Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth 2

The “Investigations” series is an audacious failure. Built up of the same parts that constituted its parent “Ace Attorney” series, it boldly dispenses with their proper order and thus neuters its emotional impact. There’s a real sense of catharsis in the Ace Attorney games, carefully nurtured by the structure of gathering evidence and then using every piece in a final dramatic courtroom battle. The trials even manage to evoke feelings of tension and accomplishment, high achievements in a visual novel with no choices and no genuine possibility of failure (saving being possible at any moment). The “Investigations” series sets fire to these accomplishments by brazenly jumbling up the order of collecting evidence and cross-examining testimony, hopping back and forth between each many times per case.

 

One might ask, “Why don’t the ‘Investigations’ games work? The ingredients are all the same.” The question itself is wrong. The right question is: Why do the Ace Attorney games work? There’s nothing new or exciting or even fun about its gameplay: clicking all the clickable objects per screen and asking every question of every character was an uninspired way to play a game even back when Snatcher did it in 1988. But there’s an undeniable emotional release that comes from using all these clickable objects later in a grand battle to prevent a miscarriage of justice. It’s this emotional experience that ties people so strongly to this series. It’s what causes them to throw money at embarrassments like this:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1873107026/aviary-attorney (Please don’t pledge money to that. Instead pledge money to my Ace Attorney clone where you defend people before the pearly gates and help them win their way into Heaven.)

The writing is the same in the Investigations spin-offs as it is in the main series, and for the most part you’ll have as much fun playing it. Presenting evidence and exposing contradictions is as enjoyable as ever. It’s the overall experience that will be noticeably different – especially when it’s over. Completing an Ace Attorney game is an intensely satisfying experience that looms large in one’s memory. Ace Attorney Investigations will end and you won’t feel anything and you’ll forget about it in a couple of days.

There’s an argument that this is actually meta-game commentary. The Phoenix Wright games leave you feeling good about yourself and with treasured memories to look back on, like a defense attorney. The Investigations games leave you feeling like one of the prosecutors of the series: cold, unsatisfied, and ready to move on.

 

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