Editor: Diane Hutchinson Editor@girlgamersuk.com

Layton’s home, but the Prof is nowhere to be seen.

 
Level-5’s Layton games did something magical on Nintendo’s handhelds. I remember being with my auntie and seeing here pull a DS from her handbag and start playing a Layton game. She was in here 60’s and I have no idea where she heard about the game, but it obviously interested her enough to make her buy a DS. The combination of mini-puzzles all wrapped in a larger mystery was enough for her to put aside her Sudoku books and pick up a video game, and I am sure she was not the only person of the older generation that found themselves drawn to this series of games.

 
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That first Layton game must have done well, because Level-5 just kept pushing them out on the DS, and then on the 3DS. However, with the last game releasing back in 2014, fans of the series were just chomping at the bit to get their hands on and wrap their minds around another Layton mystery. And so, along came Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy. But with this new title cam some pretty major changes.

 
The most important change, and one that will likely have the most impact on the future of the series, is that Layton’s Mystery Journey first released on mobile devices. The game has now arrived on the 3DS, but there has already been a couple of months for mobile players to pick up the game on Android or iOS. In some ways, this is good news as it invites a whole new audience of non-handheld owning gamers to enjoy the game. However, this does mean that the hardcore Layton fans have had to wait to get their fix, or succumb and play the game on mobile. Technically, there is very little difference between the two different versions, they are pretty much the same game and work just as well on either platform.

 
However, the cost of joining this puzzle adventure are where the real problem lies. For mobile gamers, the idea of paying out £16 for a game is enough to bring on palpitations. On the 3DS, gamers will have to pay double for the pleasure, with the game costing around £35, which strangely feels more normal for a 3DS, despite the same game being less than half that on mobile. It is as mind-bending as some of the puzzles in Layton that the mobile version feels overpriced, while the full price 3DS version seems reasonable.

 
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Anyway, however you decide to play it, there is another big change that players will have to get their heads around. The top hat-wearing, thoughtful-looking Professor is gone. Where has he gone? Well, that is the mystery hanging over his daughter, Katrielle, as she takes up the lead in Layton’s Mystery Journey. It is the young Katrielle’s turn to step into the spotlight as she starts here own investigation agency and takes on a series of seemingly unrelated cases. There is also a new cast of supporting characters, including a talking dog, that are there to help Kat out.

 
The story is fun, and it is nice to get to know the new characters. However, the story really does take the back seat to the puzzles here, something which may be a concession for the mobile gamer. Fortunately, nothing much has changed when it comes to the puzzles, they are just as brilliant as ever.

 
Layton’s Mystery Journey manages to pack in hundreds of little puzzles, more than any previous game in the series. Ranging from math puzzles and word games, to logic puzzles and sliding blocks, the variety of the puzzles is impressive, and they can range from seemingly simple to slightly mind-bending. Hint coins are still around to help out players when, not if, they get stuck on a puzzle, and there are always more to find if the player is really struggling.

 
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Of course, all of these little puzzles make up a larger mystery, represented by the case Kat is currently working on. The setting is somewhat less globe-trotting than many of the previous games, being set in London, but the player will still explore, looking for clues, hint coins and yet more mini-puzzles. There are also a bunch of side activities to enjoy, such as a dress up game, arranging stock in a shop or helping the talking dog escape from the pound. They are all good fun, and go towards packing this title with content, something which is further bolstered by the promise of daily puzzles for at least the next year. In all, there is a lot to do in Layton’s Mystery Journey.

 
So, the game has been launched on new platforms, with wildly differing prices, and the Professor has been replaced with a young girl. They are pretty big differences, and multiple smaller cases replacing an overall mystery further change the format, but when it comes to the gameplay, it is pretty much the same as it has ever been. There are few new ideas, and those that do come along really don’t make any impact. The Professor may have left, but it doesn’t feel like the series has evolved since the last outing.

 
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Not that it really needs evolving. Layton’s Mystery Journey is a great puzzle game on the 3DS. It is up to the player to get their heads around the different platforms and the pricing inconsistencies, but they can rest assured that this latest outing is as entertaining as a Layton game ever has been, and is crammed with content to keep the player going for many weeks to come. Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy may feel familiar and perhaps even a little tired, but it is a great puzzle game that will appeal to both old fans and new.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 



 

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