Saturday, September 11, 2010


"But what is often called an intuition is really an impression based on logical deduction or experience. When an expert feels that there is something wrong about a picture or a piece of furniture or the signature on a cheque he is really basing that feeling on a host of small signs and details. He has no need to go into them minutely - his experience obviates that - the net result is the definite impression that something is wrong.But it is not a guess,it is an impression based on experience.", Hercule Poirot, "The ABC Murders"

Upon my return, I discovered I had a bigger gaming and detective fiction backlog than expected, so it was nice (and more efficient) to have something that was both a game and detective fiction. Trick X Logic Season One was a game I bought only days before I left Japan (because I have wa~hay too many point cards), but that doesn't mean it was just chosen on a whim. I had been actually looking forward to this game for some quite time.

This visual novel, developed by veteran Chunsoft, caught my attention because many big-name Japanese detective writers collaborated on it. Seven writers wrote ten scenarios for the game, with the reader being forced to solve the mysteries themselves.

The premise: after being pushed off of a building, prodigy prosecutor Yoshikawa Itsuki wakes up in Hell. Where the judge of human souls, Yama, asks Yoshikawa for his help with some unsolved cases. Yama usually reads a record of human deeds, the Akasha, to pass judgement on human souls, but in some cases he can't figure out whodunnit just by reading the Akasha. Hence the need for Yoshikawa's mind. He is to read the Akasha and figure out the culprit. If he cooperates, Yama promises to return him to the land of the living.

Cue the scenarios of the detective writers. Season one consists of 5 and a half stories, being 0) Yubisasu Shitai ("The Pointing Corpse", credited to Chunsoft), 1) Nusumerata Figure ("The Stolen Figurine", written by Abiko Takemaru), 2) Akari no Kieta Heya de ("In the dark room", written by Takemoto Kenji), 3) Yuki furu Joshiryou nite ("At a snowing Women's Dormitory", written by Maya Yutaka), 4) Setsudan sareta Itsutsu no Kubi ("Five Necks Cut Off", written by Ooyama Seiichirou) and the story part (no solution chapter) to 5) Bourei Hamlet ("The Ghost Hamlet", written by Kuroda Kenji). The stories all feature classic detective themes like dying messages, impossible disappearences, cut up bodies and alibi tricks.

In practice, you get to read a story (or for the lazy: listen to a reading of the story!), with no conclusion. Then you select keywords from the text ("He can't read" and "He was seen reading a book"), in order to generate mysteries (the previous keywords might lead to "Why was the man reading a book if he can't read?" for example). This mysteries can be combined with other keywords to solve them, thus creating insights ("It was an imposter" or "He actually can read"). Finally, these insights are used to answer the questions of who- and howdunnit.

It's like a more advanced version of Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney); reading the text you'll find suspicious sentences, which you pursue further. The difference being the scale: whereas Gyakuten Saiban usually gives you 5 pieces of testimony a time, Trick X Logic will give you a 200 page story to find all the clues. And the mysteries and insights you find while reading the story? A lot of them are plausible, yet false. This combination-of-hints-to-produce-hypotheses system is kinda reminiscent of the Trick game (not related), only at a much higher level.

Which is also the frustrating part of the game: at times you'll figure out what happened and how, but have severe problems finding the right combination of keywords out of a 200 page story. It's a complaint I hear a lot about Gyakuten Saiban, knowing what happened without knowing how to activate the story flags to actually proceed. I personally never had any problems with that in Gyakuten Saiban, but let's say that a 200 page version of that is indeed very vexing.

I certainly had fun with this game; the stories were fun, production values are quite good for the budget price at which this game is sold and I am looking forward to the second season. However, at times it was kinda frustating to actually find the right keywords and mysteries within the story to complement the (correct) ideas I already had in my head. Still, I guess this is the closest you can get to a one-on-one conversion of a classic detective novel to a game.

Original Japanese title(s): 『TRICK X LOGIC』/チュンソフト 「指さす死体」/我孫子武丸 「盗まれたフィギュア」/竹本健治 「明かりの消えた部屋で」/麻耶雄嵩 「雪降る女子寮にて」/大山誠一郎 「切断された五つの首」/黒田研二 「亡霊ハムレット」


  1. I was looking forward to this, due to Maya Yutaka's stories in particular by now, but since I was planning on buying it during my vacation, which again did not come into being this year, I still have to order it. But after that and after finishing my bachelor thesis I'll devour this like yummy cake.

  2. If you have a Japanese PlayStation Store account, you could always buy Trick X Logic there; Season One is cheaper there and the Season Two stories have been available for some time now, while the disc version is to be released this week.

  3. If I had one I would have bought it long ago...But I'm sending used books from amazon to my friends' apartment over there anyway so I'll just include both seasons in another order then and later they'll bundle up everything and send me a big package.

    I'll have to divide reading into 'on the move' and 'at home' during lecture period again aince more Nikaidou and Maya (among others) will be too tempting even if the latter also wrote for the game.

  4. can you tell me if this is the beginning of the game?

    1. It's the demo, but it's based on the first case of the game, yes.