Phew, it took me a year, but I eventually got around to playing and finishing the fourth (really?!) installment of the Professor Layton saga. Well it’s a bit of a prequel really, as the Prof meets his faithful apprentice Luke in the mysterious village (sounds familiar) of Misthallery. He’s joined by ballsy journalist Emmy for a nice mix to the gang.
Misthallery is under siege by a giant spectre who appears every night out of the fog and smashes up part of the town. There’s folklore that years ago there was a girl with a flute that could summon a spectre to defend the town. So what the hell is going on?
The Layton series continues in its usual ridiculously implausible vein, but with its very defined sense of style – both in the artwork, music and the characters. Layton is the same as always, going on about tea and being a gentleman, but he’s such an endearing character that you can forgive this apparent lack of character development.
The story – after a slow start – is quite straightforward, with another insane conclusion. Thankfully it wasn’t QUITE as bizarre as the previous game, even if it has its moments. I did really get into it, blitzing through the last 10 hours or so in little more than a week. I must say though, the truth behind the spectre really did not make ANY sense, given the video clips we had seen of it…
Of course the premise of the game is the same. You go around talking to everyone you can, solving their mini puzzles on everything from algebra, probability and logic problems to slide puzzles and mazes. I felt it was a subtly more varied selection than previous games, with less emphasis on generic multiples of things like the slide puzzles or chessboard posers. While there are still a few annoying trick answers to some puzzles, all-in-all they are still enjoyable.
I can’t say I was too fussed on the usual feature of desperately tapping around every new screen to find the three hint coins in each area, but I still did it.
I’m curious to see how Layton’s imminent 3DS debut will shake up the formula. It would be a slap in the face to just copy-paste the format wholesale with nothing worthwhile added with the new hardware, but we will see.