The lights are on
While still a relatively obscure game in Nintendo’s pantheon of classic series, the Professor Layton series has nevertheless delivered some of the best puzzles and character writing rarely seen in the puzzle game genre of recent memory with it’s original entry of Professor Layton and the Curious Village. It’s second entry this year of Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box provides even greater promise to an already fantastic story as developers continue to match intellect and wit in this clever handheld.
Leaving the alleys and streets of the curious village behind, Professor Hershel Layton and eager apprentice Luke Triton embark on the decadent Excess Express to uncover clues to the dangerous secret of the diabolical box that ended the life of the professor’s former mentor. There can’t really be more to be said about the plot without spoilers, but it can be described as either a hit-or-miss depending on one’s attraction for illogically unforeseen surprises.
The sequel certainly gives an impressive share of cartoon cutscenes with full animation and voice-acting and each of them led a good deal of emotion to the plot and mood, bringing characters to life and outside of at times, tedious text dialogue for rest of the game. The graphics pleasantly render the modern victorian, european look to the setting in shining color and art style, along with the playful caricature look to the characters.
What fans can be most satisfied with will be the addition of helpful aids in the continued puzzle gameplay. Unlike it’s predecessor, The Diabolical Box provides players with notes, or memos, to write on along side the puzzles worked on, eliminating the need for tiresome writing on real-world paper to solve the myriad of math, word, and pictograph puzzles. The same amount of dragging and tapping of the DS stylus are still used for the puzzles and exploring the environment and seem to be far better implemented in their frequency of necessity than the Curious Village and never seem to get tiresome. The puzzles themselves retain their wit and great difficulty and while working well, can be said by some (perhaps the overwhelmed and frustrated) to be simply too challenging occasionally. I particularly point to the game’s tricky block puzzles when saying this.
Nevertheless, whatever tough puzzles to lie for players, nothing but a good spot of tea and elbow-grease won’t fail to get you to the end, which is well-worth it for it’s odd though satisfying ending. It can get slow, hard, and challenging, but never without a great feeling of accomplishment with likable characters. As the game ends in another preview of the next tale, I’m pleased to say that Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box is a good puzzle game with proper English culture not to be missed.
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