At the same time that the upcoming crossover with Professor Layton was being developed with Shu Takumi himself writing the story, Takeshi Yamazaki(Writer and Director of the Investigations spinoff duology) took it upon himself to create the fifth entry in the series. Yamazaki proves with this one that he is the right man to take over for Takumi. Let's take a look:
Taking place a year after the fourth game, Dual Destinies introduces us to new characters including another young apprentice named Athena Cykes who joins Phoenix's agency. Phoenix, Apollo and Athena will partake in 5 cases filled with intrigue, emotion, and comedy.
The story is absolutely fantastic. Aside from the usual twists, character-driven humor and intrigue, there's a much more emotional story being told here thanks to the fantastic new characters, with newcomer Athena Cykes being the standout character. Another great improvement is how the script's logic is miles better than previous games. Aside from maybe 2 or 3 braindead moments, the script always makes sense in the context of the series.
The only problem resides in the second case. It's not that it's bad or anything, but its quality pales in comparison with the rest of the game. Its nature feels very out of place in the game and the fact that it almost has no impact on the main narrative unlike the other cases doesn't help.
But despite that, this is without a doubt the best story in the series. The emotional depth and brilliant writing far outshines the problematic second case.
Dual Destinies takes the core gameplay from the previous four games and puts its own twist on things. Aside from the obligatory menu-based evidence presenting and witness pressing, We now have analytical psychology. Athena's ability to detect how a person is feeling when testifying gives place to cool moments where you compare their testimony with what they feel to uncover their lies.
There are also some gameplay refinements, like being able to save at anytime during the game, making the save system work exactly like emulator save states and a dialog backlog keeps the player from getting lost as a cause of how convoluted the plot gets.
With these changes and improvements, it's safe to say this game is also the best in the series gameplay-wise.
The music is made by series veteran composer Noriyuki Iwadare and just like the rest of the development team, he outdid himself. The now fully orchestrated tunes sound fantastic and help enhance the story tremendously. The voice acting is also quite great. Every actor fits his role perfectly, specially veteran Wendee Lee as Athena.
Since this is the first 3DS entry, a visual makeover was needed. Fortunately the artists did a fantastic job of turning all the 2D backgrounds and sprites into fully 3D objects without sacrificing a single bit of charm, as the much more fluid animations are still done in the same style as the previous games.
The anime FMVs by BONES(Animation studio famous for their work on Fullmetal Alchemist) are the star of the visual presentation. Brilliantly animated and well directed, they feel exactly like you're watching the fanbase's wet dream of an animated adaptation made real.
Overall, with a story brimming with emotional depth and intrigue, fantastic presentation and improved gameplay, Dual Destinies is everything an Ace Attorney fan could want and more. It's a brilliant game with a ton of love and thought put into it.
Final Grade: 9.3/10
Join me next time, as i return to the Professor Layton series one last time to review its big finale. See you then ;)