Professor Layton and the Unwound Future review

Discussion in 'NDS - Console and Game Discussions' started by .Chris, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. .Chris

    .Chris Clueless

    Feb 20, 2009
    United States
    United States

    The Professor Layton series suffers from a curse shared by all franchises which create and define their own genres. While games cut from a less original cloth can change wildly between iterations, a logic-puzzle-adventure-mystery series like Layton doesn't really have much room to mix things up without defying the tropes that made everyone fall in love with it in the first place. In short, don't expect the Good Professor to engage in any first-person deathmatches any time soon.

    The way franchises like Layton introduce change between entries is by expanding the game's universe and deepening the player's connections with its characters. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future does so swimmingly -- but wow, does it take its sweet, gentlemanly time in doing so.

    Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (DS)

    Much like Curious Village and Diabolical Box before it, the third installment in the Layton series possesses equally gargantuan amounts of polish and charm. Level 5's crisp, Miyazaki-esque visuals and dreamlike, accordion-centric melodies return, reminding players that not all AAA titles on Nintendo's platforms require the participation of plumbers, Hylians or interstellar bounty hunters.

    The premise for Unwound Future is arguably the series' most intriguing to date. The top-hat tutor is asked to help solve a mystery set 10 years in the future -- a request purportedly sent by the futuristic counterpart of his stalwart apprentice, Luke. This chronologically unsound mystery seems to have connections to a disastrous event witnessed by the puzzle-solving duo a week prior, as well as a similar accident from 10 years ago -- one which had particularly tragic consequences for Layton.

    The mystery unfolds through a series of conversations and beautifully animated cutscenes, which are peppered across a veritable ocean of increasingly difficult logic puzzles. While most of these conversations are endearing enough, the series still suffers from some of the worst segues in human history when transitioning to a puzzle. "Welcome to town! Do you like dogs? Here's a puzzle about a dog," an acquaintance might say, apropos of absolutely nothing.

    This formula has remained intact since Curious Village, and the only changes come in the form of a few new mini-games tucked away in Layton's ever-accessible trunk. Still, these should be familiar to fans of the series -- much like the camera-building game from Layton the First or the tea-mixing game from Layton the Second, these little bonuses do little else but encourage players to seek out every single puzzle in town, collecting components for their mini-games along the way.

    You'll need that extra encouragement, because around the five-hour mark, both the storytelling and puzzle variety takes a turn for the monotonous. The middle third of the plot line develops at a positively glacial pace, with hours of backtracking, red herrings and ... more backtracking (re-tracking? plain ol' tracking?).[/p]

    Source: *Rom website*