ESRB Rating: E10+
The Basics: Mystery and Mayhem
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.
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.
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
Layton fans, put on your time-traveling hat and take a trip with the Professor and Luke.
The Lukes, rather.