Picross meets Phoenix Wright

I have mixed feelings about Murder by Numbers being described as Picross meets Phoenix Wright. The Picross part is accurate enough, but while there are definitely some Ace Attorney vibes here the gameplay bears only a passing resemblance.

Like, yes, there are murders, and you look around for clues and talk to people with simple dialog trees and you can show them your clues to get a reaction and sometimes this is necessary to get more information that moves things forward. But that’s common in mystery games. To me, the essence of Phoenix Wright games are the trials and especially the cross-examinations. Hearing witness testimony, finding the lie or error, and presenting the piece of evidence that proves the contradiction - it requires some actual deduction and understanding of the case’s facts, and to me it makes for the most satisfying moments of those games.

I’m enjoying Murder by Numbers, but I’ve now completed two of the game’s four cases and there’s been nothing like that.

I get that Phoenix Wright is the best-known murder mystery game series with an anime or visual novel style. The comparison would be inevitable even if the soundtrack weren’t by Masakazu Sugimori (who also did the music for the first two Phoenix Wright games). But on some level it frustrates me because it seems based on a superficial read on the series which leaves out its best strengths.