Reviewed on: 3DS
Reviewed by Brady Ruiters
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is the latest title in the series of popular puzzle games. It is the sixth title in the series and features a new adventure filled with investigations, mysteries and puzzles for Layton and his team to delve into.
The story follows the famous Archaeology Professor, Hershel Layton, his ever eager apprentice, Luke and Layton’s energetic assistant, Emmy. The Professor receives a letter from a Professor Sycamore who claims to have found a “living mummy”. The team then fly to the snow-covered town of Froenborg to meet Professor Sycamore and investigate the interesting letter that he has sent. Without giving away too many details, I’ll say that the plot of the game is rather interesting. The game is very story based and is supported by a good cast of characters that help the story move along at a decent pace. There is one main mystery in the game but there are also some side stories for players to enjoy. The only complaint I had regarding the story was that the pace slowed to a bit of a crawl after the halfway point, turning progression into a bit of a tedious experience.
The series has always been about challenging the player with some tricky puzzles. That hasn’t changed much as puzzles are pretty much what make this game. Puzzles come in the form of math problems, following patterns and organisation. Some are easy but trick you into thinking they’re not while others are just so hard to wrap your head around that you start to question your sanity. There is a wide array of different puzzles from start to finish and will definitely challenge even the most hardcore puzzle solvers. Each puzzle is worth a certain amount of Picarats – the game’s currency. The more Picarats a puzzle is worth, the more challenging it will be. Submit the wrong answer to a puzzle and the number of Picarats earned will decrease. Thankfully, there are hints to aid the player if they are really struggling with the game’s many conundrums. To make use of a hint however, players will need Hint Coins. One hint will cost one coin and super hints will cost two. These coins can be found in nearly all areas of the game so exploration is very important. Gameplay is very much a point and click affair when it comes exploring the various areas in the game. Investigating the areas will yield side stories, more puzzles and hint coins. The puzzles featured in the game are very much like those featured in its predecessors. They may change the problem and solution a bit but the title ultimately lacks some new features.
Thankfully, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy does have some fun minigames that become available as the player progresses. They are Dress Up, Nut Roller, and Blooms and Shrooms. The first sees players take on the role of a fashion consultant, having to put together outfits that match the client’s style requirements. Nut Roller is quite a bit of fun; players take control of a squirrel that has to safely manoeuvre its nut across an obstacle course into the safe area. Finally, Blooms and Shrooms will have players tending a garden and planting flora that produces an energy that helps trees grow. Plants are placed on a grid and the energy they produce will either flow vertically or horizontally. Determining what arrangement works best for the trees is the key to mastering this mode. Players will also have to try to avoid growing poisonous mushrooms as they release a toxic gas, which hampers progress.
Visually, the game doesn’t disappoint. The game is presented well and each area is a pleasure to explore. Animations are rather smooth and the anime cutscenes look really good. Pushing the 3D slider all the way up just enhances all the visuals of the game and it looks amazing.
Audio is much on par with the visuals of the title. The orchestra-like score delivers appropriate music for each situation while using a piano track during puzzles. The latter does a good job at creating an atmosphere for critical thinking. The characters don’t always talk during the game and most of the text will have to be read but when the characters do talk during cutscenes and some conversations, it’s very well done.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is a good game. It has an interesting story and is well paced until the halfway point in the game where it becomes a bit of a chore. Gameplay has remained largely the same; investigation and puzzles are the main activities in the game. Unfortunately, the puzzle structure lacks some new features.
Visually, the title does not disappoint, regardless of whether players will be using the 3D functionality or not. Audio is on par with the visuals and helps with creating comfortable atmospheres for players to think. Voice acting is also well done, bringing the various characters in the game to life. This game is definitely for the puzzle fanatics and critical thinkers looking for a worthy challenge.