Puzzle solving and courtroom drama, all wrapped in a mystery.
World famous archaeologist Professor Layton and rookie Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright join forces in the Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney mash-up on 3DS.
The story unfolds as two people flee from the wreckage of a car accident as they are pursued by some terrifying witches. Fleeing the scene of the accident, they become separated and, in a desperate bid to escape and seek refuge, young girl Espella calls upon the help of Professor Layton’s expert puzzle solving and logical skills to find out what this terrifying force could be. Espella is confused about where she is and finds safety in Professor Layton’s study, only to be whisked away to an unknown place.
Professor Layton and sidekick Luke are hot on the trail after receiving a letter from Carmine Accidenti, explaining a series of unusual events occurring during his investigation in a small town called Labyrinthia. This town held a mysterious secret and was not located on any map. Curious and eager to investigate this bizarre scenario, Layton and Luke embark on another journey of discovery.
Meanwhile, we see Phoenix Wright accompanied by his assistant Maya on a transatlantic flight heading to London, coming to England on the Legal League of Attorney’s exchange. Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright’s services are called upon to defend a client. Young girl Estella Cantabella is accused of illegally boarding a freighter ship and getting herself into some trouble. Without going into too much detail of the story and completely spoiling the plot, we find a series of flicking back and forth from Professor Layton’s investigations and the courtroom drama of Phoenix Wright.
For fans of the Professor Layton series, we are still introduced to new environments to explore with the trusty use of Layton’s magnifying glass. Investigating objects of interest, discovering hidden gold coins, gaining picarats and engaging in conversation with a whole host of strange and colourful characters. Nothing much has changed from the original Professor Layton games we have come to know and love. The game has a nice selection of puzzles, sent to torment your mind, or simply solve in a blink of an eye and generally speaking are well balanced to test your logical and lateral thinking skills. If you can’t solve a puzzle, you can return to its original location at a later date, therefore enabling you to progress in the story.
Your role as Phoenix Wright is played out in a court room drama, in a similar manner to the original Ace Attorney titles and you’ll stand in court defending your client Estella Cantabella. In the court session, you’ll be engaging with a selection of funny witness characters, who will give their testimonies and your role is to gather the evidence, cross-examine the witness and press each witness for further information. The judge allows you five attempts to find holes in the testimonies which are backed up with evidence, and these attempts are marked with blue exclamation marks in the top corner. Raise an objection without the right evidence to back it up, and you lose an exclamation mark. Lose all five and you fail the case. If you fail the case you can retry the session, however this can be quite lengthy.
You’ll have to find contradictions in the witnesses’ statements and investigate your gathered information in the form of photographs and various objects. Luckily, if you’ve found hidden gold coins on your journey, you can use these to help in your investigations if you find yourself a little stuck in places. If you’re not familiar with the Ace Attorney format, you might find it a little difficult to interpret the gameplay, and find yourself at a bit of a loose end. However, the court sessions are quite interesting with some comedic characters taking to the stand. Early on, you’ll meet cheesy Johnny Smiles, who likes to grin and show his brilliant white teeth, while flicking his black shades off his nose in a manner that makes you cringe. Or you might take to female expert potato peeler, Olivia Aldente, who likes nothing more than to play around with a giant carving knife and slippery Eel when she’s delighting us with her culinary skills.
The court room game-play is funny, but remains logical at the same time. Gathering your evidence and looking for clues or contradictions can be interesting, or a little hard if you’ve not pressed a character at the right time. You might find yourself easily missing a clue if you’ve not fully interrogated the witnesses or applied pressure on the characters to get to the truth. This can be frustrating at times, especially if you’re not familiar with the Ace Attorney games.
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the Professor Layton series and not really given any time to the Phoenix Wright series, but I can see how mixing the two can give you different elements of game-play to indulge in. As Layton, you’re still given the choice to explore, and discover at your own pace, while the Phoenix Wright side of the game pushes you to pursue answers and solutions with various characters in order to progress.
There is a fine balance of Wright and Layton in this puzzling title, mixed with a nice animated cut scenes, colourful characters and an immersive storyline. You’ll find a good number of puzzles to get your brain cogs turning and an enchanting and mysterious story to unravel. Whether you’re a fan of Professor Layton or Phoenix Wright, there’s plenty of entertainment and amusement to be enjoyed in this title. Tea Loving Layton is still intriguing as always and I don’t think Phoenix Wright will have any objection to this partnership.