Professor Layton and the Curious Village Review

Disclaimer: I originally intended to have a theme for this week, where I would review three DS graphic adventure games, starting with 999, but I decided to not do it, and that I will just have a week where I post junk in bulk, because I feel bad for not updating all the time.  I’m kinda stupid like that, but enjoy this mini-review of a game that is hard to talk about.

Back when the DS was still a new system, and every developer was trying to figure out a good way to utilize a touch screen.  Level 5, a company that either works its employees to starvation, or has the most dedicated group of 210+ individuals in the industry, decided to make a series of brainteasers under the guise of a murder mystery.  This eventually flourished into Professor Layton and the Curious Village.  After hearing a few of the 4 million people who bought this title gush about how good this game is, I ended up purchasing it during the summer of 2011, where it sat on my shelf and absorbed dust, until recently.  

Professor Layton and the Curious Village Review
Release Date: 10/2/2008
Platform: DS
Price I Paid: $14.99

The game stars Professor Hershel Layton, an English Archaeologist and his young apprentice, Luke Triton, both of whom possess a fondness for riddles and puzzles.  During the search for an artifact known as The Golden Apple, the two end up in St. Mystere, a town full of odd characters who have a love of brainteasers, all of which utilize the DS’ touch screen.  Throughout the course of this 10-12 hour adventure, the heroes encounter many odd mysteries, some of which are far less odd than others, but by the end that entire plot of the game seems to just stop caring and tries its hardest to be memorable.  But it implies that there is time travel of some sort going on, because the rest of the game might as well be set in the early 20th century.

All of the caricatures of human beings that are the residents of this sealed off town have some form of problem for the dynamic duo to go through in this graphic adventure, which range from simple word problems to borderline diabolical puzzles, but the puzzles feel a bit lacking to me after playing 999, perhaps due to the kitchen sink approach, where you can be quizzed on nearly anything, but more often than not, you can figure it out without using the in-game hints.  There are well over a hundred problems to deduce, and it can be great for just getting your brain juices pumping, which I suppose is all that I can ask from a game like this.

In terms of presentation, the game has a unique style that ends up looking very westernized for a Japanese developer, but still has a bit of an anime feel to it.  Characters are simple, but recognizable, and they all have some form of idle animation when you talk to them in the game’s conversation mode. Speaking of which, the translators did a very nice job by removing any odd sounding lines that I can recall, and there are a few chuckle worthy bits in the dialog, which help keep the game’s extremely light tone.  The music is mostly atmosphere fluff, but it fits at the very least, and can be phased out, which is good, since people often have a harder time being tested when they are listening to music.  Oh, and the backgrounds are very well done and add to this game’s simple, but enjoyable personality

Overall, there is not a lot to say, since the game itself is quite insubstantial, and the fact that I played it on and off for months makes it hard to find anything to really criticize.  The number recognition of the DS stylus is rubbish, and some puzzles are more than a little contrived in how they come up.  But the puzzles are nice, but some I found to be more annoying than an actual test of my intelligence, but those are more the exception to the rule.  And the characters are interesting, so other than the plot going bonkers near the end, the game is pretty great, all things considered.

An impressive product, won’t always astound due to a fair number of flaws, but is very enjoyable and worth a purchase.

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