ne of Phoenix Wright’s most endearing qualities as a lawyer is his ability to transform a dubious situation into a resounding success. Trials & Tribulations is similar to its title character in that respect; it may be hard to imagine that the third installment of a text-heavy, barely interactive adventure series can maintain its charm and momentum, but this conclusion to Phoenix Wright’s story arc is just as satisfying and entertaining as the previous titles. In fact, Trials & Tribulations is my favorite Ace Attorney so far.
All of the major gameplay advances from Justice for All are present and refined. The Psyche-locks are back, but you have more clues as to when you are equipped to take them on, giving the investigation segments a much better flow this time around. You also won’t find any of the first game’s grueling three-day trials, which again aids in the pacing. There is still just as much content, but it is delivered in denser, less segmented chunks, so it’s easier to get wrapped up in the action.
For a game that is basically a visual novel, these improvements to the story experience go a long way. Even so, Trials & Tribulations isn’t a reinvention of the series; it doesn’t contain any features that really utilize the touch screen, and many old problems persist. There are still infuriating moments in court when you’ve made the logical connection and are forced to choose between presenting two equally plausible pieces of evidence – like the picture of a coffee cup at the crime scene versus the cup itself. The second those moments pass, however, you’re back to loving the game – it’s impossible to stay mad at Phoenix.
For those familiar with the story of the first two games, you can look forward to all of the loose ends being tied up by two related timelines (past and present), quirky new characters, and tons of entertaining testimony. Knowing that the next game in this series will star a new up-and-coming defense attorney, Trials & Tribulations is a fun and fitting farewell to Phoenix and company.