The fifth installment in the Professor Layton series delivers what you should expect by now: an over-the-top story that’s slowly revealed to you, one puzzle at a time.
Alas, after four games of basically the same formula over and over again, the series is now starting to run thin. The gameplay could really use an overhaul, and I thought the transition to the 3DS would be perfect for that. Unfortunately it was not to be.
While there are advantages to the 3DS switch (more quality cutscenes, more voiced lines, a couple of puzzles with added flair), there are also a few pitfalls that they didn’t avoid. Changing the wonderful 2D character animations to 3D ones isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, for one. While they tried to make the 3D models resemble the 2D ones closely through cel-shading, somehow in the process they lost some of the charm inherent in the artwork, and it hurts the game (especially in contrast with the beautiful and top notch 2D cutscenes). And it also feels like they didn’t take full advantage of the new capabilities the 3DS has to offer. Either the console was still too new when this game was in production, or the developers were too rusted in their old ways. Whatever it was, I feel that they left a lot of potential untapped and while this may improve the odds for the sixth game (Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy), I’m not that sure this team will go for it…
I’m not overly happy with the story’s resolution either. It lacked a good twist (as the main twist was more or less phoned in from the very beginning), and they kind of shoehorned a certain villain in, just to fit this game into a trilogy. Several of the main characters have really silly motivations as well, so you’d better not think too hard about it (but this holds true for the other Layton games as well).
In the end, though, I still got a game with (once again) high production values, a great deal of puzzles (150 + minigames), and a staggering 365 daily downloadable puzzles. All these combined netted me about a 60-hour puzzle fix, so while this installment may be the weakest of the Layton series so far, it’s by no means a bad one. I just hope the devs step up their game somewhat in the conclusion to this prequel trilogy…
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Time Played: Over 20 hours
Difficulty: Just Right