Cons hard at times
saving made TOO easy
simplistic story without suspense
Summary Let's get this straight: Level-5 is one of my favorite developers, ever since I discovered their masterpiece Dark Chronicle on PS2. Does that make me biased? Perhaps, though they've always brought quality titles to the game world, such as Dragon Quest and Rogue Galaxy. Furthermore, Professor Layton And The Curious Village bears little resemblance to any of those games.
This game tells the tale of a puzzle master and his apprentice that travel around to solve mysteries for people in need. Gentlemanlike as they are, they hop in their deux chevaux to aid a family with a peculiar inheritance issue they're having. These aristocrats have been asked to seek out a mysterious Golden Apple in order to claim the vast fortune of their befallen kin. In doing so, they'll have to solve a series of intricate enigmas. So queue the good Professor into the town of Saint Mystère. Yes, they're masters of puzzles, yet can't come up with a decent town name. I guess you can't win them all.
The cheesiness doesn't stop there though. Although the story is nicely written and brews along casually, most of the actual mysteries become so transparent so fast. Not only that, but in most cases there's little to no creativity in presenting you puzzles. In fact, the gratuitous one-liners, such as "Hey, there's a hidden puzzle in this piece of meat!" will grace your screen more than often. If they've gone out of their way to concoct a complex story with mysteries, one may wonder why they stopped caring halfway through. I suppose it would've made things unnecessarily complicated.
And complicated is the word you'll think of when playing this game, because this game is hard! Supervised by real-life puzzle master Akira Tago, he has done all he can to torture your brain goo. With well over 100 puzzles, you'll get completely stumped at a good quarter of all riddles and will most likely fail at some as well. However, winning some puzzles after some hard thought, will leave you with an immense sense of self-satisfaction. Many times you'll feel like the smartest and smuggest person on this planet, after finding out that the matchstick had to go to that place. But that will be short-lived, for the villagers will soon enough present you with some other stunning problem.
There is however the double-edged side of the fluent gameplay that allows you to enter your inventory and save effortlessly. This will result in you cheating yourself out of some experiences and randomly guessing and restarting, if you're really at a loss. They should've implemented a system where failures are permanent; this would've improved the game a lot.
Other than that the game is a beautiful experience to go through. There is no end to the creativity of the puzzles, even if some are recurring or revolve around the same subject. Finding squares in dotted fields or placing pawns on a chessboard will require you to go all out. You'll tabulate all possible outcomes over and over, in the name of the good Professor.
More so, the world he lives in is presented in a way unique to any other puzzle game. And this is what separates Professor Layton from the pack of brain teasers on DS. Saint Mystère is a visual wonder, even in its simplicity. A charming French looking village (vil-aaj) that brims with small details, pictured in a unique cartoon fashion. Everything lives and breathes quirky country town and, to a point, St Mystère is perfectly drawn. It makes it such a pleasure to rummage through and it will leave you with a smirk on your face for hours.
Add to that the perfect soundtrack to amplify French country life. Think of those cheesy, old Parisian tunes with accordions and beret mustaches, waving baguettes around. In short, it will whisk you away to a magical experience. But that will only be in between the suspense moments, which ring in with immaculate sound effects. With the use of the dual screen, you'll get hints of dark touches popping up whenever something's amiss, accompanied by a single grim tone.
This makes Professor Layton truly stand out and make it the best puzzle game yet created. Much in the line of older Broken Sword games, it combines charming cartoon graphics with mind-crippling puzzles to both charm and infuriate you at the same time. And it's hard to hate on a game that tries so hard to appeal to you. It's almost as hard as its hard puzzles!
So, forget other flaunters of thinking exercises. Sure, this might not be a perfect game in terms of story, but what it lacks there it makes up with simplicity. It enhances perfectly the core gameplay of any puzzle game, with its alluring appearance and absolute logic. Professor Layton And The Curious Village is like Brain Academy on an acid trip! It's an unforgettable experience with a puzzle game, if you'll ever have one. Kick your mother in the face if she ever dares to touch another brain teaser, other than a Professor Layton game, for that's what she should play!