OBJECT–wait…wrong game. (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)
The most damning thing I could say about Professor Layton and the Curious Village is that it adheres to its premise perhaps beyond the realm of believability. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but when a supposed murder occurs and everyone should, ostensibly, be freaking out, it’s not abnormal to have someone say, “Well, hey, that actually reminds me of a puzzle…”
It’s like Super Mario RPG. No one believes you’re Layton until you solve a puzzle (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)
It’s that thing where you’re thinking, “Guys, I’m trying to solve a murder here. Will someone…ANYONE stop being an obtrusive pain in the ass and help me figure out who murdered your nephew?” Such is life in the town of St. Mystere. As many of the locals tell me, it’s a puzzle town. They’re bananas about puzzles.
Honestly it’s only an issue when I feel like the narrative is straining to introduce a reason why one of the 100+ puzzles is being presented to me. Even then, what’s the harm?
The point of Layton, naturally, is not to see a story, although some fans might argue otherwise. It is to solve as many puzzles as they can find and fit into the game. Puzzle design ranges from classic river crossing puzzles to block sliding, logic, mathematical, you name it. If there’s a type of puzzle out there it’s in the game.
Which is kind of awesome, really, because you rarely run into puzzles that are too similar to each other. In one you might be trying to figure out geometric identities, but the next might just be a logic puzzle whose answer is derived from careful reading rather than straining the old grey matter.
River crossing puzzles are great (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)
I didn’t expect to love Layton given the fact that it’s widely regarded as a :scoff: casual game, but playing Puzzle Agent this summer proved that a quirky story was a fantastic framing device for a straight brainteaser type of game. I’m still pretty far from beating Layton, but, for what it’s worth, I’d say that Puzzle Agent had the more charming cast and story.
Oh, and on a final note (but not FINAL final, I mean, I’m only in Ch 3 of Layton), I wanted to mention that I am super lucky that the Nintendo DS was a region free system. I definitely wasn’t paying enough attention when I ordered my used copy because I found myself with the EU version of the game which, for reasons I don’t quite understand, differ beyond simply having extra ‘u’s in color or an ‘s’ in realise. There was at least one puzzle, that I know of, that involves digital clocks in the US version, but analog clocks in the EU. The puzzles that are changed from JP for Western audiences naturally make more sense, since you can’t have kanji puzzles in English, but this clock thing is baffling to me.