Professor Layton and Pandora's Box
Join Professor Layton on a murderous puzzle-filled mystery romp
- Stunning artwork, great puzzles, characters have genuine personality.
- An occasional silly moment in plot, there’s a long wait before Layton returns in another game.
Overall this is a great puzzle game with both an entertaining story and mind-bending puzzles.
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
Remember the old puzzle books? The kind with page after page of mazes, tangrams and riddles that you’d buy to pass a long train ride or flight?
Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box is a video game version of that kind of book, wrapped in some gorgeous artwork and an intriguing murder mystery adventure plot.
Attempting to solve the mystery behind the death of a friend, Professor Layton is at his Sherlock Holmes best as he wades through puzzle after puzzle in the pursuit of the truth, through a variety of scenic locations including a country train, quaint villages and bustling cities.
With over 150 puzzles to solve (and extras downloadable from the Nintendo Wifi service), there is plenty to do, and the puzzles range from ridiculously easy to brain-meltingly challenging. There’s a couple of extra minigames thrown in for kicks, but the bulk of the game is solving a near endless-stream of brain teasers.
Although some of the puzzles are exceedingly difficult, the game itself is relaxing to play, as it’s possible to bypass most of the puzzles, and there’s no real penalty for getting a puzzle wrong.
Although you’ll lose some points from the in-game score each time you make a mistake, you’re quite welcome to keep trying until you get it right, and the only consequence for ending up with a low score is missing out on a few minor bonus features.
Navigating through the vibrant and colourful game is done in a very point-and-click adventure game fashion, and indeed, puzzles aside, Layton plays out very much like a traditional point-and-click games we remember fondly from our childhoods. See a character you want to speak to? Tap them with the stylus. Something on the screen suspicious? Tap it too.
Exploring the game is fun, too, because the various characters all have genuine personality and charm. For a murder mystery, the game is very light-hearted, and is filled with an abundance of humour, and it’s easy to fly through the game and lose track of time.
On the down side, the transition from the adventure game to the puzzles is occasionally awkward. A number of times I’d be travelling along, completely absorbed in following up clues, and I’d bump into a character that would say something trite like, “this tree reminds me of a puzzle.”
Bam! Puzzle attack. It’s quite a jarring effect, and especially disappointing considering how seamlessly other puzzles are built into the game.
But that’s a minor gripe. The variety of puzzles, the quality of the story, and the beautiful animation makes Professor Layton an absolute must-have, and a highlight for anyone looking for a game that’s a bit different.
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