Great Ace Attorney is a crime-solving VN where you play young Japanese man Ryunosuke Naruhodo who has been thrust by unlikely circumstances to become a lawyer in England.
The premise is ridiculous and the game successfully walks the thin line of taking itself serious at times where it's important (with big shonen anime pathos, but serious, nonetheless) and being a playful adventure around both intriguing and wacky roundabout crime-solving mysteries with courtroom drama.
One thing I should mention here is that Great Ace Attorney ventures far more into the realm of "real-world" problmes than the other games in the series, namely, racism. You would think a wacky anime game like this is ill-equipped to take on such a heavy subject matter, but it realistically depicts how people back then (and nowadays) view other people from far removed cultures. The constant allusions to Japanese people being "just weird" almost feels like an indictment towards this sentiment in our era, where it's always about those wacky Japanese people doing wacky Japanese things without any regard for their other cultural habits and customs. I highly respect that Great Ace Attorney was willing to go there, even if it always addresses the depicted racism with some form of levity and snarky remark from Ryunosuke and doesn't just make you look at it and get too uncomfortable.
Enough heavy stuff. I feel like VNs live or die mainly by presentation and writing, which are both in my opinion
a) absolutely excellent and
b) highly subjective
but I can also commend the games on its active gameplay segments:
1) Mostly linear point & click investigation segments. These are mainly structured in a way to pace the flow of information, which, admittedly, doesn't really feel like meaningful gameplay and more of a knack in supplying information in a more exciting way but that 100% isn't meant as a detriment. Tiny bits of looking around and clicking stuff to simulate investigating a crime scene goes a long way for experiencing a story that is fundamentally built on mysteries and intrigue. Being delivered all this information passively through pure VN segments would frankly be more boring and make you feel more disconnected from the mystery at hand.
2) Deduction-based gameplay:
This is where this series truly shines. Unlike the gameplay mentioned before, these segments are strictly linear, but they always face you with a conundrum that surrounds the established facts. Does anything that has been said by a witness contradict the facts? How do you explain this or that circumstance of the case? What evidence has to be looked into further to give an answer? The genius herein lies that the game (usually) has given you a lot of information at the start of each of the deduction segments, making you anticipate the points that might crop up but also blindsiding you with details that have always been there from the first place - Yes, some revelations only come with time and you will be given decisive information very late into trials, but the way everything falls into place is always a very satisfying romp and a very engaging brain-teaser. I was flabbergasted when the final case had established and hidden a crucial detail right in the first 20 minutes of the courtroom trial, and I never noticed until it became important.
The game had me beam with joy at its writing and character the deduction segments were engaging and fun, and it's all around a wonderful experience. The worst I can say about it is that it feels too much like a mid-season-finale, almost like it sets up too much for the second game and is not interested enough in explaining its own overarching mysteries, so it ends on a rather unsatisfying note in regards to that. I have to deduct points here because the game is banking on the promise of something really good coming. I do wonder if the second game will make it all pay off, and if it does, hey, I'll be very happy, but I can't give points for promises, now can I?

Reviewed on Jun 04, 2022