Ghost Trick – dev interview

We could tell you about Capcom’s dazzling new possess-’em-up, or we could leave it to people who are a bit more in the know. Say, writer/director (and Phoenix Wright creator) Shu Takumi and producer Hironobu Takeshita? Go on then, we’ll let them do the talking...

So, Ghost Trick. Explain.

Hironobu Takeshita: In this mystery adventure the protagonist, Sissel, is murdered at the start, loses his memory and becomes a ghost. As a ghost he decides to pursue the truth about who he was, why he was murdered and by whom.

Extraordinary powers grant him the ability to possess and manipulate lifeless objects. By using the stylus he can hop into an object and activate an action unique to that object. For instance, in a room where an assassin is approaching, Sissel could possess and manipulate objects like an umbrella, a TV remote or a cupboard door to change the fate of the resident of the room. By altering the deaths of others, his mystery slowly becomes uncovered.

Can you tell us a bit about the ‘hero’, Sissel?

Shu Takumi: Everything about him is secret because the game is essentially about his lost memory. In return for his life he gains the powers of the deceased, to possess and manipulate. There is one more, however: the power to travel to the past. When a corpse is possessed Sissel can take the world back to exactly four minutes before the time of the death. Changing the fate of another victim may help in solving Sissel’s mystery. Unfortunately, this ability cannot be used with the protagonist’s own corpse.

How did this idea come about?

ST: At first we had the hero as a spy and thus the game’s title was ‘Ghost Spy’. However, he is not a spy anymore and he lost his memory. This suggested we had to change the title. In fact, the Japanese word for ‘to possess’ is pronounced very similarly to the English word ‘trick’ so we chose the title with a bit of a pun for fun!

A lawyer (Ace Attorney) and now a ghost. What draws you to unconventional heroes?

ST: I guess I only write plots for games that I would want to play myself. However, the common element between Ghost Trick and Ace Attorney is the fact the game system comes before the plot.

For the Ace Attorney franchise the primary aim was to create "a detective game to logically expose flaws and inconsistencies of a lying suspect," and here lawyers and the court were perfect candidates. In Ghost Trick the main theme is "a detective game to influence others’ fates from outside their world and to observe their lives go by," and the current settings have been led from this initial concept.