#775 Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Posted: 13th September 2011 by Mulholland in Games
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84th game played so far

Genre: Puzzle/Adventure
Platform: Nintendo DS
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Level-5
Publisher: Level-5

One of the more interesting new DS franchises is Professor Layton. A traveling puzzle solver, the professor tries to find treasure and solve mysteries through… solving puzzles. Because THAT is how you should apprehend criminals.

It seems like a simple idea, but with over 100 puzzles per game, you  know there has to be a bit more to the game to keep going. Add to that partial voice acting, and you know you get an interesting game, surely? With the size of the series, it seems like they’ve reached something.

Our Thoughts

I do love a good puzzle game; and I think we can say with quite a deal of conviction that this is definitely a good puzzle game.

The in-game puzzles are numerous and cross a large number of genres with a good spread along the difficulty curve plus the overarching puzzle of the village and the golden apple is also incredibly engaging. Although you can decently beat the game in 5-6 hours there is a great degree of replay value since you will forget the solutions to many of the early puzzles.

What helps with keeping the game interesting is the adventure element. Rather than a succession of puzzles, as we saw with The 7th Guest a short while ago, the puzzles need to be found and those, as well as other clues and hint coins, are hidden around the world you need to search. It also helps that whilst there are many puzzles that have to be solved in order to progress the plot there are so many extra ones to be found in the town’s nooks and crannies that it really does make sense to explore. Especially when you realise that at times, you have to get a certain amount of puzzles completed to proceed.

It helps that, as said, the puzzles are simply fun and diverse enough. Some puzzles are fairer than others – a number of them require the kind of lateral thinking that might seem like cheating sometimes, depending on the circumstances the designers thought of – but usually the answers make sense and can be derived.

Aside from the puzzles, which are integral to the success of the games, I did fall in love with the art style. Professor Layton’s design is already on the path towards iconic status, but there is a lot can be said for how the world of St Mystere looks. The village’s characters are drawn mostly in caricature reminiscent of French animation such as The Triplets of Bellville which, considering the game is set in France, is brilliantly apt. It is one of those touches in the games that won’t be seen by all gamers but is greatly appreciated by those who notice. And it looks lovely, and somewhat right. The slightly stylized looks allows for great characterizations, meaning that you get a feel of the character very early. Considering the amount of characters you meet, it’s very useful.

All in all, the actual animations are simple – the puzzles don’t need it and the main game doesn’t use much. Instead the game has a lot of hand drawn backgrounds which look gorgeous and provide you with enough details to allow quite a bit of exploration. There are, however, some fully animated sequences which includes a really cool one involving a rogue Ferris wheel (something which was missing from Trauma Center if we’re being honest). It is a lot more animated, that’s true. Not complicated, but still pretty.

The game is also incredibly addictive; I’m actually trying to do a few more puzzles at the moment. I want to finish the game too. It has also helped whet my appetite so much that I will, once I start earning, be investing in the other titles in the series. Who knows, I may even grab a copy of the film. What helps here is that it’s a good ‘background’ game. You don’t have to keep playing because of action going on around you; instead you can just do a puzzle when you feel like it.

Final Thoughts

Is it a game I’ll play again frequently? Maybe not too much, but I’ll certainly give it another go every once in a while. The puzzles are good fun – not too simple, but solvable – and there’s a good hint system to help you should you need it.

The game is pretty and has an engaging storyline, and is unique enough to really be worth giving a go when you have the chance.

  1. […] you can try to puzzle them all out – there’s some great games in there – back to Professor Layton and Legend of Zelda, and new series like de Blob, F.E.A.R. and Uncharted… Expect some of […]

  2. […] out there) may remember we’ve covered the charming Professor Layton’s first game, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, some time […]