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It happened to me again this morning. My boss asked me if I was feeling "glass half full" today. He didn't have to add "for a change", but it was heavily implied.
He regularly labels me as the world's worst pessimist, which seems to me to be a little unfair for a number of reasons, not least of which being that it's not true. And I ought to know, because I've looked into the void and seen what lies beyond. I've played Ghost Trick.
In Ghost Trick you play a character named Sissel who wakes up and discovers that he's dead. On finding out that he has consciousness he's befriended by a swaying lamp called Ray. It turns out that he's Special because he can manipulate objects and travel down phone lines. And most impressively of all he can travel back in time just long enough to avert a terrible fate from befalling various characters whose lives are interwoven with his own mysterious death. He just has to find out the right way to do it. And then there's the burning question - why did he die anyway?
So begins a journey of discovery. Sissel has until morning to work his way through a series of puzzles that will lead him towards the answer to his question and hopefully bring him some sort of relief.
The puzzles generally involve moving between objects and causing things to happen in a particular order that finally result in a heavy object falling on someone's head, or causing a distraction or diversion of some kind.
I can only imagine how bad the other games must be.
I know absolutely nothing about this sort of game, but I do know that it seems to have a lot of fans. I've heard it said that by comparison to similar games the story is compelling, the writing is good and the end is ultimately fulfilling. If so then I can only imagine how bad the other games must be.
I basically have two objections (ed: shouldn't you be shouting that?). The first is the writing itself. I found myself scrolling through pages and pages of dialogue, at the beginning between Sissel and Ray and then later between all the various characters that come along and after a very short space of time I just couldn't be bothered. In fact I started to rather resent it. It may just be that the story didn't grab me, but it certainly isn't my idea of a game. If I wanted to spend an hour reading then I'd pick up a book. And I would enjoy it a lot more.
My second objection (ed: no, it's OBJECTION!) is that the puzzles themselves are a bit limited. There is just one solution to each puzzle and you have to complete all the puzzles in the right order. If you don't get it right you get given clues with all the subtlety of a brick. And it has to be that way because if you were to get stumped completely you would grind to a halt and have to give up on the entire game.
I admit to being vaguely interested.
So I guess that for those who enjoyed the game they bought into the story and maybe actually cared about what happened to Sissel. I could admit to being vaguely interested, but nowhere near enough to carry on playing after about five hours. If I genuinely had nothing else to do I would probably have persevered but the thought of pouring any more of my time into it was, frankly, depressing.
So, why am I not a pessimist? For starters I gave Ghost Trick a really good go. I was ready to give up at an early stage, but on the recommendation of others I carried on, hoping for more. Sadly it didn't happen, but then life can be disappointing. Pessimists are rarely disappointed.
But there's more to it than that. I'm surprised by just how many people believe in some form of life after death, and for some maybe it looks a bit like this -- fulfilling what we've left undone, righting the wrongs of the past. Is that part of what makes this game compelling?
Far be it from me to impose my views on anyone else, but I really hope when I die I won't end up a tortured soul like Sissel. I want to fly.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: