The Layton series played a big part in my schooling years. Little ol’ me and my Nintendo DS, absolutely stoked to have this series in hand. If there was any gaming franchise that kept my mind alight, these were it, thanks to all its puzzles.
There are now seven games in the Layton series. This is also the first to feature a different Layton as it’s protagonist, and a female one at that!
First day on the job
I start to tear up not even a minute into the game because of the opening cutscene. You’re introduced to Katrielle Layton, the daughter of the famous Professor Layton, as a child, crying after her father who disappears into a fog, before she wakes up from her slumber. She gets ready for her first day following in her father’s footsteps in becoming a great detective. The opening sequence had such a massive change in tone, I was confused as to why I teared up in the first place.
As Katrielle knocks the final nail onto her agency’s storefront, she is approached by a wandering dog with amnesia who asks her to help him find out who he is. Since he has no memory of his own name, he is nicknamed Sherl O. C. Kholmes (wink wink) by the gang. You’re also introduced to Ernest: Katrielle’s assistant (despite her protests) who very obviously does not have the hots for her…I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Unfortunately for Katrielle, no one in London knows of her or her incredible investigative abilities except Inspector Hastings of Scotland Yard who enlists her in her first Case. Unfortunately for Sherl, he has to tag along with no help to his plight in sight. By the way, no one but Katrielle and Ernest can hear what Sherl says. The story in general tends to go flat here and there, and I found myself speeding through conversations, probably missing big “clues” in the progress. But unlike Detective Pikachu, you don’t need to put clues together by yourself to solve cases, so skipping through is absolutely fine for me to do. Katrielle tells you everything at the end of it anyway.
Solving puzzles for fun and profit
You will learn the ins and outs of the game mechanics within the first two “Cases” (chapters). The good story stuff begins in Case 03. Leave no stone unturned! Clues can be anywhere, and puzzles even more so. Its been a while since I last played a Layton game and my good golly days these puzzles aren’t straightforward in the slightest. The first very puzzle, introduced to you by Sherl as he tries to suss out your detective abilities (because apparently that’s what you do – it is a pattern in the game), took me at least 20 minutes to figure out and complete.
Hot tip: Don’t play this game in the middle of the night or risk coming up with plenty excuses as to why you absolutely suck at puzzle-solving. I thought that there might be a massive mistranslation problem simply because my brain was too tired to understand the task at hand. No, there’s no mistranslation – just complicated puzzle instructions that needs a lot more of your brainpower than you might think. Also, almost everything that you do will end up with a puzzle that needs solving. That being said, the “Memo” function is a great help when solving certain puzzles, especially when you need to map things out. Once I discovered it, I never stopped using it!
Suspect on the move
Despite being a port, it plays extremely well whether on the go or playing on the TV at home. In fact, I think the game’s artwork shines even better in the Switch version. Old London is so beautifully drawn, it absolutely deserves to be played up on the big screen.
There isn’t an autosave function, which isn’t unusual in Japanese games (Pokémon included). You’ll need to manually save your progress, though you will get prompts at the end of every Case. Keep that in mind if you’re on the move or risk losing your progress from a flat battery.
Daily Bonuses are a thing in this game, of which I still don’t understand why… They’re completely cosmetic. You’ll receive ‘Fashion Farthings’ for every day that you play, which can be used for Katrielle cosmetics. I wouldn’t see why anyone would want to change because her default outfit is JUST. SO. CUTE! You can use the Farthings to dress Sherl up as well, if that’s a thing you’re into. There are also Daily Puzzles on offer and tons of random mini-games that you’ll pick up along the way. Surely, that would be enough to bring some players back to the game?
I have to say that I immediately feel nostalgic – from solving puzzles to all the cheeky cutscenes. I felt like I was back in high school, adventuring with Layton and Luke on my chonky DS. I’m about 12 hours into the game at this point and no where near the end. I’ll definitely take my time and enjoy every little stereotypical English-isms Level-5 have to throw at me.
I’ll keep coming back until “Every mystery or puzzle (is) solved!”
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Fun brain busting puzzles, Katrielle is ADORABLE, Nostalgia factor
Lowlights: Slow paced, Occasionally dull storyline
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, iOS and Android
Review conducted on Nintendo Switch with a retail code provided by the publisher.