In this new addition to the popular puzzle solving series, Professor Layton returns with a new mystery bringing him to the heart of Misthallery, a small town experiencing destruction at the hands of a mysterious Specter. The storyline for this title actually brings us back to the beginning of the partnership with Professor Layton and his student Luke Triton, a time when Luke was just a young boy facing a most troubling problem and needing help. Following in the styles of the previous releases in the series, you will join Professor Layton, Emmy Altava and Luke Triton in a puzzle extravaganza as you explore the town of Misthallery, interview the townsfolk and discover the origin of the mysterious specter and hopefully bring peace back to Misthallery.
The designers of the game have carried on with the great cartoon styling of the Professor Layton series that I both enjoy and come to expect from this title. The game features some rich and vibrant cinematic graphics during the game opener and the beginnings of each chapter with the rest of the game design comprised of abundantly detailed background images that contain a few moving features to give the scene life such as the town citizens, an animal or two running across the screen or possibly a water feature etc.
The puzzle graphics are simplistic and don’t offer the same richness as the gameplay or cut scene graphics. They are usually basic drawings that allow you to visualize the problem at hand. For example, they can be maps for puzzles where you have to find the shortest route or an image of a clock for a clock puzzle. At times they can be interactive where some features can be moved, such as the puzzle where you have to get the animals across the water without certain combinations being left together. The animals can be moved onto the raft, the raft moves across the water and the animals will run away or chase one another if you have made a mistake. All in all, there really wasn’t a need to make the images overly complicated and with too much detail because in the end they certainly do their job.
The sound department for the game is well rounded with strong voice acting through the cut scenes that add a special charm to the game as it is like listening to an audio book with the story being read aloud and with feeling. The music and sound effects add to the fullness of the audio component of the game and are found throughout, providing a nice and steady background to the gameplay. The background music though a little gloomy and ominous at time is fitting to the mood of the game and truly captures the feel of the investigation.
Upon receiving a strange letter asking for help from an old friend, Clark Triton, Professor Layton accompanied by his new assistant Emmy Altava rush to Misthallery to investigate. Once in Misthallery, Professor Layton meets up with Clark and discovers it is actually his son Luke Triton who has sent the letter. After hearing Luke’s information about the Specter, its strange history with the town and Luke’s uncanny ability to predict the appearance and location of the Specter, Professor Layton invites Luke to take part in the investigation and so the story begins.
To investigate the origins of the mysterious Specter you will need to move around the town of Misthallery. This is accomplished by tapping on the shoe icon and selecting the direction of travel. The top screen will show you a map identifying your current location and the direction of your current objective. When you come to a new location it is important to thoroughly search the area to gather information that will help you progress through the story. You may need to return to areas in the game that you have already searched as things may have changed in these locations as the story progresses.
Puzzles are everywhere throughout the game. The main puzzles are story line puzzles which you come across through your investigation by speaking with the citizens of Misthallery. The citizens may have information for you only if you can solve their puzzle or they might just want to see if you are as good at puzzle solving as you say you are. Other puzzles can be hidden throughout each location and others may come up as you investigate an object that triggers a memory of a puzzle for Professor Layton, Luke or Emmy. The puzzles range from brain teasers to logic problems and also vary in difficulty. The harder the puzzle the more picarats (points) they will be worth. If you answer successfully on your first try you will get the full value of the picarats. Each time you get a wrong answer the number of picarats will decrease. Ultimately solving the puzzle on the first attempt is the goal but earning as many picarats as possible will allow you to unlock more bonus content at the end of the game.
The game provides a few features that will help you through difficult puzzles including hint coins and a memo option on the puzzle screen that lets you work out possible solutions above the problems image. The memo screen really comes in handy for puzzles that require calculations or also visual puzzles that require you to mark out shortest routes or even where you would draw lines to separate items into particular groups. Hint coins are hidden throughout the locations that you will visit. Making sure you tap everywhere with the stylus helps ensure you will collect as many hint coins as possible. If you are completely stumped with the puzzle you can spend a hint coin to obtain a hint or guidance with a puzzle. The hints for the most part are helpful in solving the puzzle, however, sometimes they can be similar to the free hint that you get when you get a puzzle wrong for the first time, which was a little frustrating as hint coins are limited in the game and you want to use them sparingly.
Throughout the game you may miss or skip some puzzles in certain areas but still have moved on to the next chapter of the story. In order to keep the storyline moving, your missed puzzles are stored away with Keats the cat, keeper of puzzles. When you are ready to attempt these puzzles, you need only find Keats and they will be retrieved for you.
As you progress through the story you will also unlock additional puzzle games that can be accessed through Professor Layton’s Trunk. These include Toy Train, Fish and Puppet Theatre. During gameplay you will collect tracks, new fish tanks and lost script words for the puppet theatre. The toy train game requires you to lay down tracks in a certain arrangement to allow the train to travel from point A to point B without running out of fuel. The fish game asks you to lay down bubbles around the tank. If the bubbles have been put in the right places the fish will swim until they bounce off of the bubbles and be propelled in a new direction until they hit another surface or collect all the coins in the tank in a specified amount of time. Lastly, in the puppet theatre game, you will direct the puppets on stage by filling in the missing gaps of their script with the words you have collected.
The title also offers a standalone game London Life. In London Life, you play a character that has just arrived to a new town Little London to stay. The whole premise of the game revolves around helping your fellow citizens with tasks, finding employment, earning money and using these funds to upgrade your wardrobe as well as your homes furnishings. You will need to complete some tasks in order such as working up job by job in the corporate ladder and in this game the clothes you wear do make a difference (some establishments will only grant you access once you have the right clothing on). Overall, the game is simplistic in nature, but is a lot of fun and I found myself lost in the game for a few hours at a time.
The addition of the bonus games and London Life was a nice touch as it gave you alternative play options if you get stuck in the game or if you just wanted a change of pace.
This title is jammed pack with features that will keep you playing long into the night including an exciting and captivating storyline, a variety of mind boggling puzzles, bonus puzzle games that entice you to keep playing to collect the required items and of course the addition of London Life a game that stands on its own. Thus making this game a fantastic title for the puzzle enthusiast in your family.