The Professor Layton series is known for its tough logic-based puzzles, clean artwork and inspiring, multi-layered story. In Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy, Katrielle Layton, the daughter of Professor Layton, her talking dog, Sherl and uninvited assistant, Ernest Greeves, set out to solve numerous mysteries throughout London. Katrielle is tasked with assisting a group known as the Seven Dragons, the seven richest people in London via the newly opened Layton detective agency.
There are many similarities to the previous outstanding Layton titles but this time around there are aspects that make Layton's Mystery Journey fall slightly short of greatness; most of which comes down to the titles writing. In a puzzle title that revolves around mystery and fierce detective work, you need a well-constructed plot brought to life with memorable characters. Rather than having a theme of intertwining arcs, each episode acts more like a standalone adventure that does little to build up any sort of tension or actual mystery. Katrielle on occasion has her charming moments but not enough from a protagonist aspect. Sherl, the talking basset, plays a far more entertaining role and is sadly the only truly memorable character of the entire cast.
In the early stages of the game, two thought provoking mysteries are touched on but they are seemingly sidelined to search for ‘Ratman’, a local superhero, and Madame Doublée’s missing pet. These less interesting cases have their moments, but not having a more prolific overall story makes them seem pointless. This continues until the final case where the characters you’ve interacted with throughout the game make noteworthy contributions. After completion, the story isn’t completely resolved and leaves you questioning the game's writing even more. Thankfully, once a case is solved, you can revisit it and see how many puzzles are left to solve and the number of hidden hint coins there are left to discover.
Katrielle moves around from area to area discovering new aspects of the current case at hand. Sadly, there is little to no skill involved during this process. You enter a section, talk to the characters that populate the screen, pick up a few hint coins and then get prompted to move onto the next section. It simply feels like you’re being spoon-fed. Fortunately in-between this mundane experience there are the trademark Layton styled puzzles to solve. For me these have always been the highlight of the series. These range from basic logic puzzles to upper-tier difficulty, which are a pleasure to tackle. There are close to 200 of these puzzles to discover and attempt to solve, with only some that are mandatory to progress the story. Some may find the hint system helpful in some of the puzzles assisting with the more challenging problems. I would recommend trying to make it through without using the hint system as this is the best aspect of the game by far.
While it’s always a joy to have another entry to the Layton series, Layton’s Mystery Journey finds itself as an average addition to the franchise. The puzzles are both fun and challenging, which somewhat make up for the uncompelling story and generally weak characters. If Level-5 choose to continue with the Mystery Journey series much improvement will be needed, specifically with the story. An underwhelming first entry for Katrielle and friends and while the game can improve, it remains a fun experience that fans, for the most part, will still enjoy.
Banjo wielding, moonshine drinking, dungaree enthusiast. When not laying back on the porch couch he will be found making minor additions to his porcelain dog home décor.
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6 October 2017
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