I've played a few of the Trauma Center games in the past and enjoyed them relatively well. So when I was told that the new game would change up a lot of the formula, I was curious to see exactly what developer and publisher Atlus meant by this. Earlier, I was given the opportunity to watch a playthrough of the Forensics portion of the game, a strong departure from the typical slice-and-dice gameplay of the series that focuses more on evidence collection and analysis than trying to beat the clock.
If you've ever played the Phoenix Wright series of games, you'll feel right at home here. The mission we were showed had Naomi Kimishima - the team's forensics specialist - show up at the scene of an apparent suicide, where a man lay dead with cut wrists. After doing some interviewing and checking out the scene, Naomi realizes that this probably isn't a suicide (as you may have guessed). So it's off to the lab to check out some evidence and find out what exactly happened.
The game plays out like a simple point-and-click adventure title. You look over scenes to find evidence, using tools like luminol to gather clues and other pieces of data that can help you solve the case. You can also listen to previously-recorded witness testimony (via Naomi's small recorder), pointing out specific parts of it as worth noting, which enters the portions specifically as clues.
As you examine pieces of evidence, clues, and testimony, they get entered into Naomi's computer as cards. These cards can be combined and examined to progress the case. For example, getting the assistant named, and I kid you not, "Little Guy", to analyze a knife has him figure out that it was the device that contributed the death of the man, which combines the knife and the wounds together. Combine enough of these cards, and you get what it known as 'solid evidence', which you use to build your theory and solve the case.
As you progress through this, you'll have to be wary of making the right choices in your fact-collecting. Sometimes you'll have to answer questions about particular clues, and picking the wrong answer means losing a heart, as does doing things like picking out the wrong piece of a witness's testimony as important. Lose enough hearts, and you lose the case.
The forensics section of Trauma Team certainly looks like it'll bring some variety into the reaction- and time-based puzzles that the game is known for. It looks like it plays out fairly deductively, and while the case we were presented with seemed simple, it's good to note that this was the first case of the game. Anyone who's played the series knows that the difficulty tends to ramp up pretty quickly, so it's likely the same will happen with this section.
In any case, it'll be intriguing to see how well Naomi and her speciality will slot into the rest of the game, when it is released on the 20th of April, later this year.