2 Reviews

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Grey matter has never been so colourful

Professor Layton is full of mysteries. You have St. Mystere, the curious village of the game's title. That's a given. Then you've got the mystery surrounding the Prof's assistant, Luke - what's Layton got on this kid that he has to follow him around? And finally, why has one of the best DS titles of the year taken so long to make its way over here?

The answer? We'll never know. Rest easy in the fact that it's worth the wait: Layton is a very special game. On one hand, it couldn't really have happened without the casual brain training craze - it's based on the puzzles of Japanese academic Akira Tago - and yet it takes the genre in a new direction because it's an actual game.

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The temptation must have been there to take Tago's works - puzzles ranging from riddles to code-breaking exercises - and shove them into a simple compilation. Instead, Level-5 have heaped on the love, crafting an engrossing mystery in which to set the puzzles. And they've done it with flawless presentation.

Deep thought
There's too much variety within the 135 puzzles to list every control scheme, but whether the conundrum requires a text answer or doodles, the stylus work is perfect. You'll never mis-answer by accident; if Layton or Luke's grumpy fail face appears, there's a hole in your logic.

The puzzle selection is fresh. Playing through all 135, we counted only five or so that we'd heard before, picking up countless new brain-molesters along the way that we can't wait to try out on non-gamer friends. One or two caused a few arguments within the team over whether or not they'd been worded as well as they could have been, but this is nit-picking.

If there is a complaint, it's that once you've seen everything there is in St. Mystere, there's little impetus to return. Although charmingly realised, the setting is redundant without the puzzles.

Sure, you've got a weekly downloadable puzzle to anticipate, but once the mystery's solved you'll just have to join NGamer in putting on a brave face and patiently waiting for the two sequels. Enjoy it while it lasts.

The verdict

So long, Kageyama! Sayonara, Kawashima! There's a new professor on the block, and he's got the gaming smarts to match his braining smarts.

8.6
Format
Nintendo DS
Developer
System 3
Publisher
Level 5
Genre
Puzzle, Adventure

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