At first glance, Devil's Attorney [$1.99] might seem like a shameless Phoenix Wright clone. You do play a defense attorney embroiled in courtroom drama, but unlike the naïve and justice-driven Phoenix, Max McMann is the eponymous devil's attorney. His clients did the crime, and they pay him the big bucks to avoid doing the time. Also unlike Phoenix Wright, Devil's Attorney doesn't take you through adventure-game-style investigations and conversations, but breaks down cases into series of turn-based battles.

In each case, you take on a team of units consisting of witnesses, evidence, and prosecutors in turn-based battles. You fight back against the prosecution's team using an array of courtroom skills. Some skills deal damage, others mitigate the prosecution's defense by lessening their damage, causing witnesses to attack themselves, or neutralizing a specific unit for one turn, and still others increase your case defense. All skills cost varying amounts of action points, and you receive only a teensy amount of AP per turn. Your goal is to determine how to spread your AP across skills in order to knock out the opposing units as efficiently -- and, if you want to collect case bonuses, as quickly -- as possible.

Target evidence first and expert witnesses will drop away. Use the Objection skill to bench a prosecutor whose damage equals her hit points, then bust out Reverse Psychology to make a witnesses with high attacks turn on themselves, eliminating them from the equation. In another instance, you might decide to focus on knocking out a prosecutor who heals her witnesses at the beginning of every round. This particular attorney can't deal damage directly; without her team, she'll concede.

Devil's Attorney gives you a few skills out of the gate. You learn new skills and acquire permanent perks by purchasing furniture, accessories, and decking out your sports car. Material goods add points to one of three skill trees, or grant permanent bonuses such as starting cases with more AP. You'll surely want to buy out everything, but there's a catch. All items fall into categories such as beds, closets, wheels for your car, and so forth. Each category presents three items that function like doors: Once you walk through one, the others close forever. You'll want to deliberate over each and every purchase to make sure you can acquire the skills you feel will best benefit your court strategy.

That emphasis on decision-making, which feeds into character-building, is what makes Devil's Attorney such an addictive game. Each prosecution unit's special abilities, the finite AP at your disposal per round, your particular furniture and accessory choices--all those elements frame each case as a puzzle to be solved, and the puzzle changes based on the skills you pick for your defense toolbox. There is no one surefire solution. There are merely different combinations of skills based on the skills and perks you choose to pursue. Every case is a deeply strategic and satisfying battle, and the victories mean more because you emerged victorious using tools you chose for the job.

Excellent writing and voice-acting adds icing to the gameplay cake. Before each case, Max enters verbal sparring matches against the opposing attorneys. The results are always and humorous. Each conversation also weaves a thread that ties into future encounters with those attorneys, and contributes to an overall story that reveals itself over time. Just a few cases in, I found myself pulling late nights so I could play just one more turn, solve one more case, and because I was eager to play the fly on the wall during Max's next face-off with peers I'd grown to like.

Devil's Attorney's flaws are few but somewhat irksome. Each accessory or furnishing up for grabs describes how it affects various skills, but you can only read descriptions of skills you earn through purchases, not the ones you're given by default. Without being unable to look at certain skills outside of courtroom battles, I found it difficult to determine if a certain perk would benefit me. On a minor note, some players will find the first dozen or so cases simple, but finishing the game unlocks a harder difficulty that should test even the most devious of criminal lawyers.

Like Capcom's courtroom drama, Devil's Attorney is an addictive puzzler whose courtroom metaphor for battle makes for one of the most unique and absorbing games you'll find on mobile or any other platform. Like Max McMann says, morality is a cheap perfume, but his game's already got a perfume, and it's called success.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • JohnnyJ301

    Awesome fun game ! Finished the game on Normal 58 cases later. End trial is very tough. Time to try it on hard mode. I would recommend this game to anyone. It's unique, original and something other than zombies and shooters.

  • sortvind

    this is on my buy list for sure!

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.farraro Eric Farraro

    Unique, original game.  No grinding, no IAP.  I don't know why so many people want to squeeze 10 hours of grindy gameplay out of their $1, but aren't willing to spend a bit more for something original, unique and FUN.

    This game is brilliant, and while it won't take 10 hours to beat, rest assured that you'll get your $3's worth.  The voice acting, gameplay, characters -- hell, even the intro -- are perfect.

  • Karzay

    I love this game. I'm almost finished with my second play through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Lord-Gek-Jordan/1559737263 Tim Lord Gek Jordan

    So how is the replayability?  Is it like you find the one ideal set of skills and are guaranteed a victory or can the defense mix things up in unpredictable ways even if replaying the same case?

    • http://www.facebook.com/eric.farraro Eric Farraro

      I think the cases play out pretty much the same each time, but there's often more efficient ways to complete them.  Three main reasons to replay:

      1. Complete all cases with bonus.  All cases have a bonus for completing under X turns.  While it's generally easy to do this, I have a handful of cases where I wasn't able to.  There's an achievement for completing all 57(?) cases with a bonus.

      2. Hard difficulty.  Haven't tried this yet.  More achievements for completing on hard.

      3. Different skill tree.  There's 3 skill trees to unlock.  While you can unlock most of the skills in the same play-through, I don't think you can unlock ALL of them.  Playing again would allow you to unlock all of them.  Again, there's some achievements for this.

      I wouldn't call it SUPER replayable, but there are a few reasons to play through at least one extra time.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/eric.farraro Eric Farraro

        Also worth mentioning that for better or worse, the small about of randomness in the amount of damage the skills deal actually forces you to adapt your strategy on the fly (and occasionally swear :P)

      • JohnnyJ301

        I had to complete 58 cases, and the final trial. That was on normal mode. I'll definately try this on hard mode.

        I hope they add more content in the future.

