Discover the origins of Professor Layton and Luke’s relationship whilst solving a whole bunch of head-scratching puzzles.
Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call is the fourth game in the Layton series and a prequel that takes place three years before the events in the Curious Village, telling the story of how Professor Layton first met his future sidekick, Luke Triton. This DS adventure explains the relationship between Luke and the Sherlock Holmes-style solver as they concentrate their efforts to solve a mystery surrounding young Luke’s town.
At the beginning of this adventure, Professor Layton receives a letter from an old college friend, explaining that the town of Misthallery is in great peril and the livelihood of the local residents is being threatened. His friend is the mayor of Misthallery and it’s not long before we discover the letter is not from Mayor Clark Triton, but his son, Luke. Luke is a slightly depressed individual, but has discovered a natural talent of being able to predict the appearances of a mysterious ghost.
Professor Layton starts the story with his assistant Emmy Altava, who has been appointed to him by the dean of Gressenheller University. once they arrive in the sleepy town of Misthallery, there is an air of mystery and before long they hear of a local ghost who helps the residents in times of troubles and leaves everyone feeling protected. But things have taken a turn for the worse and the ghost has become mischievous, often appearing in a deep fog to destroy houses.
Of course, Professor Layton once again puts on his thinking cap in the quaint town, to solve this latest mystery. As with the other games, the puzzles take the form of riddles, block puzzles and brainteasers, testing your knowledge and demanding that you think logically. Some of the puzzles are fairly easy and others will really put a strain on the brain, although if you get stuck on a puzzle you’ve got the opportunity to choose from three basic hints, or a super hint if you’re really struggling.
As before in previous Layton games, the main gameplay is wandering around, talking to every resident and finding a selection of collectibles. There are a nice selection of mini games to entertain you, which is a mild distraction from the main storyline. As you progress through the game, you’ll find additional mini games to enlighten you such as the Toy Train, in which you must place down tracks for the train so it can travel to it’s destination using as few pieces as possible and passing through all the stations. Other new mini games include helping a fish to collect coins and a rather odd puppet theatre, where you use verbs to work out the outcome of a text based story.
Each scene in the Layton games consists of meeting new characters, and some familiar ones, and engaging in some quite long conversations. With over 150 brainteasers to keep the cogs of your brain running and multiple mini games to test your skills and reaction time, it’s filled with enough content to keep you entertained for quite a while. There are also hidden artifacts to collect throughout the game to keep you amused, although they are not relevant to the main storyline.
The disappointment to this new adventure of the Layton series is that it does not contain the addtional mini RPG game ‘London Life’, something that North America and Japan were entitled to, which would of given UK gamers a chance to play another 100 extra hours of gameplay. The fact that it is completely missing from the EU release has brought the score down a bit this time round. People always want more for their money’s worth and without this additional little extra, we do feel slightly short changed.
Overall, if you’ve been a fan of the Professor Layton titles, then your expectations from this one will be fulfilled. It offers new puzzles and brainteasers to stimulate the brain and a few additional extras to engage in your problem solving skills. Graphically, it’s still a masterpiece and Professor Layton continues to baffle the minds of many gamers, but this time giving a brief insight into his relationship with Luke Triton. Essentially, the core gameplay remains the same, with just a few slight differences and a new story. Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call remains a winning formula, but I think we need to see the Hershel Layton franchise move in a new direction, out of it’s comfort zone in order to remain the puzzling grandmaster on the Nintendo DS.