Professor Layton and the Last Specter


Puzzle play and great storylines combine into a potent, mystery-adventure game in Professor Layton and the Last Specter.

This quality game is the first installment in a new trilogy that is also a prequel to the existing game series that begins three years before the events from the Professor Layton and the Curious Village Nintendo DS game.

Got all that? OK, on to the review…

Weekly additional content, engaging mental challenges, and a sizable RPG-style bonus game all make this single player game a must-have.

The original game trilogy, listed in chronological order according to U.S. release, consists of Curious Village, Unwound Future, andDiabolical Box. This fourth installment contains more than 150 base puzzles with culminating in double-digit gameplay to conquer the entire game. Players can unlock up to 15 more puzzles, accessible from the main menu, as they win puzzles and amass the Picarat game currency used to access bonuses from the main menu. The riddles, brain teasers, and various mental challenges integrate into the story well while the easy touch screen options/controls provide easy functionality and musical score enhances the experience with nice orchestral arrangements.

Players obviously need to bring their mental “A” for the puzzles, but the high text content requires concentration, memorization, and close attention as well or else players can miss important details. The in-game hint system and inventory cache help players focus their abilities on solving puzzles instead of remembering what they have or need on the way.

The story, which can get surprisingly slow at time, occurs three years before the Curious Village installment as a mysterious entity creates havoc in the village of Misthallery at night. This story focuses the main protagonist Professor Hershel Layton, assistant Emmy Altava, and Layton’s future apprentice Luke Triton. Players can tap on other characters directly to interact with them – a great element enhanced by the sharp art design and animations.

The puzzles come at a steady pace and have a nice variety, so player won’t get bored with the same approach. Puzzle work involves no time limits, which is a welcome addition that matches the steady game pace. The note pad option can be a helpful for players as well.

The hints are purchased with coins. Players start with ten coins, but more can be purchased. The “restart” button can be a helpful option in complex puzzles, but do not waste purchased hints or Picarat currency. Ultimately, player must ensure they have the correct final answer before they finalize a puzzle or they lose Picarats.

Unlockable mini-games, accessed through the suitcase icon in the top-right corner of the bottom screen) include a Toy Train game where players create a travel path on the way to the ultimate destination. Fuel, track length limitations and oncoming vehicles factor into this minigame’s complexity. The similar fish coin collecting mini-game and the “choose-your-own-adventure”-type story creation (a.k.a. Puppet Theater) game are welcome endeavors.

The fill-in-the-blank story game can play like an expanded Mad Libs – a perfectly entertaining diversion for wordsmiths. No penalties for nonsensical words, so feel free to entertain yourself. The characters won’t react to miscues, but applaud correct word choices.

Rare time limits apply in the Mouse Alley minigame, earned by tapping mice and gathering “mouse badges”, involves quick reflexes by tapping as many mice as possible except Luke’s mouse Toppy. Other unlockables includes character profiles, artwork, and video cutscenes.

Players don’t have to unlock anything for the most in-depth supplementary game, London Life that includes element from all four Professor Clayton games. Jump right in this role-playing extravaganza with character customization then progress three individual traits during the game – coolness, formality, and impression. High coolness sustains high happiness while high formality yields high accessibility. High impressions create a better reputation, which other characters value, so they request more tasks. Tasks are also listed in the newspaper every day. Other “Sim”-like elements include environmental elements, which can also increase happiness.

Players can meet different characters, visit various settings, collect items, and join other in multiplayer gameplay using friend codes or even share items with others. Players can go for the bucks or achieve life happiness. Money making tasks have a fun range including hotel work. Loophole cash cows include entertainment jobs like juggling while casino offer high risk stakes.

The Hidden Door unlockable, can only be unlocked by purchasing the upcoming fifth, unnamed Professor Layton game in the series. Professor Layton and the Last Specter‘s format does not stray much from the original games, so players can expect more high quality experiences in the next two upcoming installments of this game trilogy. Free downloadable puzzles release every week, using the Wi-fi connection, with accompanying hints appearing one week after the initial puzzle release. Highly recommended (***1/2 out of four stars).

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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