Phoenix Wright Trilogy Review – Justice for this series

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release: 9th April 2019 (3DS in 2014)
Price: 29.99

Phoenix Wright is a series many may have heard about but never actually played. On the one side, it´s mainly a visual novel about solving mysteries without a ton of meaningful interactions, a concept not appealing to many to begin with. On the other hand, it was caged to the DS for almost its entire lifetime, a console either geared towards kids that may not want to read all this lengthy text, or adults to which it may not appeal. Naturally, it still found its audience and success, but I always wondered if it may one day get released in a way I can enjoy these games too. This day has come.

Divided into three games, the Phoenix Wright Trilogy offers, well, a collection of the first games of this series with a whole of 14 episodes or cases. Similar to episodic series, each case offers an own storyline around different murders. Phoenix Wright, a new attorney, is tasked with solving each one of them, often involving people he knows personally, for better or worse. So it´s our task to fight against the evil other lawyer, reveal the truth and uncover bigger and bigger connections between each case in every game.

Did you think of all the thrilling trials about life and death, hard criticism against the system and mature content Phoenix Wright may contain as a result? Yes? Well, you won´t find any of that here and I´m incredibly happy about that. It´s a silly, dumb ride through absurd scenarios, dialogues and whatnot but here´s the catch: I still take it seriously. Why? Because this series has mastered writing.

Every case in Phoenix Wright follows a steeper and steeper way into absurdity, with the prosecutor creating evidence, inviting fictional witnesses and a lot more I don´t wanna spoil. Over the course of each game there will also be a wide array of equally dumb varities of them you have to overcome in order to reach justice. It feels like a ride into how a kid would imagine the court and its procedures at those times. The ruses are obvious and so foreseeable that they bring such a simple, nice joy to your heart when confronted by them. As vial as each case may be, as many died, seeing how obvious liars and culprits can simply come up with the dumbest stuff to save themselves is simply entertaining.

However, this innocent joy could have easily led to an atmospheric mess, where no case takes itself seriously despite being about very serious stuff. Luckily, this isn´t the CASE at all since the biggest part of the time is spent at doing serious investigation, witness questioning and well, defending your client. All of those aspects are as you would expect them to be, pretty fun! While they´re not as intricate as Professor Layton´s puzzles, they offer a similar appeal to point and click games, despite focusing on the visual novel/dialogue aspects 80% of the time.

Now, the real art is to combine those two extremes into a single experience, where the player is confronted with a serious world, problems and allegations but one that also is full of crazy people. For once, Phoenix himself is commenting on the absurdity of some things, while still being forced to battle them seriously, as made up as they are, because of the real threat they pose to defending his client. On the other hand, the whole atmosphere is actually shifted a lot more towards seriousness than anything else. In fact, the sarcastic, humouristic undertone is seemingly part of the world, naturally integrated into every little aspect but never too much to let it seem comedic or absurd.

This is also shown in the artstyle, that´s similar to the low resolution style known from DS games, despite having been reworked, mixed with a giant array of expressive faces. Every more important character is able to convey his whole personality through their (limited) animation, expressions and “poses”. Especially the witnesses often have more going on than theri initial impression may reveal, so over the course of each case, Phoenix Wright does a wonderful job at actually teasing those twists with little things in their animation, how they react to questions for a split second and much more. Combined with a unique writing style for each character, every single main actor feels likeable and entertaining, while offering a lot to discover through the many puns and whatnot. Naturally, the drawings still do a surprising good job on higher resolutions due to the reworks and I simply adore the soundtrack.

Conclusion

So, is Phoenix Wright fun? Yes, yes and yes. It´s an entertaining trip into the court from a wonderfully “anime” and childish perspective, with tons of likeable characters, puns and engaging gameplay around searching for the contradictions. Top that off with the well-written stories and dialogues and you got a game that manages to please both the child in you, yet offers an adventure even grown ups can have a ton of fun with at the same time. So do it Justice and check it out!

[A Review Code was provided by Capcom]