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Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

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Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Image © Level-5/Nintendo
Like the previous two Professor Layton titles, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future for the Nintedo DS is a favorable cross-breed of quality puzzle games and a Herge cartoon. Professor Hershel Layton is still solving the world's greatest mysteries with his young apprentice Luke, and if you've risen to the challenge of the Professor's puzzles in the past, there's no reason to stop now.

Developer: Level-5
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: E10+

The Basics: Mystery and Mayhem

Mystery and intrigue follow Professor Layton like a snake follows a mouse, and the opening for The Unwound Future presents an especially strange situation. A man claiming to be Luke has sent him a written plea for help--supposedly, from ten years into the future. If "Future Luke" is to be believed, London falls into disarray within a decade, and for reasons unstated, only Layton can set things right. Layton, along with Little Luke, are conveniently introduced to a vessel that can travel through time (not a DeLorean) and step into the future to see what can be done.

Navigating Layton's surroundings is, by now, a comfortable task for anyone who's familiar with the games. You guide Layton through town by tapping on streets and buildings--but you won't really get anywhere unless you put your thinking cap on. You'll be stopped every few minutes to solve a puzzle, some of which come from bystanders, and some of which have to do with the environment. And, of course, Layton will sometimes spring a puzzle on you just for the heck of it.

Some puzzles must be solved to advance the story, and others are for fun. The more puzzles you solve, the more bonus content you can unlock. There are also mini-games that you can play at any time to take a break. These involve putting a picture book together, guiding a parrot on his delivery routes, and charting paths for a toy car.

PROS

There's a huge variety of puzzles - Professor Layton and the Unwound Future has over 160 puzzles to find and solve. There are brainteasers, math puzzles, visual puzzles, word games, memory matching, and more. You'll always be motivated to seek out new challenges because you'll want to see what the game has to offer.

The presentation is top-notch - Professor Layton games are known for wrapping puzzles in whimsical animation, music, and voice-acting. Unwound Future is another high-quality presentation from Level-5.

The story is engaging - You wouldn't struggle through those gobs of puzzles unless the payoff was worth it, right?

There is forgiveness - Professor Layton titles take measures to make sure everybody can derive enjoyment from their time with the Professor. Solving a puzzle earns you "Pictrats," which unlock bonus features. Messing up a puzzle will lower the amount of Pictrats you earn, though you're only penalized twice. Otherwise, you're not punished for the amount of Pictrats you earn, or the amount of time you take to solve a puzzle. There are also "hint coins" scattered throughout the environment that can give you a helpful nudge towards a puzzle's answer.

There are downloadable puzzles - Weekly downloadable puzzles over Nintendo's Wi-Fi means that you can keep your brain in good health even after you're done with the main story.

CONS:

Some of the puzzles are worded too vaguely - At one point in the game, Professor Layton makes a reference to puzzles that are impossible to solve because of loopholes within the riddle. But every so often, you'll come across a puzzle that seemingly doesn't tell you everything you need to know in order to solve it correctly. Thankfully, this doesn't happen too often.

If you didn't enjoy the previous Professor Layton games, you won't like this one either - Aside from a new story and a new set of puzzles, the core gameplay in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is unchanged from The Curious Village and The Diabolical Box. The game's charm is absolute, but the tradeoff is a re-tread of Professor Layton's territory.

CONCLUSION: Few Things Satisfy Like a Puzzle Solved

True, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future doesn't stray far from the entrenched Professor Layton formula, but that's because it does the job so well. You can't ask for a finer collection of puzzles than what you get from Unwound Future, and it's not as if any Professor Layton game would work as a first-person shooter--though the concept is intriguing.

Layton fans, put on your time-traveling hat and take a trip with the Professor and Luke.

The Lukes, rather.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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