The third outing for the crime solving quizzical sleuths with British accents is just as grand as the first two adventures. Luke and Hershel (That’s Professor Layton’s first name, BTW) are mysteriously transported 10 years into the future, where a corrupted Professor Layton has thrown the city into ruin, a future Luke is trying to save it, and puzzle are coming out of every nook and cranny imaginable. It’s classic Professor Layton writing and puzzle solving at its best, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been devoting a lot of time to All Zombies Must Die! as of late, but the professor and Luke keep budding their way into my time, and for good reason!
Taking place after the events that unfolded in the equally challenging and entertaining Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future starts off fast and picks up steam rather quickly. After being invited to a special unveiling of a brand new piece of technology – a working time machine – the savvy Professor Layton and sidekick Luke Triton are whisked away 10 years into the future. After receiving a note from a person claiming to be Luke 10 years later, the Professor and Luke uncover that they are indeed (or at least so far it seems) in the future, and that a future Professor Layton is the ruler of the crime infested city. Always a gentleman and always willing to help, Layton, Luke, and eventually Future Luke decide they are going to get to the bottom of this mystery the best way they know how: solving over 100 brain teasers and puzzles!
No surprises here, Unwound Future follows much the same formula as it’s predecessor, albeit with a few minor change and enhancements. First off, and maybe this is a minor complaint, but the background music that plays during the puzzles has changed from the first two titles. Not really a gameplay issue, but I loved that catchy, high-pitched ambiance heard whilst solving puzzles in Curious Village and Diabolical Box, and this new tune isn’t as good in my opinion. I do have to admit, though, that it has started to grow on me. And as a bonus, the old tune can be found in the game’s version of Granny Riddleton’s shack to play puzzles you skipped over. Sweet!
Purely aesthetics, the font has changed that is displayed when introducing a puzzle. Not a big difference, but noticeable. A bigger change comes in the form of animations and sound: There are more full-motion scenes and voiced characters and scenes than in previous games. I noticed right off that bat that characters talked with voice actors reading their lines much more often than in other games. Also, characters move their mouths when they talk, something that is again only a visual change but a good one nonetheless.
The puzzles are the real core to the gameplay, and they have happily made even better! There are over 150 puzzles to solve this time around, and so far they have been just as varied and challenging as previous entries have been. A minor enhancement that can make all the difference in solving as puzzle has been made to the hint coin system: After spending the usual three hint coins for three separate hints, players can now spend an additional two coins to unlock the “super hint,” which gives a very helpful clue that almost always results in you figuring out the correct answer. This is a nice addition to the system and really helps players, of all skill levels, figure out each and every puzzle. It does carry a heavy price though (five hint coins just to get it), but the dilemma of when to use and when to save makes each coin precious.
As with Diabolical Box, there are three minigames to entice you between puzzles should you get bored. Though I’ve yet to play any of them, I’ve been steadily unlocking items for each minigame throughout the main story. There is a sticker book game that you collect stickers for a place them in a book to tell a story; a toy car you can use, and; a pet parrot you can name and train. I do not know if there is any relevance to these side missions on the actual plot of the story, but they are there for you if you want to poke around with them.
I’ve gotten about five hours into the game already and it’s pretty much all I plan on doing the next few days. As with the other games, the story has sunk it’s hook into me already. I love a good time traveling tale, and so far this one is shaping up to be both full of action (which is surprising for the series) and mysterious, and it’s hard to pass those two up. It is my hope that anyone that has a DS (or a 3DS, since the newest entry will be coming exclusively to it in the coming months), will play at least one of these games to see how a game about puzzles and a guy wearing a top hat can be an amazing gaming experience.
I hope to be able to finish the game soon. I really can’t wait to get into the next one and then wait anxiously for the fifth game to come out. Nintendo, and more specifically publisher Level-5, have made a fantastic franchise out of Professor Layton, and I only wish to see the series flourish and become one of Nintendo’s headlining franchises. One puzzle at a time, I suppose…