  • h_A_Z

    Hands down the best intro to a game on mobile devices ever

    • http://www.facebook.com/m.gusti Muhamad Gusti Muharama

      And how do you feel, not guilty, and how do you feel not guilty..

      the intro music is very good, make me want to hear it over and over

  • Bool Zero

    Loving this game so far! Very fun, addictive and a "one more play, one more case" kind of game!

  • Quorlan

    Hands down the best new game I've played this year. It's almost like playing a trading card game with less complexity but still plenty of depth. Definitely find myself saying "One more case" repeatedly every time I play. Well worth $5. For $3 it's a steal!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Lord-Gek-Jordan/1559737263 Tim Lord Gek Jordan

    So how does the randomness factor besides the damage ranges?

    • http://www.facebook.com/eric.farraro Eric Farraro

      As far as I know, the only randomness is the range of your ability (eg: an ability that does between 1 and 5 damage).  

      It's possible (but I don't think so) that there may be variations in how much health/damage the 'enemies' in the battle have.  Pretty sure it's just the ability damage, though.

  • reasonjp

    The thing for me is that they go to great pains to have a courtroom setup for what is turn based rpg combat. In a 'trial' there's no courtroom drama, nothing made of the story of a trial. It might as well be 'devil's baker' and have the same gameplay about beating bits of bread and cakes for as little as it makes of its premise.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dlcraddock David Craddock

      With all due respect, I think you're going to great pains to over-think a fictional story. Devil's Attorney does nothing any courtroom drama with a humorous bent hasn't done. People care about stories if they care about characters; in playing the game, I did. People like games if they have fun playing them; I did.

      DA's premise is a fine one for a turn-based strategy game: defense and prosecution hammering at each other, with witnesses and evidence boiled down to "units". It's really that simple.

    • Noah

      The best part of the game is the quips Max has with the other attorneys at the start of each case. They're hilarious!

  • Coachflaps

    Does it have subtitles for the voice acting?

    I generally play late at night in bed and don't want to disturb my wife if she's sleeping. I have a gaggle of kids so I always have to keep an ear open for things and can't really use headphones, well at least not until I know they all asleep.

    • http://www.facebook.com/eric.farraro Eric Farraro

      Yes, there are subtitles, but you should some how try and hear the voices too because they're done very well :)

  • Awesomenessprime

    I actually didn't have all that much fun playing this game. It was repetitive and kinda boring to me.

  • gemacx

    I finished it and I'd also give it 4,5/5 stars.
    Not 5/5 because the replay value isnt good enough.

  • Harti

    I wonder what David means with the unlocked difficulty. To be fair, I finished the game on Hard Mode on my first playthrough. I had a look at all the different endings and got every achievement, but there's nothing more :O

  • JohnnyJ301

    Can't get that 80's background music ( the music they play during the case) out of my head !!

  • John Guerry

    Any tips for beating the last case? It's kicking my tail.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dlcraddock David Craddock

      I can help! I need to finish an assignment then I'll write out the strategy I used.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dlcraddock David Craddock

      Okay! Here's the strategy I used. Those of you who haven't finished the game, there be SPOILERS ahead, so read at your own risk.
      *
      *
      *
      The prosecutor brings in new witnesses and evidence every time you take out a witness or evidence, but that's okay. That's what you want. Attack each witness and piece of evidence, focusing all your action points on eliminating them as quickly as possible to avoid taking damage. Repeat this until the prosecutor calls in a witness and evidence that inflict a low amount of damage. The evidence he eventually brought up against me dealt 2 damage, for example; the first piece of evidence had a damage value of 7.Once you get low-damage witnesses and evidence, use defensive skills such as Hypnotize and Tamper with Evidence to drain their damage down to zero. Then use any skill points you have left over to chip away at the prosecutor. Repeat this round after round until the prosecutor drops out, at which point the rest of the team falls with him.This works because the prosecutor CANNOT attack you. There's no case bonus so time isn't an issue. I used Intimidate on him to cut his HP in half, which sped things up, but you don't need to do that. As long as you're not taking damage from his witness/evidence team, you can take as many rounds as you need to finish him off.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dlcraddock David Craddock

        I broke that into paragraphs, but Disqus doesn't like formatting, I guess. Sorry for the wall o' text.

      • Himmat Singh

        Hey David, I used the exact same strategy to beat the final case on hard difficulty, first time round. Funny how I think I spent a lot of time on case 56, but the next two were not so tough. 

        PS: A similar strategy can also work in previous levels, albeit to a lesser extent.

    • http://www.mediocreminds.com Binkley

      If you have Intimidate, use it a soon as possible to drop the boss 50%. Then it's about grinding it out until you can beat the boss. (If you have Tirade this won't be that long.) Your goal is to keep low damage units (like 1, 1-2, etc.) on the board and then mitigate the damage of those people. Ideally you want a board where there's like 3 boosters (probably Witness Protection so there's no damage increase) and 1 unit you can de-buff.

  • https://www.facebook.com/busta.cat.9?ref=ts&fref=ts Busta

    Fun game that's paw-friendly. Busta cat gives it 2 paws up!

  • Adveritas

    Incorrect use of the word eponymous but I understand what you mean. I don't like this type of game but this looks like it will be an exception.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dlcraddock David Craddock

      The word fits, albeit loosely.

      eponymous: adj. (of a person) being the person after whom a literary work, film, etc, is named: the eponymous heroine in the film of Jane Eyre

  • Qwahchees

    Brilliant. Just finished it and found it easy.

  • Sophie Georgopoulos

    You know, I've internally joked that we play Kristoph Gavin's all-American, less charismatic counter-part in this game. It's a lot like a turn based rpg, you know.

Devil's Attorney Reviewed by David Craddock on . Rating: 4.5