The quirky Ace Attorney courtroom series may star a young lawyer by the name of Phoenix Wright, but it didn’t take long for prosecutor Miles Edgeworth to become a fan favorite. After being in the defense lawyer’s shadow for years, Edgeworth has finally broken out in his own game, a spin-off of the core Ace Attorney series. Though Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth shares many of the same gameplay mechanics as the previous Ace Attorney games, the action is taken out of the courtroom, and Prosecutor Edgeworth has some new tricks up his purple sleeve. While the game has some issues with pacing, grammatical errors, and bizarre logic that leads to a lot of guesswork, Miles Edgeworth is still an enjoyable title, and a welcome addition to the Ace Attorney family.
Like previous games in the franchise, Miles Edgeworth features five separate cases that must be completed in sequence. Though Phoenix Wright doesn’t make an appearance (other than being referred to as “a certain defense lawyer we both know”), there are several returning characters, particularly the bumbling Detective Gumshoe and whip-happy Franziska von Karma. Miles also picks up a young assistant, Kay Faraday, who appears to be the game’s answer to Maya Fey. Each chapter is self-contained, but there is also an ongoing story arc that ties together all of the cases. The plot fits nicely into the series’ continuity, and longtime fans will particularly enjoy the flashback case that gives players a look at Miles’ and Franziska’s early days as prodigy teenage prosecutors.
The core gameplay mechanic remains largely unchanged in Mile Edgeworth, with the titular prosecutor using a variety of evidence at his disposal in his never-ending quest for the truth. However, most of the action takes place outside the courtroom, and the player never has to prove a character’s guilt or innocence during a trial, a big departure for the series. As the title implies, the game follows Miles as he conducts his preliminary investigations, collecting questionable items and testimony from key witnesses in an assortment of locations. A new aspect is “Logic”, in which the prosecutor must piece together questions that have been raised during each chapter, and the conclusions lead to more evidence or, sometimes, another logical conundrum, pushing forward the case. The “health bar” returns, with a fraction being lost every time Miles comes to a wrong conclusion, and draining the bar leads to the game being over.
Though he is a prosecutor, Edgeworth ends up defending several wrongly accused people during the investigations of Miles Edgeworth, tasked with proving their innocence before they are arrested and brought to prison. Likewise, Miles will use his evidence, logic, and sharp wit to draw out the real culprit in a series of murders. These sequences of testimony work exactly like they did in Phoenix Wright, with the player able to press statements for more information, or present evidence when a contradiction arises. Because of this, the gameplay never feels like it strays too far from the core Ace Attorney series.
Fans of the Ace Attorney games know that the laws established in that world don’t actually resemble the legal systems of any country on Earth. The bizarre antics and constant accusations would be outlandish even for the most melodramatic legal television show, meaning that some of the conclusions you must come to in the game will arise from sheer guesswork, and not a real understanding of the current situation. On the other hand, there are times when it feels like the game holds your hand a little too much; this actually seemed like the easiest of all the titles in this franchise. Most frustrating are the times when the conclusion is fairly obvious, yet the game will not allow you to get there until you complete several other steps. That said, despite these issues, it’s still fairly satisfying to unravel each murder mystery.
One problem the Ace Attorney series had is that all of the story and dialogue is displayed in slowly-scrolling text, and there was no way to simply touch the screen or hit a button and make the entire block of words show up at once. This issue is even more frustrating in Miles Edgeworth, and it felt like entirely too much time was spent watching text slowly scroll. This breaks up the action, and inserting stretches of boredom and frustration. It may only be a minute here, thirty seconds there, but the fact remains that every time the plot advances, you need to slowly read line after line of dialogue instead of breezing through at a normal pace.
While Miles Edgeworth introduced plenty of new characters to the franchise, and the cameos were appreciated, the game reused a lot of animations from previous Ace Attorney games. This kept it from ever feeling entirely fresh, especially since some of the visuals date back to the very first Ace Attorney title, which came out in Japan almost nine years ago. Adding to the feeling that this game didn’t spend enough time in development are the numerous spelling and grammatical errors, though unfortunately those also are not new to the series. These issues may seem nitpicky, and they don’t take that much away from the overall gameplay, but they are representative of an overall lack of polish and attention to detail, making this one of the weaker entries in the series.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth takes an interesting step away from the courtroom, giving the prosecutor the spotlight that he so richly deserves and crafting a plot fitting for the franchise. Unfortunately, some issues hold it back from greatness, but despite the slow pacing and minor issues, fans will keep coming back until every case has been solved. Perhaps in the next installment in the series, the developers will take the time to make some new animations and fix long-running problems, but a few grammatical errors and slowly scrolling text aren’t enough evidence to raise an objection to Miles Edgeworth.