Layton’s Mystery Journey Review – Written by Jose Vega
Product provided by Nintendo for the purposes of this review.
For more than a decade, the Layton series has graces fans with challenging puzzles and stories that get people intrigued and on their seats. It is quite a franchise with 6 main games, an animated movie, a spin-off and a crossover with the Ace Attorney series. In 2016, Level-5 announced a new entry into the Layton series starring a new female protagonist. It would eventually be revealed as Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle & the Millionaire’s Conspiracy. The game would be released first on mobile devices in July with the 3DS not receiving it till October. It has been a month since the game’s release. Does this game deserve the title of being part of the Layton series?
The story centers on Katrielle Layton, daughter of the famous Prof. Hershel Layton, who runs a private detective agency along with her assistant Ernest Greeves. Meeting a talking dog named Sherl or “Sherl O.C Kholmes”, it asks Katrielle to help it regain its memories. Upon solving a case of one of Big Ben’s hour hands disappearing, Kat, Ernest and Sherl soon get involved in a series of cases related to the “Seven Dragons”, seven of London’s most rich and influential people leading to an unexpected conclusion. All the while, Katrielle hopes to find out what happened to her father who had disappeared.
This story got me hooked and intrigued from start to finish. Unlike previous Layton games, its story isn’t one continuous tale. Rather its split between 12 cases with each of them sharing an overarching theme. Its theme makes sense for the game and by the time it’s over, you’ll pretty much feel more of an appreciation for the characters.
If you played a Layton game, you will feel right at home here. Layton’s Mystery Journey has you investigating each case in various locations, trying to find information, solve puzzles and get clues needed to solve the case. It’s split into two sections: Investigation and Puzzle. Investigation is where you’ll spend most of the game on. You use the touch screen to look around and search every nook and cranny. It’s needed to find stuff like hint coins, collectibles and puzzles. Hint coins help when you tackle tough puzzles whereas puzzles themselves are what the Layton series are best known for. Collectibles are mostly for completionist purposes. There are also fashion coins that can be used to unlock many outfits for Katrielle to wear. It’s for cosmetic purposes but it helps give Kat a bit of variety in what she can wear.
Puzzles are the second section and each case has a multitude of them for you to tackle. Each puzzle will award you Picarats for solving them. The higher the Picarats, the more difficult the puzzle can be. But honestly, the puzzles aren’t that hard. The game does provide hints at the expense of hint coins but most players can figure them out without much difficulty. You do get penalized if you fail by means of reduced picarats but it’s not as bad. The game also has additional mini games you unlock as you progress through the story. They offer some variety and in turn, you unlock more puzzles for you to solve via Kat’s Conundrum.
Layton’s Mystery Journey isn’t a long game. Overall it’ll take you probably 14-16 hours to complete and the mini-games and added puzzles will add an hour or two more. The good news is that it gives you the option to go back to previous cases you completed to find any puzzles or hint coins you missed. It’s a needed relief for those that want to get full completion. Not much else to say about it since it’s a Layton game and all.
As far as its presentation goes, it’s exactly what you’d expect for a Layton game. Although it did come out on mobile platforms, for a 3DS port, it’s pretty good. It keeps the charm and feel of the Layton games to a T. The characters are easy to like, many having motivations that are relatable. I felt they helped the story out and there was a character that I didn’t like. Music is pretty good, with some carrying a sense of Ace Attorney familiarity. The voice acting is nice with the talent being well done for a Layton game. Cutscenes are aplenty here, courtesy of A-1 Pictures. It’s impressive to say the least.
If there is anything that I find to be negative, it’s that the game can feel a bit too simple and predictable. Since Layton’s Mystery Journey follows things in a case-by-case basis, the way in which it goes does get repetitive after a while. The puzzles are in some cases real easy to beat compared to previous games. Also the game has DLC and it’s in the form of unlocking additional costumes and puzzles. The costumes are cosmetic but fun while the puzzles are a step-up making them harder versions of puzzles you completed. Unlike the iOS version, you don’t have to spend much so that is a sense of reprieve. There are also free bonus puzzles, as Level-5 has stated that the game will provide a new puzzle every day for an entire year. Great for those that wants to try their luck.
In conclusion, Layton’s Mystery Journey is a worthy addition to the Layton franchise, despite a few issues. The story is easy to get into, the characters are likeable and the gameplay feels like a Layton game should. Despite some negatives, the game is an enjoyable experience and I recommend this. If you are new to the series then this is a good place to start. However if you have played a Layton game then you’ll find it to be a bit too simple. Regardless it’s one mystery you should solve. I only hope we get a sequel.
I give Layton’s Mystery Journey an 8 out of 10.