The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is the kind of engrossing murder mystery that’s perfect for a long vacation — it just happens to be a video game. As a prequel of sorts, Chronicles takes place long before the original Ace Attorney trilogy, with new characters and a much more grounded tone, but with the same absorbing investigative gameplay and shock story twists that make it hard to put down. It’s the best of the franchise in one lengthy package.
The game — which is actually a collection of two titles that previously launched in Japan — follows a budding defense attorney named Ryunosuke Naruhodo during the late 19th century in Japan. Things immediately get off to a rough start. In the first case, Naruhodo is forced to defend himself in court after being accused of murder. The second case features a shockingly unexpected death… which Naruhodo is also accused of committing. Things don’t slow down from there. The story jumps from Meiji-era Japan to Victorian London, with lots of delightful twists along the way.
If you’ve never played an Ace Attorney game, they play out a bit like a visual novel crossed with a detective game. Scenes generally revolve around either a court appearance or the investigation of a crime, so you’ll spend most of your time searching for clues, interrogating witnesses, and reading over lots and lots of dialogue. It works because of the incredible writing — buoyed by a great localization — that seamlessly jumps from goofy to serious to heart-wrenching. Most importantly, there’s the incredible feeling that comes from finding the right piece of evidence or contradictory testimony that will blow a case wide open.