Professor Layton and the Lost Future – Review

Gaming

Game Name: Professor Layton and the Lost Future

(Professor Layton and the Unwound Future *USA Title*)
Platform(s): Nintendo DS
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): Level 5
Genre(s): Puzzle, Adventure
Release Date: September 12, 2010 (US) October 21, 2010 (AU)
October 22,2010 (EU)
Price: $29.99

Professor Layton and his young apprentice Luke have became household names to gamers all over the world now due to the hugely popular titles that have released within the past few years for the Nintendo DS. With mind-bending puzzles and an engrossing story in each entry so far the Layton games have been one of Nintendo’s biggest success stories this generation. Well, another year, another Layton and this outing takes the Professor out of London and into the future with the appropriately titled “Professor Layton and the Lost Future”. So here is my review of how this one plays out and if it lives up to the previous entries in the series.


Story
Without a doubt anybody who plays the Layton series knows that the main course in the games is the deep storytelling and mysteries that play out. Everyone has a puzzle for you to solve it seems and Lost Future works the same as far as the core elements go. You start out the story with Luke receiving a letter from a future version of himself dated 10 years into the future. Shortly after, the duo reach their destination to watch a demonstration for a scientists time machine. The Prime Minister is volunteered by the scientist to be the first test subject so the Prime Minister willingly agrees as Layton and Luke watch from afar with the rest of the crowd. Suddenly, an explosion happens leaving the area in panic as the scientist and the Prime Minister have now disappeared. Professor Layton takes the case to solve what exactly went down as well as the mystery behind the “futuristic” letter and many other objectives that open throughout the game that all connect for a massive and emotional roller coaster of a story.

With over 12 chapters and constant surprises and twists throughout, Lost Future packs a huge punch to the series and goes down at least to myself as the best in the series story wise. There is just so much character development with the familiar faces of the story that it was hard to even take a small break from the game as every cutscene felt like a reward. Fans of the series will see a few returning faces as well as many brand new characters, each with their own bit of charm. It is rare when a game lives up all the way to the end as far as story goes, but Layton does it again and does a “smashing” job of pulling it off as well.

Gameplay
Now that you should have a good idea about the story in the game, the next topic is how the game plays. The standard “I need Help, do this puzzle” logic still applies in most cases so nothing really has changed in that area. Most puzzles consist of logic, math, or brain teasers where you must try to solve the puzzle at hand and earn as many “picarats” as possible. If you are new to the Layton series, picarats are the point/currency system within the game.

The difficulty really is set by how smart the player is and how well you pay attention to detail. Some puzzles or riddles are just more of trick questions with an obvious answer, while others might require you to break out your math skills or think hard to use common sense to get an answer. Either way, this is all done via the touchscreen and a drawing tool which lets you write on the screen and help crack even the toughest of riddles without having to pull out a pen and paper. Hint Coins are also scattered all over London and can be obtained by tapping various areas on the screen. Hints are helpful for the most part, and the Super Hint basically puts the answer right in your fac but due to the limited amount of hint coins, these all need to be used very strategically as the difficulty of riddles can jump up without warning and left my mind twisted quite a few times during my play-through. The good news is that the tools given are extremely useful and as I mentioned earlier, each puzzle completed feels rewarding every time.

Outside of the puzzles there is also a good portion of London set out to explore. Using the touchscreen players must tap on townsfolk to gather clues or open puzzles to fully progress. Be prepared for the usual backtracking as well as the more you progress throughout the story, the more it is needed to cover areas with the new information you learn in the plot.

As you move on through the game, solving puzzle left and right, you will also begin collecting items for mini-games which can be accessed in Layton’s trunk at any time on the bottom screen. The first of these is a sticker book where you must paste the appropriate image to best match the story. Finding all the stickers will complete the story and in a way, this side game is quite interesting in itself.

The next is a toy car which course can be unlocked for which allows Layton and Luke to be guided to a certain destination by guiding arrows along a set path. Finally, the parrot mini-game is where you train a parrot to carry items to a character using ropes and perches. All of these are fun and yet another reason to progress to fully complete all three modes.

As far as replay value goes, once you finish the main quest, that is really about it for the story. Just because that section is over though does not mean the game has to end though, as I spent many hours going back and performing newer and more difficult puzzles and brainteasers. There are also many other challenges, stories, and other content that should squeeze a few more hours out of the game.

Graphics/Audio
There really was not much of a visual difference between Lost Future and any of the other Layton games, but as they say, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Each character within the game add a lot of booming life to the game and each have their own personality so in some ways it feels like you get to know or can even relate to some of the characters. I am also a fan of the 2D art-style and it looks just as vibrant and crisp and the game’s predecessors.

The music in the game is also done brilliantly as it might not be too much different from other Layton titles, it still retains every bit of charm and still feels relevant for this entry. Layton and Luke sound pretty much the same as well and all of the voice acting was near perfection. Many of the smaller characters have voices that fit them perfectly adding humor and emotion when needed. I guess that is where the emotion can best be felt in this title thinking back, as the music and the voice acting together providing the appropriate atmosphere to set up for whatever was going down in the game and made this title so easy to follow.

Overall
Professor Layton and the Lost Future doesn’t really change much for the series but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. With one of the best stories on the hand-held period and puzzles that provide challenge yet always feel enjoyable, this to me was the best of the series so far. The soundtrack was also incredible and along with the voice acting, set the tone for how the game felt in terms of depth. Now Lost Future might not last more than 20 hours, but in terms of how memorable the overall experience was, this game can easily hold it’s weight among other contenders and the “future” is looking extremely bright for this franchise if it keeps moving in this direction of deeper and deeper storytelling. There really isn’t too much else to say but “Well Done, Professor!”

I Give Professor Layton and the Lost Future:
9-5-capsules-out-of-10


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