Review: Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Posted 10 Jan 2009 at 20:01 by Derek Wheatley
|"It may seem weird that every citizen offers you many puzzles constantly, but it is explained towards the end."|
In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, you assume the role of, surprisingly enough, Professor Layton. As well as his young assistant, Luke. In the village of St. Mystere, a wealthy baron has passed away, his last will and testament have his family and the police baffled, thus Layton is called in to help solve the mystery of St. Mystere. The key to the inheritance is the Golden Apple, hidden somewhere in the village, and whoever finds it receives the baron's entire estate.
Professor Layton is controlled completely by the touch screen. Each part of the town you explore is displayed as a flat image, which with a tap on the screen will show you the directions you can move and the doors you may enter. The upper screen is used for the map and explanations of the puzzle you are currently working on.
Your quest is split up into little puzzles which the inhabitants of St. Mystere challenge you to, sometimes to test your wisdom, other times in exchange for some information. It may seem weird that every citizen offers you many puzzles constantly, but it is explained towards the end. The majority of puzzles are accomplished by tapping on certain objects or dragging objects to other positions. Other puzzles ask for a numerical input similar to the Brain Training games. Completion of puzzles will earn you Picarats, which decrease to a certain number should you fail enough attempts. They don't seem to be any use in the game. But the instructions book says if you earn enough something good will happen when you complete the game. As well as Picarats, you can get furniture and "body parts" from completing puzzles. The furniture is to decorate Layton and Luke's hotel room to build up their happiness meter, and the "body parts" help build a mechanical creature to help you find some secrets as your progress.
If you are a fan of solving puzzles, even little ones here and there, then Professor Layton is a sound purchase for you, it is full of challenging experiences throughout. Some of you may even recognise from early life. One I recognised was the moving of some animals (in this case some sheep and some wolves) across a river. However there was a twist of if I left too many wolves with few chicken they would eat them and I would have to start again. It builds upon fond memories with an extra element of strategy added in for your pleasure. Sadly I found the game too short, I'm not sure if it was because I was too brainy (I admit I used quite a few hint coins towards the end), but I managed to complete the main quest in little over ten hours. Which was most disappointing because I really enjoyed it. However it is said that a sequel is in the works, actually hinted in the game itself – this could be the start of a refreshing new series, and hopefully the following game or games will last a bit longer.
Hidden around the town are puzzles also, normally discovered by tapping on an item, which suddenly reminds one of a puzzle and unleashes it upon the other ("Look at that chair, that reminds me of a puzzle. Have you heard of this one before?") Also hidden are "hint coins" which can be exchanged for hints should you find a puzzle a trifle troublesome. Both hidden puzzles and hint coins can be found by random tapping of the screen, which I found most effective.
Professor Layton has some nice simple chimes for the backgrounds, with different sounds when you're indoors and during puzzles. Voice acting is implemented in the game, you'll mainly notice it when Layton or Luke speak after solving or failing to solve a puzzle. It's also used in the animé cut scenes featured around the game. Good looking as they are, almost looked like they were taken from a movie, sadly they are very rare, about 3-4 in the entire game.
Each screen is a pre-rendered background, which are nicely detailed with rich colours. The characters you meet are imposed on top, in a bright cartoon fashion. The same applies to some puzzles if they involve animals or many moving pieces. If it's something simple looking like matchsticks, do not expect the DS to be pushed to its graphical limits.
When you complete a puzzle it is saved in your puzzle index, so you can replay them whenever you wish, or challenge friends and family to solve what you have already solved. Professor Layton takes advantage of the wi-fi connection, having a weekly puzzle download on offer. As for reply value, once you've completed the main game once, there doesn't feel much point of replaying the game again, as there is no other way you can try playing the game except solving the puzzles that little bit quicker.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Short, but a very challenging and fun game.
Downloading puzzles extends lifespan
Perhaps too challenging at times
Once you've done it once, you won't really want to do it again.
Way too short