Well, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Believe it or not, and despite all things Mass Effect: Andromeda, I have been slooooowly winding my way through the final chapter of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, a game that I picked up on a whim a few months back. And I’m pleased to report that I made it through! Yes, I literally rose from the ashes in “Rise from the Ashes,” the game’s final chapter. And wow, what a finale it was! I don’t know how I’m going to put my experience with this trial into words, but I’m already typing, so here goes…and spoilers ahead!
At the end of the previous chapter, “Turnabout Goodbyes,” Phoenix bid farewell to his faithful assistant Maya as she went off to pursue her spirit training. So obviously my first question upon starting “Rise from the Ashes” was who the heck was going to help Wright?? (Not that he couldn’t do it on his own, I’m sure, but where’s the fun in that?) The answer came quickly in the form of Ema Skye, a forensics expert-in-training, I guess? Turned out that her sister, Lana Skye, a police detective, had been charged with the murder of another detective, Bruce Goodman. Despite Lana’s protestations that she had actually did commit the murder, Ema was determined to prove her innocence. She turned to none other than defense attorney extraordinaire Phoenix Wright for help, because, of course! What Phoenix and Ema dug up during the course of their investigation was no less than shocking, as it lead them into the very depths of deceit and corruption in…dun dun duuunnnn! The police department! Crazy, right? Right? Ahem.
Guys, this was one heck of a case. I swear that it was as long as the first three cases put together. And I cannot even begin to describe how many times I found myself completely stumped. I’m also still not sure that I understand the motives of all the people involved and the outcome. I ran into a number of scenarios where I felt positive that I had the upper hand with the evidence, and yet the game shut me down. And as with the previous cases, some of the logic leaps just didn’t make sense.
It was also generally stressful trying to defend Lana, who believed she was guilty. Up until nearly the end of the trial, Wright’s discussions with Lana were almost robotically negative. At every turn she wanted him to simply give up. Meanwhile, on Wright’s other side was Ema, profusely refusing to accept just about anything her sister said. Rectifying their relationship, strained over Lana’s seeming personality “flip” with a new appointment in the police department, was contentious, and at times, just plain weird. The game played it as her defense mechanism against being manipulated by Chief of Police Damon Gant, a bizarre character in his own right, but I’m not sure I bought it.
Speaking of strange characters, this game was rife with them! From a striking but odd lunch lady named Angel…
…to a guy named Jake Marshall who fancied himself a cowboy…
…to the Blue Badger, a silent, “dancing,” wooden mascot of the police department, which ended up being a key item in the case…
…oh, and lest we forget Officer Meekins, literally the meekest officer on the force.
This was a case that kept me guessing until the end…and hoo boy, that ending! The basic set up involved Angel, Jake, Lana, and Bruce as detectives who were once assigned to a case involving a serial killer. This old case was revisited in depth during the course of several visits to the courtroom. It was interesting to see how the events of that case unfolded into quelled chaos several years later that affected everyone involved, even Edgeworth. As twisty as the story was, I really have to give the game props in overall storytelling. Previous cases were like onions with consecutive layers that needed to be revealed. “Rise from the Ashes” was more like unfurling a rose. The layers were interconnected, and once revealed, the case’s pattern was far more intricate. And in the end, well…things took a very sinister turn as both blackmail and forged evidence came into play, indicating that Gant had framed Ema in order to keep Lana under his thumb – he bid her to take the fall for Bruce Goodman’s murder in order to protect Ema. Suspenseful until the last, I truly breathed a sigh of relief when Gant’s crimes were finally made known and Lana was found not guilty.
And so ends my time with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. What a ride!
But how about a couple parting thoughts? After knowing nearly nothing about Phoenix Wright, these past couple of months have shown me why he, and his series, are so beloved. For one, Wright is an everyman, a guy just trying to be the best defense attorney he can be. Unlike many video game heroes that seem impermeable, Wright has flaws, and the game puts them on display through his both interactions and inner thoughts. It’s far more easy and compelling for me, a regular human being, to relate to that over the likes of, say, bullet-dodging dudes like Nathan Drake or blank-slate characters Mario. This game invited me into Wright’s world without any implications of perfection. Of course, the goal of the game is to win by obtaining “not guilty” verdicts, so it’s still a game. But it’s not a game that punishes you for trying. In fact, it encourages that and gives you chances to screw up. As mentally taxing as some of the case logic is, I appreciate being given chances to re-strategize. Maybe that’s not how it happens in real life courtrooms (I’ve been in them; it’s not.), but again, it’s a game.
A great game.
A wonderful game!
A FANTABULOUS GAME!! 😀 😀 😀
As I’ve said before, I never knew defense attorney-ing could be so enjoyable and intriguing, so thank you Phoenix Wright for that! I do look forward to continuing with the series eventually.