I think I should start this review by saying that I am going to be very bias. I suppose, really, I’m bias with all of my reviews, but in this particular case I associate the game very strongly with an old friend of mine – someone I’ve not seen in a long time. As a result, when I play, it makes me nostalgic and provides me with a happy reminder of him. Perhaps it’s best to view this reviews as a documentation of the feelings that each thing evokes in me and, in that sense, I am wholly unbiased as I know my own emotions.
So, anyway, the game! Professor Layton and his young companion Luke travel to a village called St. Mystere, where they have been invited to solve the mystery of the ‘Golden Apple’ – all of which ties into the will of a recently deceased Baron. The two of them then explore the village in an attempt to get to the bottom of things, encountering many puzzle-loving villagers along the way.
The game is a point and click adventure, so you’ll have a view of a certain part of the town and click on the building you want to enter or the person you want to speak to. People tend to say “I’ll tell you something useful if you solve this puzzle” and then you’ll be given a puzzle to solve. These puzzles vary significantly – sometimes you’re sliding tiles around on the touch screen, sometimes you have to use mathematics, other times a scenario is explained and you really have to think outside of the book to determine the outcome. Puzzles vary in difficulty from sometimes being very easy to sometimes being enormously hard. I liked the variety and sometimes solving a hard puzzle was deeply satisfying (and made me feel intelligent.)
What took me by surprise is the game’s level of emotional depth. From the setup, you’re probably not going to expect all that much in terms of story, but actually there were a lot of unexpected twists and I found the end rather moving. To top it all off, there’s a really beautiful soundtrack throughout and a great soundtrack always brings emotions to the surface, in my experience.
The characters were all quite charming as well, particularly Layton and Luke themselves. Layton wants to be the perfect gentleman and that’s exactly what he is, while Luke is provides innocence and wonder. It wasn’t just the main characters though: the small characters all tended to have some interesting features to them, even if it was just the fact that they were comically ugly. Nobody is a normal, forgettable person.
I had never played a game like this before and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I got to the end of it, I couldn’t wait to get onto the sequels, because I was hooked! This is a superb addition to the DS library. (Bad news for anybody playing it for the first time now, though, is that extra downloadable puzzles, available via the internet, can no longer be played – I wasn’t really sure where to fit that in, but it’s a shame.)