The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles review: Presents a strong case for itself on the stand

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Title: The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed on), Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: July 27, 2021

The Ace Attorney franchise has consistently been up there with setting a gold standard for the visual novel genre in video games. It is also a franchise that has been rather dormant for years now, so fans were very excited to see The Great Ace Attorney games  localized for regions outside of Japan. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is the collection of the two Great Ace Attorney games which were originally Japan-exclusive on the Nintendo 3DS. These games are prequels to the mainline series which many fans are familiar with.

Both games take place during the end of Japan’s Meiji period in the 19th century. You play as Ryunosuke Naruhodo, a student studying law at the Imperial Yumei University. He is the ancestor of the famous Phoenix Wright (you can definitely see the similarities in their facial expressions throughout the game). This isn’t a spoiler by any means, but he eventually travels to the United Kingdom to further pursue his career as an aspiring lawyer.

I want to refrain from spoiling the game as much as possible, since I firmly believe each case/episode presents a good amount of twists, epiphanies, and dramatic conclusions. For the sake of the review, I want to detail what the game does right; review spoiler alert, there isn’t much the game does wrong.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles review
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This game should feel familiar right from the get-go for Ace Attorney fans or players who enjoy the visual novel genre. You’ll have an introductory cutscene setting the background for the next case at hand, followed by laying out the traditional style of a visual novel. Characters will pop in and out of the screen, with readable dialogue at the bottom. You’ll sometimes get to look around your current location for clues, additional dialogue with people in the scene, and the occasional comedic break.

What’s new in this game compared to previous mainline games is that you can cross-examine multiple witnesses as well as cross-examine the statements and sentiments of the jury in your cases. This adds more complexity to cracking the case presented to you. It adds more dialogue and can honestly send the trials in avenues you wouldn’t think possible.

If your attention span is not as great, but you are curious about the game’s story, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles has two modes that help streamline the experience for you. One of them is the “autoplay” feature which keeps the text and dialogue going without the need to press the confirm button after every sentence. The other is “Story Mode” which basically answers questions, does the choice picking, and problem solving on the player’s behalf. It’s good for those who might be having some difficulty with the puzzles or just want to see everything unfold as if they’re reading a book.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles review
Capcom /

The “Story Mode” feature does void the player of trophies and accolades, so keep that in mind if you’re a completionist. Note that these features are optional and can be toggled at any time during your playthrough.

What really brings the setting of the game to life is the amazing soundtrack. The soundtrack of a game enhances my overall experience with it. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles sports a very dynamic, grand, and memorable orchestral score. It’s so captivating that sometimes in my time playing, I’d stop progressing further in the story to hear certain songs longer.

Luckily, the soundtracks from both games are available on Spotify, but they are fully Japanese. I’m hoping with this game’s release, there will be international translations for those who want to give it a listen. 

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles review
Capcom /

A note about the speech used in the game…

Be warned, there are mild spoilers and talks of racism and xenophobia ahead. As the setting of this game goes, you’re playing as a young, aspiring student from Japan in the 1800s. He travels to London to further pursue his career as well as gain as much knowledge to bring back to his homeland. However, given the time period, you’re in the Meiji era for Japan and the Victorian era for Great Britain.

To give further historical context, this was around the time that the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty was established. This meant that Japan was in the midst of a Western-influenced cultural reform. The United Kingdom was further ahead than Japan in terms of medicine, technology, and their legal system.

This voyage for young Ryunosuke was more than a golden opportunity to learn about law, but it was also a mix of culture shock and some racially charged language aimed at him and his people. The xenophobic and casually racist language displayed in this game came come off quite shocking, especially in this day and age. However, I see it as a means of opening up some uncomfortable but needed conversation about racial inequalities and the unfortunate bits of lingo that come from it, but ways to quell this sort of way of thinking.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles review
Capcom /

In our present time, we are in the middle of several cultural and community movements to curb racism and xenophobia. The last thing we should do is quickly run to deeming this ‘problematic’ and use that as a basis to not give this game a chance. Capcom boldly added this use of language to actually give the player a feeling of an uncomfortable reality that people faced in the 1800s. We have progressed societally to distinguish the morality of our word choices, especially when interacting with those of different nationalities.

I usually don’t like to get too much into sociopolitics when it comes to gaming and other forms of digital entertainment. It’s the most polarizing field on the internet right next to Twitter, but this is a game that doesn’t need to shove any lessons down your throat. In my time playing the game, I found myself being shocked at some of the racist microaggressions that the people of London spewed to young Ryunosuke and his constituents. But this isn’t the kind of shock that compelled me to think any less of the game or simply give it a bad score because of the word choices.

We should realize that through the ages, the usage of this language was and still is morally wrong. I hope this game’s ratings don’t get docked down heavily for using language that makes people uncomfortable. It hardly feels like a secondary narrative is being pushed here. If anything, it should open up that aforementioned conversation and be praised for tapping into something not many games do in a tasteful manner.

Heavy talk aside, there is a wide cast of characters who just flesh out more of this game’s atmosphere. Even the minor characters like one-time appearing witnesses, jurors, defendants, and the like make a great impact in Ryunosuke’s career as an aspiring lawyer. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles does so much right to create an enticing world that I wish I could explore more of.

While some courtroom battles might feel really long at times, especially with constant back-and-forths between the prosecutor and you, the dialogue is over the top, sometimes humorous, and well written. You’ll cycle through a plethora of different reactions from the cast as new insights are uncovered in a case or if there’s a dramatic turn of events.

Even for people who aren’t the biggest fans of visual novel games, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is one that shouldn’t be overlooked so easily. It has a story that does not hesitate to throw you into the lion’s den so you can see what this game is all about. Master the art of deduction with the help of your colleagues and start turning the tides in court, it’s a damn good feeling when you do so.

. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. 8.5. <em>The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles</em> is more than a solid port of two Nintendo 3DS games, let alone, one that was localized for Western regions. Its enhanced visuals, twist-filled and exhilarating story, and orchestral score create a package that will definitely give fans of the franchise or the visual novel genre a bang for their buck. It’s a game that will test your wits, memory, and logic skills to solve the various cases at hand.. Capcom

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.