What if you took Ace Attorney and threw it into a historical setting? Well, you’d end up with Dai Gyakuten Saiban, or in English, The Great Ace Attorney. But what if I wanted that in English and on PC? Well, Master Magistrate is probably the closest you’re going to get.
You play as a town’s newly appointed magistrate, with your task being to oversee law and order within it. The majority of the game may be visual novel scenes, but once you’re on a case, it plays a lot like an Ace Attorney game. You move from area to area interviewing people, collecting information from the crime scene, and building up a collection of evidence before taking all of the relevant individuals to court and figuring out what exactly happened.
The court scenes play out like a combination between Ace Attorney and Danganronpa, with evidence being used on contradictory statements in testimonies and little argument mini-games that do this at a faster pace. There is a scoring system in place that measures how effective you are at presenting the right counterarguments and evidence, but it doesn’t appear to have much use outside of unlocking bonuses like concept art viewable from the main menu. You can just spam counterarguments and evidence without any fear of failing like in the Ace Attorney games.
That pretty much sums up the gameplay side to the game. It isn’t as gameplay heavy as the Ace Attorney games that obviously inspired it, but it’s not bad either. I like these kinda gameplay VNs for the freedom they offer compared to traditional ones, and Master Magistrate is yet another example as to why. It’s a nice change of pace from the visual novel side to the game if anything.
As for the actual quality of that story, well, I gotta say that it’s very quick to get going. Within like 30 minutes, I was already on the case trying to solve a murder. It was honestly quite refreshing, as I’m used to super long buildups from this genre. And it wasn’t like this pace was just limited to just the first chapter, it continued well beyond it.
However, it manages to do this while also having the occasional slice of life scene, several of which work towards developing the different characters. I won’t say that it does this better than other VNs, as some of these are just tropey hot springs scenes, but it’s enough that the game doesn’t just feel like its progressing at a lightning pace without any sort of characterization. And on the topic of hot springs, I should mention that the game has a free 18+ patch, so there’s that too.
Something that the game does really well though would be its handle on comedy. Despite the serious nature of the crimes and the overall story, it manages to strike a nice balance with its comedy, throwing in the stupid joke here and there to keep things lighthearted. This is something that Ace Attorney also does really well, it’s yet another area where you can see the inspiration.
On the graphical side of things, the game does have some good art to it. The character designs are vibrant and detailed, yet do a great job helping to establish the game’s older setting. Similar things can be said about the background art and CGs. In fact, the game has a ton of these CGs, some of which are expertly used to depict action scenes. The music may not be as impressive, but it at least doesn’t get tiring to listen to on loop like a lot of other visual novels.
So overall, I’d have to say that Master Magistrate is deserving of a light recommendation. It may not be on par with an Ace Attorney game, but it’s a fun enough visual novel in its own right and one that actually has some good effort put into it. The visuals are great, the gameplay is simple, yet fun to play around with, and the story is pretty interesting too, and with a nice touch of comedy at that. I wouldn’t say it’s an immediate buy, but if you’re a fan of similar visual novels, it’s definitely worth the look if you can catch it on sale.
You can buy Master Magistrate on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.