A game where you travel to an odd remote village in the middle of nowhere in order to solve an inheritance dispute probably sounds like the most boring game imaginable, but the truth is anything but.
Professor Layton and the curious village is a charming short game about a British gentleman named Hershel Layton who travels with his young apprentice Luke solving interesting mysteries that nobody else would be able to solve.
Nothing in this game, or for that matter, any Professor Layton game, is as it seems, with all kinds of oddities and quirks that you only notice after a second look.
Even getting to the curious village is a major task, with the map being given in the form of a cryptic puzzle, and the moat to the village refusing entry.
The core focus of these games are the puzzles and the story. If you want to find out information, you have to solve the characters’ puzzle first, if you want to go anywhere, then that’s another puzzle. Of course if you don’t like puzzles, this will ruin the game for you, but it never really feels like you are doing anything that you don’t want to do. You are always made to think outside of the box, and enjoy the process of solving the task. The puzzles are also all relevant to the story, so with the entire mystery of the story being about puzzles, they never really feel out of place.
All the puzzles were made with many languages and cultures in mind, so although translations and ways of phrasing will make some puzzles easier and harder, nothing ever feels unfair, or tedious once you find the answer. The game is a constant series of “ah of course” moments, which make it very satisfying to play even for a short time. And if a puzzle is too much for you, you can always spend hint coins to help you find the answer – or you can do what I do, and google the hint coins so that when you save the game it looks like you haven’t spent any and you are a genius!
The story also features many twists and turns. Characters get killed, people vanish, characters turn out to be not at all who you thought they were and memories are lost completely. It is a seriously crazy story, only made to feel calm and reassuring through seeing the world from the perspective of a cool, level-headed, analytical English gentleman, lending the game such a huge amount of intrigue, while also keeping the game lovely and calming to play through.
It’s also truly commendable how accurate it is. I genuinely feel like I’m in my own country when I play these games despite the fact that all of the staff who made it were Japanese. It really is commendable. The best example I can think of is when you go out to a rural village in Pandora’s box, and everything from the style of the houses, to the shape and style of the brick field boundaries is exactly what you would expect it to be, and what I have seen in my many expeditions into the British countryside.
The finales of all the professor Layton games are always epic, with unexpected, marvellous sequences leading to a crazy conclusion. They really reward you for all your effort and give you conclusive and satisfying endings making the entire mystery feel worth it, and like something you yourself solved.
When I first played these games as a child, the puzzles were much harder for me, making them 30 hour games. But I feel for most people reading this, the games would be really very short at only 15 hours at most if you are new to the series. I really like this because it makes the games stand out as nice little self-contained stories and adventures, easily accessible and digestible if you would like to go back and play them again.
So I definitely recommend Professor Layton if you are given the opportunity to play it. It’s a series of games that in my opinion still holds up well, aging much better than other games due to the timeless nature of the genre. The most satisfying parts of the game is the story, puzzles, and art which will continue to stay just as interesting as they always have been regardless of new technologies emerging.
Professor Layton is a series of games which I often find myself coming back to, so I highly recommend playing it if you have the opportunity. The most easily accessible entry now is probably the mobile releases or the new Katrielle game on the switch, which is a series of much smaller stories about Professor Layton’s daughter, but still a good entry point into the series. Although it may lack the grand narrative of the other games, the charm of the series still carries over, and the shorter mysteries are still very interesting.