Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Professor Layton and the Curious Village Cover
Platform Nintendo DS
Genre Ultimate Portable Puzzler
Score 9  Clock score of 9Gameplay: 10
Fun Factor: 9
Gfx/Sound: 9
Story: 7
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Professor Layton and the Curious Village is a Nintendo DS point and click adventure puzzle game. The game features 135 brain-busting puzzles that will seriously give you a headache by the game's end, but it is an incredibly rewarding experience beating them all. In between all the puzzles is a somewhat interesting story about Professor Layton and his young apprentice, Luke, exploring the village of St. Mystere and uncovering its many secrets. There's a wide cast of characters and all the art and backgrounds are hand-drawn and looks really great. There's even some voice acting thrown in that's actually good, but the real star in Professor Layton are the puzzles.

Within the curious village, residents will constantly offer you challenging puzzles to tackle, and clicking on certain items also triggers a puzzle from either the Professor or Luke. The puzzles range from 30 second quickies using pattern and object recognition to 30 minute Tylenol-taking nasties using advanced techniques such as shortest path, eight queens, playing card probability, and moving one giant block through a mess of smaller ones. Since there are so many puzzles, there is a ton of variety and only a few "repeats with new conditions."

None of this probably makes any sense, so let me just get to my review.

Scores

Gameplay: 10
Brainteasing puzzles and a point and click adventure? I'd play this game again this instant if I hadn't just finished it. Professor Layton and the Curious Village just has this awesome combination of two things I love. And the puzzles were surprisingly tough! Many of them are easy, but some of the later ones are hard and I had to tap into my Computer Science degree to figure them out! They're also fun, and very few of them were frustrating for me. The only problem I see is that the presentation of this game seems to lean towards more of a younger kid's game, but I think it would be very hard for them to play it without nearly constant adult help. But maybe that's the glory of this game, bringing kids and their parents together for some actual brain developing video games where children learn.

Fun Factor: 9
Since I'm kind of a completionist (when it comes to games I enjoy), beating Professor Layton 100% was a challenge. It was super rewarding though and a fond 18 hours worth of gameplay. I'm really pumped to play the sequel which is already out in Japan so hopefully will be released later this year. Anyways, I love puzzles so this was really a perfect game for me. If you like challenging your mind or just want to play another adventure game, you will have a lot of fun with the Curious Village.

Graphics and Sound: 9
Professor Layton's art is excellent, and the voice acting is light-hearted and well done. This game's overall presentation is just darn good. The environments are nicely detailed and filled with color and imagination. The characters are somewhat less detailed, and the Professor himself almost looks just like a Lego figure. The puzzles are cleanly laid out with some distracting art sometimes, but other than that, I have no complaints about the graphics. As I said earlier, the voice acting is very good. Layton and Luke especially have heavy British accents that add to the game's appeal, and the music knows its place in the background and stays there. As this is essentially a puzzle game with adventure elements wrapping it, the music is appropriately themed but doesn't try to stand out.

Story: 7
Professor Layton and the Curious Village's story revolves around a recently deceased man's final gift for the world: the Golden Apple. Whoever finds the Golden Apple can have all the man's many riches, but it won't be easy. Everyone in the curious village of St. Mystere loves puzzles, so they're constantly thinking of new ones and our dear departed Baron Reinhold was the master puzzler. No one in the village has been able to claim his inheritance so in comes Professor Layton, another master puzzler, and his young apprentice, Luke. Layton and Luke wander around town solving the villager's puzzles while searching for the Golden Apple and slowly peeling away the great mysteries of St. Mystere. And there are a whole bunch of them. The game features some rather large and surprising reveals right near the end but either I was too dense, or the game did not do a very good job foreshadowing them and never gave me the chance at puzzling them out earlier on. The Professor usually just reveals things and that moves the game on.

The characters are also rather dull, Professor Layton is a straight laced gentleman, and is basically training Luke to be exactly the same as him. There is a bad guy but he gets so little screen time it's laughable looking back. There is a sequel coming so I'm sure this was merely his introduction to the grand scheme of things but it would have been nice if Layton and Don Paulo had a former rivalry or something. Instead, Layton has just heard of him before and Don Paulo is out for revenge for no apparent reason. The townsfolk just sort of stand around and say the same things over and over after you've beaten their puzzles.

Overall: 9
Awesome gameplay, beautiful graphics, decent voice acting, and an interesting premise makes for one heck of a Nintendo DS game. Professor Layton and the Curious Village is really in the upper echelon of portable games. Short stints of gameplay surrounded by a good story is what the DS excels at, and this game is no question. Try it out and play it, you may be pleasantly surprised, and I can guarantee you'll come out learning something.

Professor Layton And The Curious Village Luke
Isn't it kind of creepy that this little kid hangs out with "the professor"?

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