Off in a small corner of the Monster Hunter Festa event in Nagoya was a demo corner for upcoming CAPCOM games, including the new Ace Attorney game – aptly named Ace Attorney 6. I was eager to see what the game’s new setting had to offer, so I rushed off to wait in line and try my hand at the demo. Here’s what I saw.
The game begins with Phoenix talking to a happy, seemingly worry-free Bokuto Tsuani, a priest in training revealed back at the Tokyo Game Show in September. Phoenix recalls how when he first met Bokuto, the conditions were much more dire – and in classic Ace Attorney fashion, you are sent back to re-live a trial where you are his only line of defense against the lawyer-less Kurain justice system. Gaspen Payne, who fled to Kurain after years of shameful prosecutions in Japan, is now the country’s best prosecutor.
Bokuto has been accused of killing one Mima Waruhito, who died of blunt trauma to the head, in sacred chambers (in this case a treasure room) restricted to members of the Kurain Royal Family. If he’s not going to get grilled for murder, Payne at least wants to catch him in his own lie and nail him on charges of trespassing. Phoenix knows more about the situation than the player though, constantly asking himself why Bokuto is lying about not being at the scene – and in that, you find contradiction that seems to condemn him.
Payne produces a newspaper article in which a black and white photo of the sacred chamber’s treasure box, which only members of the Kurain Royal Family may lay eyes on makes the front page. This sends Bokuto into a panic, who states that he knows he wasn’t supposed to enter the chamber and that he’d never seen “that box with the green Kurain family crest.” Green, you say? That’s quite a specific detail for a black and white photo. OBJECTION!
This proves that he was in the treasure room…but the conditions of the murder are still unclear. Enter Lefya, the Princess Medium of Kurain, known in its courts as the Oracle of Spirits.
Bokuto constantly asks Phoenix not to say his name – as doing so causes him to experience considerable pain. It seems that this pain is somehow connected to his underdeveloped medium powers – so Lefya steps in to do some legwork. After a stern warning that “this country has no need for lawyers,” (seemingly insulted by the fact that Phoenix is ‘bending the truth’) she performs a holy dance and channels the victim’s spirit to display his final moments in the Water Mirror at the court room’s center.
This Spirit Medium Vision is Ace Attorney 6’s new spiritual and grim mini-game. On the bottom screen there are a number of tabs – each represent a moment of the victim’s final memories. Much like how emotions became stronger and weaker during certain sections of testimony in Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies’ Mood Matrix sections, experiences tied to your five senses like “hearing” and “smell” disappear or reappear during sections of these memories.
You can pause these moments with L, or speed them up with Y and A if you wish. The goal is to identify a moment where the senses betray the testimony or the memory itself – but only just as I started this mini-game were we pulled away from the demo. It was left wondering at what moment “A young boy’s voice, a ceremonial song,” or “the smell of incense” contradicted what I understood of the case.
Moving away from the demo itself, I want to mention a few things the new setting had me thinking about.
Though we’ve seen Apollo in the previews, Phoenix has no consulting partner at the beginning of the game. As in other games, when the player goes through the witness’s entire testimony without presenting evidence, Phoenix (or whoever you control) briefly gather themselves and vaguely guide the player on how to proceed. In Ace Attorney 6, after hearing all of Bokuto’s testimony, Phoenix laments over not having anybody to consult. The game puts particular emphasis on this point.
Kurain may be Maya’s bloodline, but, the state of the country is in fact an antithesis to her character in the original trilogy: Maya understands the limitations of her powers, knowing full well that the famous Kurain channeling technique, as well as items like the Magatama that reveal Psyche Locks, require equal parts law to be in balance. In Kurain, however, that logic is backwards – the powers here are so great, they are above law.
It seems like Phoenix presents more of a problem in this country, to the point where he is almost an enemy – even to the judge – and with the Mystic Vision power only able to recall the final moments of the dead, could there be manipulation at work for those who understand the Kurain family’s powers? Moreover, does questioning those powers have consequences? How will Kurain be affected by the realization that Lefya’s powers are not absolute?
The game’s undertone is law, but its cornerstone is logic and perception.
With Apollo taking the stand alone in the preview, and Phoenix being alone in the demo, it seems Mr. Wright might be taking on something just a little out of his league. He might even need his own spirit medium of his own to help.
Also, on the note of the first victim’s name, it’s a reference to the Sanskrit word मीमांसा or Mimasa, a school of Hindu Philosophy whose name literally means “Investigation.” In a photo of the crime scene, Mima is shown holding a scroll, and dressed ever so slightly like a thief. There is much more to the trial than 15 minutes could have given.