The Ace Attorney series, much like the cases presented within it, has seen its ups and downs. Justice for All wasn’t what fans were hoping to see when they started playing it, but it managed to recover in time for its grand finale. Trials and Tribulations started with a lesser first case, and baited players with a seemingly lacking introduction to the second case before finally revealing its true colors for the rest of the game. Apollo Justice brought the series back to the ground, digging a deeper hole with every unaddressed logical contradiction it spun. Now it’s Edgeworth’s turn to showcase if he has the logical finesse to climb the ladder (it’s a step-ladder!) out of that hole. Can he succeed, or is he doomed to fail like Wright’s previous successor?
It’s hard to put down Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth as either a complete failure or success. It’s not a typical Ace Attorney game in almost as many ways that it actually is. Instead of trying to change things by having a different cast, one that’s still stuck under the control of the old one, they changed the gameplay. The gameplay still follows the same basic route that the Ace Attorney series is known for, changing the way the game plays and feels in several ways. Still, the basic ideas and structure are strongly following the Ace Attorney roots, so even with all the changes, it doesn’t feel too far from home.
Let’s get started with the story, as it’ll throw some light into how the basic feel is different as opposed to the regular series.
After coming back from an unforgettable flight back from a business trip, Edgeworth gets held at gunpoint in his own office. Not only that, a murder had occurred in the very same room. It doesn’t take long before he uses his logical expertise to find that all of this is tied to an attempt to steal files related to an elusive smuggling ring, as well as the famous thief known as the Yatagarasu. From that point onwards, he’s dragged into the search for the truth behind the Yatagarasu, the smuggling ring and that important case years ago that was so important someone died trying to steal the files concerning them.
If there’s one major change in the story, it’s the fact that everything ties directly to Edgeworth’s character. He’s not someone hired to protect an innocent person from being accused of murder. Often enough in the game, he finds himself as the accused himself. Instead, Edgeworth is investigating the crime as it just happened. Not much time has passed. The criminal still hasn’t had time to flee the scene. Police as well as the Interpol are searching the area for clues. Scenes still get changed during the investigation. Events are still taking place as Edgeworth looks for clues. The murders are still much fresher, and the investigations end the same day they get started before any formal arrests are made.
This approach makes some of the situations a lot more dramatic, and the game seems to suffer from it. Still keeping the light-hearted approach that it has always been known for, the extra tension doesn’t cut as deeply as it could have. Simply put, the effect doesn’t work as well as intended. What’s supposed to come across as a tense dramatic situation often comes across as a strained, slow crawl leading nowhere.
The addition of a new character as a partner, Kay Faraday (“You can call me Kay, ‘kay?) as a hyper-active ninja version of Maya doesn’t pan out that well with the new direction. The best moments in the game are when Edgeworth finds himself paired up with Franziska Von Karma. And even then, there’s this painful feeling that she’s only in the game to appease as many fans as she possibly can. Same with the return of the Proto and Blue Badgers, The Steel Samurai, Officer Meekins and Larry Butz. I know they’re staples in the universe, but the way they’re tied into the cases doesn’t make me feel like they’re that well-connected with the case at hand. They come across as forced.
Not So Fast!
That isn’t to say that the writing that drives the game is absolutely bad. The second and fourth case completely grabbed my attention. They were a blast to play, and every new bit of story and information that got uncovered made me feel accomplished. Something the original three games were good at making the player feel. It makes it more painful that the entire game doesn’t seem to quite get to that level, but with the new direction the gameplay has taken, they could have just been experimenting. No, the writing hasn’t botched this one up, although the ending is unforgivably unsatisfying and sluggish. It drags the impression of the rest of the game down in the progress. With 5 cases in total, the last one being the conventional double length of a standard case, it’s a downright shame.
It’s good to see they’re at least trying to do something new with the series. Instead of the static images as backgrounds for locations that the player was stuck with in previous titles, Ace Attorney Investigations allows you to walk across the map, as well as actually walk up to people and talk to them. It makes the game feel a bit more dynamic, as if you have more control over your character. Sure, it’s not a massive breakthrough in gaming, but it’s more than a welcome change from the previous titles.
Where Phoenix had his Magatama, and Apollo had his bracelet, Edgeworth has Logic. Yes, Logic has reached super-power status. Whenever anything seems odd or like it needs additional thought to Edgeworth, it’s added to the Logic screen. By connecting the right two pieces of Logic together on that screen, you reach a logical deduction, often altering a piece evidence, or allowing you to further examine objects in the room, or question people about certain matters related to the newly made deduction. It’s a fun addition, but it never gets fully utilized in the series. Whenever you get two pieces that can be connected, the game seems to pause just to nudge you that this might connect well with that other piece of logic you just found! Wink, wink! It’s a shame because if it would have stopped doing that halfway through, a simple tool like that could have easily led to much more satisfactory discoveries.
The rest of the game is mostly the same. Yes, it takes place outside of the courtroom, but that doesn’t stop Edgeworth from having heated arguments with people. You still press statements, loudly object with evidence. The only real changes to the formula is that there’s no table to slam, paper to point at, and the newly added “Not So Fast!” by agent Lang. Instead of Witness Testimonies and Cross-Examinations we now have Arguments and Rebuttals. They’re the very same thing, and it often feels silly. An Interpol agent and a prosecutor standing in the middle of an amusement park yelling Objection at each other just doesn’t work as well as an attorney and a prosecutor doing the same in a court of law. Even if it still felt silly in that setting.
As I previously said, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth is a hard game to judge. It has a lot of ups and downs to it. The writing during the cases ranges from great to abysmal. Newly added gameplay mechanics are both welcomed, but not implemented to their full potential. Cameos of old characters work out well at times and seem forced at others.
All in all, it’s a much better game than Apollo Justice. At times, it’s better than Justice for All, but it’s not consistently good enough to rank it as highly as the first series. There is a sequel in the works, so with a little luck they’ve learned from this outing with the series.
If you’re a fan of the Ace Attorney series and generally like point and click adventures, I’d recommend Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. Despite its flaws, it’s a solid game.