Capcom was happy to present the newest entry in the Ace Attorney series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Spirit of Justice, at this years E3 as they gave attendees a chance to try out the next adventure for the Wright Anything Agency. This demo takes place in the fictional monarchy of Khura’in, where Phoenix is a stranger in a strange land as he is almost immediately tasked with defending a young monk-in-training, Ahlbi Ur’gaid. Since Phoenix is new to the land, Ahlbi was acting as a tour guide until he is suddenly accused of a murder, and Phoenix, being the humble defense attorney, is quick to take the case.
The demo is short, but it’s enough to give an idea of what’s returning from previous games, and what new features fans can expect. Starting out in the courtroom of Khura’in, players soon discover that lawyers, especially defense lawyers, are considered to be the scum of the world. The law of the country rules that if the defendant is to be found guilty, so is the defense attorney, meaning that Phoenix is putting a lot on the line for his young client. What makes things worse, Ahlbi doesn’t trust Phoenix at all, as he has been raised to think that all lawyers are liars.
Most of these aspects can be considered minor changes to the formula in previous games, as there are still testimonies, cross-examinations, presenting of evidence, and more. What Spirit of Justice brings to the table however is the new séance trials, as the Royal Priestess Rayfa decides on the fate of the accused by accessing the memories of the victim just before their death. With the new “Insight” system, players will be shown a scene from the eyes of the victim in the courtroom’s “Pool of Souls”, being given several details that represent all their senses like sight and smell. It’s up to Phoenix to spot the contradictions to Rayfa’s interpretation to show that traditional justice still has a place in Khura’in.
In the demo, Ahlbi is accused of accessing a royal treasure room and stealing the national treasure, the Founder’s Orb, as well as killing the guard, Paht Rohl. The murder weapon is another item that was in the treasure room, an area that no citizen had access to, as the killing blow was dealt by blunt trauma to the head. Using evidence and the details within, the player must figure out how to put the pieces together to progress the trial. Gaspen Payne, Winston Payne’s brother, returns from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Dual Destinies to be the Chief Prosecutor for Khura’in, and it’s great to see the way that he interacts with Phoenix.
Ahlbi seems to be scared, and if the history of the Ace Attorney games is to be an indicator, he’s likely innocent. Despite this, since he doesn’t trust Phoenix, he is distanced from telling the truth in his testimony, even suggesting a detail he shouldn’t have known. Though the player can catch Ahlbi in a lie and get him to correct his testimony, it is cut short in the demo and brought to the new Insight system rather quickly.
Rayfa takes the stands, looking to the Pool of Souls to summon the concrete evidence that shows the victim viewing Ahlbi lifting an unseen object over his head, smelling incense and hearing the sounds of a ceremony as well as a boy’s voice, just before his abrupt death. As she interprets the information, Phoenix needs to poke holes in the vision and the testimony by pointing out inconsistencies they might view, but Rayfa doesn’t go down without a fight. Using the evidence to pinpoint the contradiction, players can make her update her testimony to give more details to uncover the truth.
Despite the new revelations, players have to really pay attention to detail to make her lose her credibility in her testimony, finding a fact that she can’t counter. Without spoiling the answers here, players can look forward to pausing and scanning through the Pool of Souls to find the answers they seek to continue on with the trial. It’s a nice new feature that adds to the presentation as it involves looking through cutscenes, and fans can look forward to the infamous shouts and finger waggling that they’ve grown accustomed to with this popular franchise.
With all the humorous writing and fantastic music to keep the story engaging, Capcom seems to have another winning entry in the series for the Nintendo 3DS. Even though they weren’t in the demo, fans can look forward to other returning characters like Apollo Justice and most of all, fan favorite Maya Fey, who was absent in the previous two entries of the series. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Spirit of Justice releases in September this year as a digital only title on the Nintendo eShop.