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5 Reviews

Professor Layton and the Lost Future

Better Layton never...

October bears special significance for time travellers. On 26 October 1985 (just 25 years shy of Lost Future's arrival), Marty McFly hopped into Doc Brown's DeLorean DMC-12 and set off to rewrite his future.

Time travel is catnip for storytellers. A spin of a dial whisks us forward to brave new worlds, or back to slightly cowardly old ones. Characters can revisit their lives in a memory made flesh or venture forth and stare their future in the eye.

Alternatively you can shack up with your mum and show off on guitar. This, however, is not Layton's style.

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No, our favourite gentleman detective has better things to do. He'd certainly never be seen with anyone as unsightly as Christopher Lloyd.

He's hot on the trail of a future gone AWOL after receiving a cry for help, seemingly sent from Luke ten years in the future.

Luke of the present is confused. Considering he's spent two games being baffled, the only way for Level-5 to evolve the character was to have him baffle himself.

Factor in an exploding time machine and the apparent death of a prime minister and Last Future is good to go.

Compared to Pandora's Box's plodding opening hours, this Layton gets into top gear remarkably quickly.

The screen of mysteries - where overarching plot strands are recorded - fills at an alarming rate as Layton and Luke venture down the rabbit hole into the London of the future.

The intervening ten years have been odd, transforming the capital into a steampunky citadel overrun with sharp-dressing gangsters and terrified locals.

With the eventual reveal of an apparently evil Future Layton, Last Future digs its claws in tight.

FUTURE PROOF
Sherlock Holmesing about in St Mystere and Folsense felt like slightly hipper editions of Midsomer Murders. Last Future, on the other hand, embraces the cult of Layton1 for a more dramatic yarn.

Time travel leads to fun narrative gimmickry - as pasts, presents and futures intertwine, a fuller picture of Layton is painted.

How did Layton get his hat? What gave Don Paolo his penchant for dressing up as little girls? And does Layton ever get *gulp*... frisky?

This is pure unmitigated fan service, Layton nerdery of the highest order. And we absolutely love it.

Even without fan-pleasing revelations we're happy to be immersed back in the Laytonverse. Here the locals ooze European oddness: bodies like misshapen potatoes, more beard than face (and that's just the women...).

And yes, whatever has happened in the missing ten years, it clearly hasn't affected the accordion industry. Composer Tomohito Nishiura continues to peddle his distinct brand of wheezing tunery, although Last Future does boast entirely new themes. It's safe for ears to come out from behind the sofa.

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Puzzles are still delightful. They're like expensive hand-crafted chocolates, each hiding mental nourishment behind a lovingly crafted shell. Quirky illustrations invigorate riddles and odd details abound.

During Layton's banana skin maze routine look for his tiny beads of perspiration and try not to grin.

Certain chocs inevitably hide rock hard nuts (after two games the 'save the X' block-sliding puzzles still make our brains scream), but Level-5 know to ease us in with gooey centres [You're giving us metaphorical diabetes - Health Ed].

HISTORY REPEATING?
Following behind two bumper puzzle compendiums inevitably leads to some deja vu. If the puzzles are all new, their formats are not.

We're sure we've built Layton's hat out of Tetris blocks several times before and there's only so many times a man is willing to follow cryptic map directions before he invests in an iPhone and Google Maps.

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