It’s time to take a look at the start of the Professor Layton prequel trilogy! It’s always fun to see the characters first meeting up so I was ready for the big Layton/Luke team up. There’s no chance for them to fight as in most classic prequels, but Luke did manage to be rather mysterious for a little while. Aside from a dreadfully terrible ending that makes you want to delete the game, this is another solid title in the consistent series. It always reminds me of how puzzles are actually a lot of fun if they’re handled correctly.
Layton may be a mild mannered professor during the day, but he is also a master sleuth and archaeologist. He receives a letter from an old friend of his requesting some help. As he is about to head off, a girl named Emmy shows up and claims she is now his assistant. Layton tries to get out of this situation, but she won’t take no for an answer. The two of them head to the town where a giant monster shows up and knocks over a lot of buildings. Clearly this is an enemy that Layton is not going to want to underestimate, but is there really a monster or is it just a fake? A kid named Luke seems to be able to predict whenever it will appear which is rather suspect. Between the suspicious mayor, the underground gangs, and the corrupt police, Layton will have his work cut out for him.
Emmy’s a great addition to the cast in this game. I like her more than her current timeline counterpart and the fact that she can fight is really great. We get several cutscenes of her taking down gangs and defending Layton. A gentleman resorts to violence as a last resort of course and as such Layton doesn’t have a whole lot of combat training. I’m definitely going to be interested in seeing why she decides to leave Layton by the end of the trilogy. Maybe she’ll end up appearing in the new 3DS game that is coming out soon.
Layton is a solid main character as always. He stays firm even as he gets threatened by various characters. He’s always tipping his cap when greeting others which is nice of him and has many plans at the ready. Villains rarely catch him off guard. There’s not much more to say about him that I haven’t already said in the older games. Luke is also pretty similar to the other games even though he is quite a bit younger. He’s not really ready to solve too many puzzles this time around, but always manages to try his best regardless. Luke’s father didn’t look very good the whole time. He just seems awfully shady without and never seems like a nice guy. Everything is a mystery though so keep an open mind.
The graphics are pretty good of course. As always we get a number of fully animated cutscenes at the ready which was great. The fact that we had multiple action scenes during them was also pretty neat. The scene of the monster destroying the town of Emmy comboing the gang were both quite exciting. I’d also say that the soundtrack is pretty good, but I’d like some new themes. I felt like they were all recycled from previous games. I can get the nostalgia appeal of course, but new themes help to keep the games fresh and relying on old ones can be a bit lazy.
I enjoyed the array of puzzles. A lot of them follow the same style as older ones, but there are some new ones as well. It’s not as if there are a whole lot of different ways to make a puzzle after all so you’ll inevitably have some recycled ones. Still, they’re always enjoyable to get through and the game does its best to make them all different in some way or another. The game will last you around 12 hours and there is a lot of replay value as you work to solve the rest of the puzzles and complete the minigames. It’ll probably take you around 20-30 hours to do all of that so it’s really worth the price. Even without the replay value, the main game has a lot of value.
Unfortunately there is one thing that holds the game back…the ending. Spoilers will commence so skip this paragraph if you want to avoid that. I always figured that the mysterious monster wasn’t actually a monster so that was no big deal. If anything, I was surprised we got a monster at all, but it turns out that there was one hanging around. He was fighting the robot at night and immense plot hax made this look like a giant monster to the audience. Honestly, the game didn’t try too hard with this moment as there’s just no way it could have happened. Beyond that, the big issue is that at the end the monster dies from overexerting itself. It keeps hitting the walls of the town until it finally shatters them and the little girl is saved from her disease. It’s an emotional tale, but why did the monster have to die? He should have lived and then the ending would have been perfect. As it is, the story took a rather gritty turn there and instantly made this the worst of the Layton adventures. It really is a shame since the rest of the game is so solid, but I couldn’t overlook this. The game crossed a line that it should not have crossed.
The game is definitely leading up to something big in the next one as the villain gets an after credits scene. He’s not bad so far and should make for a good antagonist. I prefer him to the guy from the first two games, but Future Luke is still the best villain in the series. I aim to get the next game fairly soon so prepare for that, it shall be Epic! There’s not much more to say about the game. The gameplay is all as streamlined as it can be at this point and you can tell that the company is very experienced with the Layton game. It’s easy to pick up and play at any time and while the story is fairly long it never gets dull. Something is always happening.
Overall, This game is a lot more low key than the last one as this is only the start of the trilogy. It still gets off to a more exciting start than the first ever Layton though. Unfortunately the gritty ending does shave off 2 whole stars from the game. An ending is supposed to make you feel glad that you played the whole game, not make you shake your head in disbelief. I’m confident that the next two games will go back to the quality that I’ve come to expect though as the rest of the game is quite sound. I’d still recommend this game to all gamers, just watch out for the ending. See how many puzzles you can solve before you have to resort to the hint coins. I’d be immensely impressed if anyone could solve all of the main puzzles without hint coins since that honestly seems almost impossible. Before the next Layton game, it’s going to be time to play something a little less intellectually stimulating.