Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future Cover
Platforms Nintendo DS
Genre Same old great puzzler
Score 7  Clock score of 7
Buy from Amazon

Here we are back for the third year in a row with another Professor Layton game. The series has definitely become an annual event that I look forward to as the games are enjoyable to play and chock full of challenging puzzles. I’ve compared the Professor Layton series to the Phoenix Wright series before, as both sets of games offer unusual types of gameplay on an annual basis. But some other similarities are starting to creep in, and that’s the feeling of staleness.

The series hasn’t evolved a lot in three games, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the puzzles are great and the stories always intriguing, but it’s starting to feel like I’m playing expansion packs instead of brand new games. I awarded the first game, Curious Village, a 9/10 and its sequel, Diabolical Box, an 8/10, and I’m about to hand out a 7/10 to Unwound Future. I put a lot of value in mixing things up and trying something new, and the Professor Layton series just isn’t going anywhere. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my 20 hours with Unwound Future, but I’d really love for something more.

If this is your first Professor Layton game, you can expect a point and click style story-driven game with tons of unrelated puzzles to keep you interested. There isn’t any prior knowledge required to play Unwound Future, so it’s definitely a series someone can jump into at any point. Here’s my full review of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. If you’re curious, I also have a half-hour handheld review up too.

What I loved: Over 150 puzzles for you to scratch your head at and additional puzzles available to download every week or so. I wasn’t particularly stumped as often as in the previous games, but sometimes that can be a good thing (especially when the stumping puzzles are annoying block movers). If you enjoy original puzzles and I don’t mind a bit of point and click exploration in between, then you will probably love this game.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future Shape PuzzleWhat I liked: Unwound Future features a bunch of bonus challenges like the previous games, and these are actually pretty tough. One of the challenges is the toy car game where you need to place a set of arrows around a map so your toy car collects all the required items before it reaches the end. The hard part about this is correct placement of the arrows so that the car (which won’t change direction unless it runs over an arrow) can collect everything it needs.

The other bonus challenge uses Luke’s pet parrot to deliver items to different characters. His parrot hops around and the challenge is to place a series of ropes around a 2D plane so that the parrot can continue hopping to the goal. Both of these challenges are a nice break from the regular game and like I said, probably the toughest part of the game.

Unwound Future’s story is pretty cool at first, obviously from the title of the game there’s some time travel elements involved, which can be pretty entertaining when pulled off well. The Professor and his apprentice Luke are investigating the horrific explosion of a public demonstration gone awry and the disappearance of a public official. Things get interesting pretty quickly but then...

What I didn’t like: ...the story begins to go downhill. It’s actually fine for the first 80% of the game or so, but then they start wrapping up some storylines and it all becomes really baffling. Gigantic, gaping plot holes abound and characters just do absolutely bizarre things. The series is known for its twists but the twist in Unwound Future is just awful. Ugh.

As I talked about in the introduction, the main gameplay elements of the series haven’t progressed at all. You still explore locations, talk to local citizens, and solve puzzles. While this is all still fun, I would really like the series to try something new.

I feel like the game suffers a bit from basically staying in the same location throughout the entire game. Diabolical Box did this rather well with featuring an opening location, an awesome ride on a train, another town, and then the final mansion. The variety kept things interesting but there’s nothing like that in Unwound Future. You’ll traverse the same area dozens of times as you progress through the story with nothing new to check out.

What I hated: If I was a young woman looking for inspiration from the series’ lone female hero, Flora, I would be extremely discouraged from the way she was treated. Whenever she tries to tag along with the professor and Luke she’s continually scolded and told to go back to the hotel so she can stay safe. And more often than not, she listens and leaves the group! She’s so pathetically weak, and of course, she gets kidnapped at the end. Either drop this character or give her some respect.


Professor Layton and the Unwound Future Luke busGameplay: 9
For better or worse, the same old great Professor Layton gameplay. If you’re going to play this game, make sure you’re playing it for the right reason (hint: this is the reason).

Fun Factor: 6
Quite a bit more backtracking than usual and like I’ve said multiple times, the series is becoming stale. Will I come back next year? Probably, but a lot more begrudgingly.

Graphics and Sound: 8
I’ve always been impressed by the art and voice work in the Professor Layton series, and Unwound Future is no exception. The voices seemed to deteriorate a bit with some of the newer characters though.

Story: 3
I liked where where the plot started but when they started wrapping things up things went really bad. Not every game needs a second bad guy who pulls motives out of thin air. And when you create a plot device so big that it needs to be explained away with a literal giant plot hole, I object.

Overall: 7
With all its extraneous problems, the core Professor Layton game is still great. Don’t play Unwound Future for its story and don’t expect some kind of grand innovation from developers Level-5, but do play it for its numerous great puzzles.