Professor Layton and the Last Specter
The first puzzle game with professor Layton and his sidekick Luke was from the start a great success. “Professor Layton and the Mysterious Village” was after all an engaging game which provided lots of fun, with consequently several sequels following in its path. Building on those successes, we’ve now reached the fourth game released in the West. Puzzle fun forever or do we see the first cracks of age appear?
In Professor Layton and the Last Specter we take a trip down memory lane to the mystery that meant the acquaintance of Layton and his later sidekick Luke. A mysterious ghostly appearance wreaks havoc in the village of which Luke’s father is the mayor, accompanied by an even more mysterious flute melody. It looks like an old legend has come to life and of course professor Layton is more than willing to crack this riddle.
The known gameplay is also employed in this Layton games: between the main characters and the solution of the mystery a great deal of puzzles are waiting. And with a great deal, we really mean a great deal. To help you solve them, there’s the possibility to get hints at the cost of collected hint coins and a wrong answer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s game over, even though it means you get less points. Some puzzles are however necessary to get along in the story and game. The hint system is unfortunately not always that helpful: sometimes it doesn’t manage to tell you more than you already know and at times it just gives the answer away.
We can’t complain about the variety and difficulty level of the puzzles: no two puzzles are alike and by the end of the game you will have seen a lot of them. The difficulty level varies too: some puzzles are quite easy, while others require the necessary hard thinking. Thanks to the hint coins, it’s not really possible to get stuck. Nintento even offers the hardcore fans the possibility to download some new puzzles weekly.
As usually this Laytongame is charming as ever: the whole is finished to the finest details and the game has some kind of magic touch. Because there has been attention to detail and the presentation, the game is also interesting to the non-puzzle freak. The main disadvantage of Layton puzzle games however, is that they aren’t particulary refreshing and renewing, apart from the brand new puzzles and minigames the formula is still the same as in previous games.
The story is mostly told with some nice cutscenes, which are as usual little cartoons. The game we got to review, was a localised (Dutch) version. Personally I prefer to at least have the choice between different languages, because the voicing of localised versions aren’t always up to par. However, in the case of Professor Layton clearly a lot of work has been put in ensuring that voicing is of a more than decent quality.
In conclusion it is clear that Professor Layton and the Last Specter offers a good mix of an engaging story and an extant variation of puzzles. However, except for new puzzles there isn’t much new to see and the question is whether the series will be able to keep this up with the same success. But in any case this game still manages to be as charming as ever and it’s certainly a nice game to spend your evenings with. Well, some of them at least.