Last week saw three new releases that we didn’t manage to fit in before the weekend, but that we enjoyed playing nonetheless. Here are our thoughts on Capcom’s Ace Attorney Chronicles, the complete edition of Frostpunk for consoles and Trigger Witch from Eastasiasoft.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles review (PS4)
Capcom’s Ace Attorney franchise still feels like it’s tied to various Nintendo platforms, but the series has touched nearly all major platforms in recent years. The release of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is one of those multi-platform launches, gracing the Switch, PC and PlayStation all at the same time.
Included in the release are two spin-off titles that haven’t been available in the West prior to this package, which is surprising when you consider how close they are in mechanics to the other titles while also delivering a high quality narrative. Rather than following Phoenix Wright, these two games feature all-new characters with a narrative that plays out over 100 years ago – with an ancestor to Phoenix Wright who also happens to practice law.
Although there is a tie to the previously released games, you don’t need to be familiar with them or their characters. In fact, as a standalone prequel this is a great starting point that introduces the Wright legacy by following protagonist Ryunosuke Naruhodo as he starts off on his legal career – a story that spans both of the included games. It can be a bit of a slow burn at the start as you’re introduced to the main characters of the story, but it doesn’t take long for the game to (re)introduce you to its familiar mechanics.
As interactive visual novels, you’ll investigate crime scenes as you prepare you case, while you unravel testimonies with the evidence you’ve found when in court. It’s text-heavy, but there’s always a good balance between reading and staying on your toes as you’re alert for inconsistencies between what someone’s saying and what the evidence has shown you. This happens when questioning a witness, but you’ll also be called upon to convince a jury – which can sometimes be heavily against you with their pending verdict.
The story also introduces you to a fun Sherlock Holmes-inspired character (as Ryunosuke travels to London), adding to what is already an engaging narrative full of memorable cast members. While the story could just lean on these characters, there’s also a great plot that’s well written and features plenty of twists and turns – making sure it never drags for too long. And if the main story isn’t enough for you, then there are also the Escapades – which sounds saucy but they’re just short side stories you can engage with.
Originally released for the 3DS, this one isn’t a visual showstopper, and the 3D elements in particular date the titles despite a resolution upgrade. Still, this isn’t a game that you play for its “next gen” features, but one that you don’t want to miss out on if you enjoyed Phoenix Wright’s adventures and want to have a go with new protagonists who re-introduce you to familiar mechanics and great storytelling.
Frostpunk Complete Edition review (PS4)
After a lengthy development cycle that included ports to other systems and post-release content, the Complete Edition of Frostpunk is now available on PlayStation and Xbox One – bringing all of the DLC add-ons to console owners for the first time as part of an expansion/season pass, as standalone purchases or as part of a Complete Edition for those who never picked up the base game.
We first saw glimpses of 11 Bit Studios’ Frostpunk back in 2017 when it was premiered exactly four years ago this month, and the post apocalyptic city builder was well-received with its mix of choice-driven gameplay and micromanagement. In the game, as part of alternate history of Earth, there’s been a dramatic climate change where most of the planet is now a frozen wasteland, with humans only surviving in small settlements.
Gathering resources and constructing buildings, your job is to keep the settlement functioning – against the elements and the odds. Hope and happiness are important ‘resources’ among your people as well, and tough decisions affect them. Will you force children to work, for instance? In a battle for survival, rules and ethics are flexible, and the balancing act that flows from that is a complex one.
Having previously played the PC version of the game, it’s striking to see how well the UI has been adapted for console play. Functions that used to be hidden in a menu structure for mouse/keyboard control can now be accessed through radial dials. Most of the options there also have further sub-menus, but you never have to dig too deep and the most frequently used controls are designed to either be available at the click of a button of at the top of a menu. Clearly, a lot of work went into redesigning the game for gamepads. There’s a bit of a learning curve while you get comfortable with what’s where, but the end result is a very comfortable experience – a rare thing for a game originally designed for PCs.
What also works well is that you can pull up a context-sensitive dial as well, which brings up the most used actions for a particular object, and this is a great way of quickly getting things done as well. It takes a bit of getting used to because it makes the menu dynamic, but eventually you won’t want it any other way. If you consider that time management already takes up four buttons on your gamepad, it’s impressive how well the rests of the game controls.
It definitely helps that Frostpunk looks the part as well on a PlayStation 4 Pro, although it looks like there are no specific enhancements for the Pro (or a PS5) that could have given the game an extra boost. It’s being released at a price point that makes it an absolute steal though, so if you managed to hold out without jumping on the PC original or earlier console port, then the Complete Edition is a solid recommendation.
Trigger Witch review (PS4)
Published by Eastasiasoft but developed by Rainbite, Trigger Witch is an excellent little indie game that was just released for all major consoles (including next gen compatibility). We played this top-down action adventure on a PlayStation 4.
Although heavily gameplay-centered, Trigger Witch features a storyline that stars Colette, a witch who is the hero of a narrative in which you’re fighting for the safety of your kingdom. Although the interactions that deal with this are fun, the bulk of the experience is all about clearing dungeons in twin-stick shooter style – and yes, you’re firing guns rather than spells. If you’ve played other games in the genre, you’ll be right at home here, with intuitive controls and mechanics that include the ability to dash out of the way of incoming fire.
As is the norm for a twin stick shooter, you can unlock and pick up a wide range of guns, from the standard firearm you start out with all the way to rocket launchers. All of the guns can also be upgraded using the credits you accumulate in the game, which you can also spend on health boosts for Colette. If you’re struggling to find collectibles, then you can also consider buying a level map that reveals them. Boosting your character stats and weapons should ensure that Trigger Witch never feels too challenging though, even without the need to gather all those collectibles.
Trigger Witch features cute and colorful visuals in a retro-inspired 8/16-bit style, but a closer inspection reveals that both the player characters and the enemies also have tons of little animations to bring them more to life than an 8/16-bit game ever could. Things become especially lively when you engage with the local co-op mode where you can join a friend, which is where Trigger Witch’s fun gameplay shines especially bright. It doesn’t revolutionize the genre, but it’s a very entertaining indie nonetheless.