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What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
After five games and a film, Professor Layton is ready to retire. This isn’t the end of the franchise, but developer Level-5 says the Azran Legacy marks the last Professor Layton game featuring the titular puzzle master in a starring role.
The Azran Legacy closes out the prequel trilogy that chronologically begins with The Last Spector and continues with The Miracle Mask. The Azran Legacy stands alone, as do all of Layton’s stories, but continues the relationships established in the previous games, and neatly rolls into Curious Village with a post-credits teaser. During Layton’s journey to discover the mysteries of the Azran (wherein he finally does some archeological work as opposed to his usual non-academic heroics), he solves puzzles and uncovers history left behind by an ancient, technologically advanced race.
In Professor Layton’s world, puzzles are traded like currency for information and favors. It makes no sense why someone would need to solve a puzzle about melting a giant ice cube in order to find a person’s location, but such is the charm of the Layton franchise. Thankfully, not all the puzzles in the Azran Legacy feel so forced into the narrative as the ice cube example.
Most of Azran’s puzzles involve sliding blocks and literal puzzle piece arrangement in order to unlock ancient doors. I preferred the logic puzzles and the difficult-to-define puzzle type where you examine an image looking for clues, but those are rare. If you run into trouble, the hint coin system can help you find a solution with little punishment. The puzzles are new, but the structure is the same as previous Layton games. If you’ve played Layton before, you know what to expect.
The story adopts a grim tone near the end, which took me by surprise. It dives into Layton’s family history and ties up some loose ends explaining where characters like Layton’s assistant Emmy Altava has disappeared to in the following games. A lot of poorly executed twists occur in the closing hours, some of which feel like they are present purely to surprise as opposed to advancing the narrative.
Level-5 insists this is the end of Professor Layton taking top billing. The franchise will continue in unknown directions, but The Azran Legacy offers a worthwhile conclusion that adheres closely to the same formula that made Layton so beloved.
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