Professor Layton & The Lost Future review

October 31, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Posted in DS Review | Leave a comment
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The canny Professor returns to solve a third mystery. England’s Prime Minister has been kidnapped and is being held somewhere in the future. Layton and his apprentice, Luke will have to have their wits about them if they’re to unwind this time-travelling tale.

Title: Professor Layton & The Lost Future

Format: Nintendo DS

Developed by: Level 5

Published by: Nintendo

Genre: Investigation

 

In a climate where studios have been closing left, right and centre, Level 5 have bucked the trend. Going from an unknown start-up company with a few staff, to an internationally renowned studio in less than a decade, they have built up a portfolio full of critically and commercially successful titles. One of their biggest hits has been the Professor Layton franchise, which has been a huge success worldwide.

 

Each game in the series follows Professor Layton as he tries to unravel various mysteries, while solving a mixture of logic, mathematical and visual puzzles along the way. Cracking these puzzles awards the player a score based on how quickly they can find the right answer, and some will also give out items that fit into one of the game’s three mini-games (basically expanded puzzles). Searching for these, often hard to find, puzzles and figuring out the answer is incredibly satisfying. Especially for the puzzles that try to throw the player off the scent with an elaborate setup, when the answer is amazingly straightforward.

 

The third game in the series, Professor Layton and the Lost Future, continues the tradition of clever puzzles, charming presentation and excellent writing. The story for this entry is the best yet: the Prime Minister of England is missing after a demonstration of a working time-machine does awry and it’s up to the Professor to find him. Not long after the accident, Professor Layton and his side-kick Luke receive a mysterious letter from someone claiming to be Luke ten year in the future. They soon find themselves whisked through time into a bleak London mired in corruption and ruled over by an evil figure – Professor Layton himself.

 

The plot twists and turns on the way to wrapping up not only the secret behind the Professor’s strange change of heart and the whereabouts of the Prime Minister, but also a story arc that has spanned the last two games. Without wishing to spoil anything, I can say that Level 5 have managed to dream up a gripping ending, which ties everything together nicely, while keeping the door open for further adventures.

 

In terms of gameplay and presentation, Level 5 have chosen to abide by the old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Anyone who has played one of the previous two games will know exactly what to expect; newcomers needn’t worry as it is all very simple to play. The various beautifully drawn locales can be explored by tapping at the scenery with the DS stylus, like any other point & click adventure game. Some of the more popular puzzle types from the other games make a return here, but the majority feel completely new.

 

As per usual there are three expanded puzzles that provide a nice diversion from the main story. This time around there are sticker albums to fill in, a wind-up car to direct around a hazardous course, and a parrot that has to be bounced along a path to make a delivery. These three are the longest side quests yet, with dozens of individual puzzles to be unlocked as the game goes on.

 

As mentioned above, this new title doesn’t do anything new aside from little tweaks here and there (a new ‘super-hint’ can be used if anyone gets really stuck on a puzzle). That means fans of the series will be instantly hooked; those that disliked the other games, won’t find anything new to like about this one. Newcomers should probably hunt for the previous games (Curious Village and Pandora’s Box), to get up to speed on the story and experience the excellent puzzles they can offer. The series sits near the top of the list of best games on the DS for good reason: Layton’s games are as charming, laid-back and well presented as the good Professor himself, not to mention a fierce cerebral challenge for any brain.

 

With another trilogy of games on the way (not including a crossover with the Phoenix Wright franchise), plus a full-length Anime movie available, there has never been a better time for people to jump into Professor Layton’s world.

 

8 /10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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