If you want all the drama, passion, suspense and intricacies of the courtroom, the best way to get it is to go to school, study really hard for several years, then bribe—Nah, just kidding! You can easily get your fix by watching TV, reading a bunch of fiction books, and playing games like Devil's Attorney, a new simulation from 1337 Game Design that's one part comedy, one part 1980s culture, and maybe two parts lawyering, all carried out via a snazzy touch interface that's much more entertaining than studying case files and figuring out what habeas corpus means.
Devil's Attorney is all about Max McMann, attorney and all around man with a plan. He's suave, he's hip, he's got a great suit, and he apparently wears a perfume called Success, which in our minds means he smells like a cross between rubbing alcohol and Brylcreem. Max works out of a small office and takes on cases one by one, going against some of the toughest/craziest lawyers in the city. Winning cases earns Max money, and you can spend that money to upgrade the apartment which unlocks new abilities to use in the courtroom. It's very much like a light RPG in that nature, though it's thoroughly casual in design and form.
Courtroom battles play out like a law-infused game of touch combat, presenting Max and his moves on the left and the opposing council on the right. Each "enemy" is armed with a damage score, health points, and possibly a special ability or two, all spelled out beside their picture. Scrolling through your list of talents, you can unleash attacks that directly damage witnesses, lawyers or evidence, reduce their attack power, render them inert, or recover your own "health". Each ability consumes action points, and when you run out of action points, your turn ends and the other side gets to take their turn. Survive through to the end and you just might live to lawyer another day!
Analysis: Initially described as a game that drew inspiration from Phoenix Wright, Devil's Attorney isn't your typical investigation-based mystery solving experience. Instead, it's almost like a hybrid game of Puzzle Quest with enemies and skills to earn and use in combat, all played out in a strategic sort of way. You even get to trace your way up a skill tree by adding new furniture to Max's apartment, which is probably the snazziest way to gain abilities in casual gaming history!
Gameplay alternates between courtroom battle and the between rounds skill optimization, but most of your time will be spent facing off against opponents. Unfortunately, this can lead to a bit of repetition later in the game, as the basic formula presented early on remains true to the end. In true casual form, though, it's expected you're not here to play through the game in a single sitting, so kick back and take a leisurely approach to winning the world over with your smile.
If you're an 80s guy or gal, you'll certainly get a kick out of Devil's Attorney. Even if you're not, this is a stylish and casual simulation game with a great sense of humor, some lovely voice acting, and a nice sense of progression that will keep you tampering with evidence all afternoon long.
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.