As a kid, I had a book of brainteasers that I thoroughly enjoyed. MindTrap, Choose Your Own Adventure, and classic LucasArts adventure games were all consumed with great gusto. The announcement of a game like Professor Layton and the Curious Village piqued my interest to a staggering level. Sure, Mario Galaxy was coming soon, but what I really wanted was Layton. I was afraid I might be setting myself up for disappointment; I have a history of getting too excited for a game or movie and then being underwhelmed by the actual product. Despite my fear, this game delivers to each of my hopes and then surpasses them.
The puzzles are whimsically presented and very easy to comprehend. A system of hints are there if you want them. You can even try a puzzle, fail, shut off your DS, load up a save point, and succeed upon return. But what this game delivers is far above the actual gameplay or your ability to solve puzzles.
This title is lovingly crafted. Nothing about the game feels cheap, rushed, or sloppy. The music is simple, but not distracting. The full-motion video animations are beautiful (showing that the Actimagine video codec can actually look good, despite its bad showings in Assassin’s Creed and Worms 2 on DS). Voice acting even provides additional immersion, as Layton’s young sidekick could’ve been very annoying but somehow avoids being unwelcome.
Reading today’s review over at Penny Arcade, I can’t help but agree that it’s very much a Logic Opera. I’ve also seen complaints online that the game is either too hard or too easy. That’s the nature of puzzles, unfortunately. Not every puzzle is specifically easy or tough for every individual. Regardless, there are hints available for a reason. If you ask me, the puzzles serve as treats to lead you further into a fun story that is more than welcome to spawn a great new franchise for Nintendo.