</p>
Apollo, who I was largely indifferent to in his game debut, really shined here, or at least gave me a newfound appreciation for his character. Seeing him from different POVs helped to make him more distinguished, and having his own personal case helped tremendously, too.
The last two cases were what sealed the game from "decent" to "really damn good." I was wary of the fourth case at first, but when it picked up it didn't stop. The last case was one "holy shit" after another, at one point even earning a gasp from me (it was the scene where the impostor Fulbright phantom pulls off his mask to reveal himself as Starbuck) followed by a breath of relief (...who also ended up being an impostor). The phantom's big breakdown scene of him ripping off one mask after another, panicked that he couldn't find his "true" face, was honestly horrifying.
Scattered, disorganized thoughts:
- I was overjoyed when you got Maya's letter. I miss Maya so much. I want a Mystic Maya: Master Channeler game.
- Phoenix and Edgeworth back in court was great, but! I really liked their brief investigation with Pearl the most. I really enjoyed seeing them interact in a (slightly) more relaxed setting, and wished there was more because what little banter they had there was great. ("Hey, I don't know Edgeworth. They might even be more human than you." "Wh-What's that supposed to mean?") Missed them so much too.
- I was REALLY taken aback by Athena suddenly quoting Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." No meme reference can possibly measure up to that.
- AURA BLACKQUILL, HOT DAMN.
- I want see a meet up with the Blackquill siblings and Edgeworth and Franziska more than anything. Maybe with Aura and Franziska sitting on their little brothers while drinking tea.
- Aura was in love with Athena's mom. During that bit where you learn Aura wanted something "more" than just respect from Metis, I was expecting a heart-wrenching "I wanted her love too!" confession.
- I liked that Hugh ended up being in his mid-20s, if only because it was refreshing to have a character in their 20s who doesn't have their life all together.
- I really loved the recurring theme of fear and how one overcomes it. It really stuck out for me with Starbuck, whose anxiety was also compounded with depression and self-loathing. And the final animated cutscene showed that he may not be fully over it, but he's capable of overcoming it to achieve what he loves doing most--it's a really triumphant message. Also damn, that scene where he was recalling his trauma with only the sound of breathing was intense.
- My favorite easy-to-overlook scene: Jinxie noting the bags under Simon's eyes and giving him a talisman to help him sleep better, to which he replies, "Th-thank you."
- Also loved that Phoenix's reason for returning to law ended up being the same as his reason for pursuing it in the first place: Edgeworth.
In conclusion: I really, really want that DLC case.