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Review: Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

17 Jan

I’m going to make a bold claim here:

Layton and Luke are among the greatest duos in gaming history.

I’m serious, they’re up there with the likes of Mario & Luigi, Link & Zelda, Jak & Daxter, the list goes on. The third in the series, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future gives us the first hefty amount of back story. What it also gives us is the most action filled adventure yet, some of the trickiest and most clever puzzles the series has seen, and the same caliber of excellence seen in the two previous entries.

 


Story

The always dapper and very intelligent Professor Hershel Layton and his young, eager apprentice Luke Triton have been invited to a special presentation by a scientist claiming to have invented a working time machine. Things go awry quickly and before they know it, the machine has exploded and the scientist along with the Prime Minister (who was in attendance) have gone missing. To complicate matter further, Luke and the Professor receive a letter about a week later from someone claiming to be Luke 10 years in the future. Though skeptical, the duo proceed to follow the instruction on the note. Apparently time travel is real, because Luke and Layton arrive in a London that is 10 years in the future. Needless to say, there are plenty of mysteries to solve this time around; missing scientists, traveling through time, and a mysterious woman whom Professor Layton seems to recall. Unwound Future is easily the most story-driven of the series, and goes into Layton’s history and back story, giving the character some much needed dimensions. This is also the most bizarre story of the bunch, with some contraptions and plot points that are sort of pushing it (though it is a game, so what can I say). Overall though, Unwound Future gives players the most intense and exciting story the series has seen thus far.


Gameplay

It should come as no surprise that Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is a puzzle game. You’ll hear and read a lot (and I mean a lot) of dialogue, and in between those words you’ll be solving brain teaser, mind numbing puzzles, and even some simple math equations. Unwound Future boasts the most puzzles of any of the games (over 160), and it also has the greatest variety of puzzles. A few puzzles have you navigating through streets while avoiding bananas that cause you to slip forward; another has you using clues to figure out the age of two siblings; and yet another sees you cleverly looking at a picture to notice where a hidden arrow is located to find the correct tile. Basically, there are a good deal of different types of puzzles here to test your wit, and each of them is very different from the last. If you get a few easy puzzles, I guarantee there will be a more difficult one right around the corner that will have you stumped.

There’s plenty to do outside of puzzle solving in London. Hidden Hint Coins are scattered throughout the world and can be found by tapping on peculiar objects. Hint Coins can be used in puzzles to give tips and hints about finding the solution. You can interact with NPCs and most of them want you to help them out by solving a puzzle. Sure, it’s strange to hear someone say they are in dire straights and then not accept your help until you solve their brain teaser, but hey, it’s a game. What did you expect? There are three minigames you can participate in, and this time around they have more bearing on story elements. A car game has you placing arrows on a grid to guide Layton’s car to an exit while avoiding obstacles. A sticker book game is like a mad lib, having you place the correct stickers in blank environments in a book to complete a story. And lastly and most intriguing is the parrot minigame. In these 12 puzzles you place platforms for your parrot to navigate through to reach a goal. Completing the parrot levels will make it so your parrot points out hidden Hint Coin locations in the main game, as well as unlocking some special puzzles for you to solve.

The main game takes about 14 hours or so to complete (depending on your intelligence and strategic use of hint coins), but there’s a lot to do after completing the game. New, more challenging puzzles open up. Chances are you didn’t find every puzzle or minigame piece in your first play through, so you can go back and find those to extend the time. Completing puzzles earns piccarats, points to sort of make up your overall score, and earning a set number of piccarats will unlock special bonuses at the end of the game. As a whole, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is a fun, diverse game that gives players many ways to advance and enjoy the story.


Visuals

Unwound Future retains the art style from previous games and this is definitely a good thing. Part of my joy for the games is the fun, bright art style of the world and characters. Background are always very detailed and large, characters are unique and animated (even though they are displayed as portraits for the most part), and everything has a vivid color to it. Personality is a good word to use to describe everything: this is a game where you’ll want to hear what people have to say and you’ll feel genuine emotion for the main cast. Minor tweaks to the standard visual formula include pointless drawings accompanying the words “success” or “incorrect” when answering puzzles, and a change of font used in puzzle introductions. Though the graphics have remained largely unchanged since Curious Village, Unwound Future is one of the best looking DS games out there.


Final Thoughts

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future completes one of the greatest trilogies on the DS (and yes, I know there is another title for the system; I plan on playing it someday!). Layton and Luke give us their best adventure yet with an exciting story, an abundance of fantastic puzzles to solve, and a great (and emotional) wrap-up to their adventures. Anyone looking for a positively unique and memorable experience should look no further than this superb series. DS fans owe it to themselves to check this series out: whether they are a puzzle fiend or not. The Professor will have you in amazement before you know it.

SCORE: 9/10

 LIKES

– Memorable story and characters make this the most exciting game in the series yet
– Great variety in puzzles will keep you on your toes and test your intelligence
– Gorgeous visuals add to the game’s charm

 DISLIKES

– Not much here to lure players who didn’t like the initial two games in the series
– Story can get a bit farfetched
– Some puzzles can be solved by randomly submitting guesses and not thinking about it

Laters,
Jsick

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6 Comments

Posted by on 01/17/2012 in Nintendo DS

 

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6 responses to “Review: Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

  1. Eric

    01/25/2012 at 8:02 pm

    Great review, man. I’m still working my way through the Diabolical Box, but I can’t wait to get to this one. You will get no argument from me either about Layton and Luke being one of the greatest video game duos. They are a formidable tandem for sure.

     
    • jsicktheslick

      01/26/2012 at 12:57 pm

      One nice thing I thought about the first three games in the series is that each one was better than the last. Diabolical Box, however, has one of the better resolutions though, and is still a fantastic title!

       

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