Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Diabolical Box sticks with the first game’s formula almost exactly. While it may not be a fresh concept, more story and puzzles are all the Layton series needs to appease fans.
The plot follows Luke and Layton as they investigate the death of Layton’s mentor, supposedly caused by opening the legendarily dangerous Elysian Box. Clues guide them to hitch a ride on the Molentary Express and travel from town to town. This structure allows for much more environment variety than the single city backdrop of the first game, though the on-train sections become tedious once you’ve gone back and forth a few times.
Puzzles are tied more closely to the world this time, as you’ll swap train cars to clear the tracks ahead or solve a puzzle on a door to get through the lock. Most of the puzzles are still random challenges from a townsperson, however. You trace the paths of tangled wires, try to imagine 2D drawings in 3D space, and jump a knight around a chessboard. I didn’t come across any challenge as obtuse as the chocolate bar in the first game, but having a knowledge of Level-5’s previous bag of tricks helps in solving this new batch.
Most of the new content is found in the collectibles and minigames. You collect toys to exercise a fat hamster so he can find hidden hint coins. Grabbing camera pieces will eventually unlock a picture matching game, and your tea set will get a workout trying to make the perfect blend for the townspeople you come across. These entertaining tasks do a great job of keeping you on the lookout for extras while hoofing it through town and pumping sources.
I enjoyed the storytelling in Diabolical Box, as well as the new characters like Sammy, the rock ‘n roll train conductor. But some of the big reveals are particularly groan worthy, and two story clichés are unfortunately repeated in this sequel that I hope aren’t carried over to the third entry.