These timed sections are Ghost Trick's gamiest moments, where objects have to be tricked in specific orders and at exact times to be successful. Fail and you can simply rewind the clock again, but having to replay certain sections a handful of times, while listening to the same lines of dialogue repeated over and over, can add an unwanted touch of frustration.
When written down it can be quite a lot to take in - the kind of meandering, conceit-driven game that makes for pages of dry exposition. But while Ghost Trick essentially defines its own set of rules, it's further proof of the carefully and competently written narrative that the player never feels lost in each new twist or trick.
Supernatural abilities make up less than half the game, however, with the real meat of the experience coming from the endless reams of text that make up much of Sissel's 18-level adventure. Here Capcom's localisation team deserve a nod for a sterling job, with an adeptly translated script that gleefully bounces off the screen and reads like the entire thing could have easily been written natively in English.
The delivery of the text is also blissfully married to the game's beautiful presentation. Compare it to something of a similar vein - Chunsoft's entertaining but deeply flawed 999, for instance - and it's clearly raising the bar for the whole genre. The buttery smooth animation of the characters hearkens back to the rotoscoping phenomenon in the 90s, and it's probably the only game I've ever played where a character walking down the stairs actually forced me to laugh out loud.
Without wanting to delve into specifics, however, the telling of Ghost Trick's story is more competent than the actual story itself. The ultimate twist is more than a little unsatisfactory, though it is nicely integrated into the game.
Few members of the cast make themselves as lovable and endearing as Phoenix Wright and his assorted company, but the range of personalities are not without their fair share of charm - dandyish Inspector Cabanela and determined pooch Missile are the standout highlights. Despite the disappointing finale, my cold ice heart warmed slightly at the game's closing shot and the story deserves bonus points for not leaving things wide-open for a sequel.
As a whole, though, it's an elegantly crafted thriller that stands out as an original, charming and beautiful adventure. As an experience it's well worth the price of admission, but sadly Ghost Trick lets itself down with its overall simplicity and the disappointment of its crucial final act.