I didn’t read about Professor Layton and the Curious Village until about 2 weeks before the release date, but I’m really glad I did read about it.
The pictures seemed to make the game look a bit childish and more like a stocking filler when I first glanced at it. Even though I love animation, Disney films and Studio Ghibli films, it didn’t really appeal to me. But after reading about the game, I really wanted to play the game and suddenly the images looked brilliant.
The main storyline sees Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke being called to the village of St Mystere to search for the secret treasure of the late Baron Reinhold that is ‘The Golden Apple’. The tale goes that whoever finds ‘The Golden Apple’ will have earned the right to all of Baron Reinhold’s fortune. The game opens with a nice little clip which explains in more depth the reason why you’re going to be racking your brains to solve over 100 puzzles.
The puzzles start off relatively easy but do get really tricky and taxing the further into mystery you go. Don’t let the game fool you in thinking that the puzzles are pointless and have no meaning to the game because they are a major part of the storyline.
To solve the puzzles you can either speak to the locals or search the village and hunt down the mental challenges. There’re certain puzzles that can only found during certain chapters of the game, but fear not! If you do miss some, there is a little house where you go and complete any of the puzzles that you may have missed throughout your journey. Don’t think too hard, as some of the answers are right in front of your face if you read the questions properly.
Whilst walking the street of St. Mystere, you’ll be giving little side quests to do that all help to unravel the great mystery surrounding the village.
The storyline is very well thought out and I in my opinion, quite clever. I did guess it about halfway through the game (he says smugly), but this didn’t in anyway ruin the experience of the game for me, just made me want to complete it quicker to see if I was right!
The soundtrack is really enchanting also and almost had me falling asleep. Depending on where you are, the music will change, but when solving the puzzles the music is the same but it didn’t become annoying for me unless it took me about 1000 attempts to solve a puzzle.
There are some puzzles where, if you don’t know the answer, you can keep going through the options until you get it right, but where’s the sense of accomplishment in that?
But you do get the odd puzzles where it does take all your brain power to solve. You don’t have to solve the puzzles there and then, but there are certain parts of the game that you can’t reach unless you’ve successfully completed a certain amount of the brain teasers.
The game took me just over 14 hours to complete and I loved every minute of it and can’t wait for the sequel. It’s annoying that the 3rd instalment is about to be released in Japan! No surprise that we’re behind……..again!! We’re like the backwater town of the gaming world, aren’t we?!
The puzzles don’t end after you’ve completed it, as you can download new puzzles every week using the DS’s Wi-Fi connection, and you can go back and solve anything you’ve failed to do during the game, or search the village for any you’ve missed. There are 5 that I still need to find!!!
The use of the DS’s two screens is used to great effect and really adds to the atmosphere of the village and it’s really helpful when solving puzzles.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village has to be the best puzzle game on the DS at the minute…until the second game in the franchise is released.
4 out of 5
Danny ‘Ender’ Martin has been part of the Zath team from pretty much the very beginning since he met Zath himself at Leeds Met University whilst studying Business IT. He’s an avid gamer and a big film buff. Danny graduated from the University of Bradford with a degree in Computer Animation and SFX and now currently works at one of the biggest UK games developers, which will hopefully see some of his ideas hit the gaming world.