Review: Professor Layton and the Curious Village

I got Professor Layton and the Curious Village a few weeks ago, in my Easter basket from Mom & Dad. I was surprised, as Mom doesn’t always have the best track record when it comes to picking out games and movies as gifts, unless she’s working from a list. Professor Layton and the Curious Village seemed like it was perfect for me; a puzzle game with an story and plot, for the Nintendo DS.

The game centers on Professor Layton and his apprentice, Luke. As the game starts, the pair are en route to a village named St. Mystere by invitation of Lady Dahlia, widow of the late Baron Reinhold. In his will, Baron Reinhold stated that whoever solved the mystery of the Golden Apple would inherit his entire estate. Unfortunately, no one in the village has a clue what the Golden Apple is.

The gameplay is fairly simple; using the shoe icon in the corner of the touchscreen, you move about the village. To talk to villagers or inspect your surroundings, touch them with the stylus. Villagers normally have a puzzle for you to solve, or information to help in your investigation. Inspecting the scenery can turn up hidden puzzles or hint coins, which are used to unlock hints on more difficult puzzles.

I was pleasantly surprised by the cut scenes in the game; the voice acting and animation were some of the best I’ve seen on the Nintendo DS, and I was not expecting that from a puzzle game. Some of the puzzles were rather obscure – not difficult, just rather vague and a bit more lateral than logical. The hidden puzzles and hint coins were a bit difficult to find, at times; I explored one shop countless times, missing the one object I had to inspect in order to unlock a puzzle.

As a whole, I enjoyed the game, and was happy to learn that after you finish the game, there is still more. There are 120 puzzles in the game proper, 15 bonus puzzles unlocked for completing sub-quests within the game, and then weekly downloadable puzzles via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. There are also sequels in the Professor Layton series – Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box has already been released in Japan and Professor Layton and the Last Time Travel is currently in the works.

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