Level-5 Professor Layton and the Curious Village
- Excellent narrative, extra games are fun to play
- Some puzzles are ridiculously hard to solve, not very child friendly
The overall vibe of the game is charming and immensely likeable and the basic game mechanic is solid. Even if the uneven difficulty robs the game of some of its fun and the slow, methodical pacing might lull some gamers to sleep, for puzzle lovers and brainy gamers, Professor Layton definitely has a lot to offer.
Price$ 54.95 (AUD)
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Put on your thinking caps and get ready to strain your brain: Professor Layton and the Curious Village is one perplexing puzzler!
When a wealthy man dies and leaves behind a will that points to a hidden treasure, Professor Layton and his trusty apprentice Luke are called to the village of St. Mystere to help crack the case. But they quickly learn that the town is full of other secrets just waiting to be discovered.
The narrative powering Professor Layton is definitely one of the game's strong points. The art style is eye-catching and brings to mind the classic animated film 'The Triplets of Bellville'; it definitely serves as a nice platform on which the game's many mysteries are built. Besides the main mystery of the hidden treasure, there are all sorts of other secrets to unearth in the town of St. Mystere. What sort of creature is haunting the clock tower? Is there a murderer on the loose? And how do these mysteries relate to the dead man's treasure?
In order to get to the bottom of these confounding conundrums, you have to solve a variety of logic puzzles. Most are presented to you by the town's interesting cast of characters but others are hidden around the levels; you can find them by tapping around the various levels with your stylus. Doing so also unearths clue coins which let you buy hints that can give you a leg up on difficult puzzles, and you'll need every single one because some of the puzzles in Professor Layton are ridiculously difficult.
And really, that's the game's biggest fault: some puzzles are fairly easy and can be solved in a matter of seconds but there are some puzzles that will confound you for long stretches; worse yet, they're sometimes so tedious that it almost felt like we were doing homework. Take the clock puzzle, for example: you have to count the number of instances that the same three digits will appear in a row; 10 o'clock, with its three concurrent zeros, would count as two (once in the morning and once in the evening). It sounds straightforward but we had put the game down, got out a pad of paper and did some calculations. By the time we solved the puzzle, we were more relieved than satisfied.
Compounding the problem is the fact that you are required to solve a specific number of puzzles in order to progress the plot at certain points, which is a frustrating roadblock. Also, considering the art style, it's easy to assume that the game will be kid-friendly, but really, it's not: unless the child in question is a genuine prodigy, they will probably struggle. Then again, we have been outwitted by kids in the past, so maybe we're wrong on that count.
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For all its frustrations, Professor Layton does have its merits. The overall vibe of the game is charming and immensely likeable and the basic game mechanic is solid. There is also a ton of things to do: aside from the puzzles, there are other neat extras that we'll let you discover on your own. Even if the uneven difficulty robs the game of some of its fun and the slow, methodical pacing might lull some gamers to sleep, for puzzle lovers and brainy gamers, Professor Layton definitely has a lot to offer. We really hope the game makes the transition to the Wii someday as well; as nice as the DS version is, it would be great to play on a big screen, solving puzzles with friends.
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