Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy seems great so far, and I can’t wait to play more | Hands-on preview

by on December 11, 2023

The Ace Attorney series will always have a special place in my heart, being the first visual novel style game I ever played. When most people think of Ace Attorney though they think of Phoenix Wright, despite the fact he was only the protagonist of these games at the very beginning. A couple of years ago we were introduced to Ryunosuke Naruhodo in The Great Ace Attorney games, but it’s easy to forget that awkward middle child of a protagonist Apollo Justice. Well in an effort to ensure that all of this great series can be played on modern consoles, the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is releasing next year with more courtroom drama than you could ever possibly need.

This trilogy of games is set after the Phoenix Wright games, and follows rookie defense attorney Apollo Justice. With equally ridiculous hair and a thirst for helping those in need, he’s pretty much as likable a character as the attorney we all grew up with. He meets a whole lot of charming side characters and nasty prosecutors along his journey to courtroom greatness, and you’ll have plenty of time to experience all that over the sixteen cases that make up the trilogy.

A screenshot of Ace Attorney: Apollo Justice Trilogy

If you’ve not played any of the Ace Attorney games before this is a weird place to start, but the Apollo Justice trilogy does have the same beloved gameplay loop. Cases are split between investigation sections which see you exploring environments for evidence and talking to witnesses, and the generally much more exciting courtroom sections. In court there are witnesses to cross examine, which you do by pressing them for more information as they testify, and presenting evidence if you notice a contradiction. Once you start piecing together what really happened in a case you feel like a genius, but there will be dozens of twists and turns along the way.

There is one mechanic that separates the Apollo Justice trilogy from it’s other legal based video game peers, and that’s the perceive system. Our main man Apollo has the uncanny ability to notice even the smallest tell when a person is lying, and by spotting these and confronting the witnesses about their bending of the truth you’ll end up finding out crucial new information about the case. It’s maybe not the most ground-breaking Ace Attorney mechanic, but it’s a nice little twist that makes these particular games unique.

Fans of the Phoenix Wright trilogy shouldn’t be too upset about playing as a new protagonist, because the spiky haired stud himself has a rather prominent role in the Apollo Justice games. Even in the very first case you’ll meet up with an older and more grizzled version of the famous former defence attorney, and he’s not the only familiar face you’ll encounter throughout your legal adventure.

A screenshot of Ace Attorney: Apollo Justice Trilogy

Now if you played the Apollo Justice trilogy the first time around you know what to expect, but there are a few extra features in this collection you might appreciate too. The main one of these is the museum, which features a huge amount of character art, all the music from the games and even the option to check out all the animations for your favourites in a courtroom setting. For series fans it’s a real treasure trove of goodies, although if you don’t want to have anything spoiled you should probably avoid it until you’re done playing through the games.

There are also some fantastic features available to ensure you don’t have to look for a guide if you’re struggling to figure out that evidence to present next. “Story Mode” can be activated at any time, and when it is the game will automatically pick the right option and play through the game for you so you can just relax and watch everything unfold. Even in the opening couple of chapters I was able to play for this preview there were a couple of sections that confused me, and with one press of the button I was able to see what I needed to do to proceed which was really handy.

A screenshot of Ace Attorney: Apollo Justice Trilogy

The Apollo Justice trilogy originally released on the DS and 3DS, and as such weren’t exactly the most technically impressive or visually advanced games. With character models and backgrounds completely modernised these games have never looked better, whether you’re playing the initial game with its 2D art or the later 3D games in the collection.

I’ve loved every second of my time playing through the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy so far, and the extra features and bonus content it contains has really impressed me too. If you missed out on the adventures of the second lawyer protagonist back in the noughties then you’ll have a great way to rectify that next year.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is coming to PC, Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox on January 25th, 2024.