Professor Layton and the Lost Future Review (DS)

Puzzling from the past to the present!

Professor Layton and the Lost Future Review DS
13th December, 2010 By Sarah Morris
Game Info // Professor Layton and the Lost Future
Professor Layton and the Lost Future Boxart
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Level-5
Players: 1
Subtitles: Full
Available On: DS
Genre: Puzzle (Logic and Brain Teasers)

While the world's greatest scientists may be butting heads in a constant state of limbo about whether time travel's even possible, trust Professor Layton to be whizzing back and forth in time like nobody's business. And in gaming's first Professor's third game, Professor Layton and the Lost Future, the latest instalment in the puzzle fan's favourite series, time travel is just the beginning...

Professor Layton and the Lost Future Screenshot

Well, there could be a reason for that, Luke...

The game opens at an exclusive demonstration in London, where a slightly crazy looking scientist, Dr. Stahngun, is preparing to show off his latest invention - a time machine. Managing to convince the Prime Minister to take part in his experiment, the PM steps inside the machine, only for things to go horribly wrong - there's an explosion, and the PM, Stahngun, and a number of other scientists disappear.

At the same time, Layton receives a letter from his apprentice, Luke. And while you may think there's nothing strange about that, this is a letter from a Luke who claims to be ten years in the future, asking Layton for his help. And so, having been presented with an array of mind boggling puzzles to be solved, Layton simply can't resist, as the duo set out on their biggest adventure yet.

If you've played the previous Layton games, you'll know what to expect here - but for those who haven't, we'll fill in the blanks. Professor Layton and the Lost Future is basically a collection of brain bending puzzles, from the exceedingly difficult to the surprisingly straightforward, wrapped up in an enticing story about the English gentleman and his child apprentice. Played at a relaxing pace, with accessible touch screen controls, Layton is very easy to pick up and play - although the puzzles are never that simple.

As you touch doorways, corridors and staircases on the touch screen to move around, and touch characters to talk to them in an attempt to gleam any information you can, you'll often come across puzzles, either by touching suspicious looking lamps/windows/street signs, or simply by talking to the puzzle loving residents of London. It can be a bit tenuous sometimes, as a policeman insists on you completing a puzzle before being allowed access to the station, but criticising it would be to forget what Layton is - a collection of puzzles.

Professor Layton and the Lost Future Screenshot

It's the wordy puzzles that are the best, as they're usually the most rewarding to figure out.

It's in the puzzles that Layton really comes to life - with challenges ranging from mazes to maths, from lateral to logical, and from symbol decoding to riddles, there's a huge variety on offer here. Without any assistance, Layton could be a real brick wall, but thankfully, there are a number of ways you can make things that little bit easier for yourself. If you need to take notes while solving a puzzle, you can bring up a memo, which effectively puts a translucent sheet over the puzzle you're solving, allowing you to mark things of interest in eight different colours, and try out different answers in your head. If you're really stuck, however, there's always the hint coins. Found by touching random things that look like they may be of interest while wandering the streets, you can use hint coins to buy yourself, well, a hint, helping to point you in the right direction. There are three standard hints available, each of which is a little more revealing than the last, while there's now a super hint, which does its best to spell out what you've got to do, without explicitly giving you the answer. It's this that's one of the most rewarding aspects of Professor Layton - rather than skipping over any puzzles you can't do, usually one or two hints are enough to point you in the right direction if you're mega stuck - and there's nothing that quite matches the feeling of completing a puzzle all by yourself. You'll feel like a genius - and to solve some of the puzzles, you'll need to be.

What's disappointing is that some of the questions are badly worded, slipping out of the territory of being a riddle, and ending up just being downright confusing about what you have to do. On one puzzle, even the super hint didn't help us, and we had to look the answer up on the internet - as did everyone we tried it on. That's not the sign of a hard puzzle, that's the sign of a badly designed one. Every puzzle may have an answer, but some are often solved purely through guess work of for entirely the wrong reasons.

Professor Layton and the Lost Future Screenshot

Touch the boot to move from screen to screen, the chest to access your inventory, and everything else to try and find any hidden puzzles!

Thankfully, the times this happen are few and far between, as Layton usually serves you a good mixture of challenging puzzles, followed by ones you'll breeze through, so your confidence never takes too much of a beating. That said, it is somewhat disappointing that we actually came across a few puzzles we simply couldn't do, even with the hints, which is the first time we've had that in a Layton game.

If you ever get bored of the puzzles, there are even a few mini games to keep you engrossed - but don't go thinking you can give your brain a break. The Toy Car puzzles, which see you placing arrows on the ground, in an attempt to drive your car from one side of a map to another, while avoiding any obstacles, will really test your logic and observation, while the Parrot games follow a similar idea. Comic relief, on the other hand, comes in the form of the picture book. As you complete puzzles throughout the game, you'll be rewarded with stickers, which you then have to place into a sticker book in a logical order to form a story. You'll have a number of missing objects, such as [a purple thing] or [a tree], and it's up to you to put the bits in the right place. Here's what we ended up with:

"I suddenly got to a big square with an old man in the middle. Underneath the old man, I saw a plum gathering something, so I said "I found some things that someone dropped in the meadow. Have you seen anyone looking anxious?" Twiddling his moustache, the plum glanced at the objects I was holding and replied "Oh, that's where my hat went. Thanks for bringing it back!""

Needless to say, we don't think we've got it quite right - but it certainly gives you something to do when you need a break from the brain teasers.

But with an engrossing story, a wide variety of puzzles to keep you occupied (of which there are over 165 in total), and the ability to connect to the internet, and download a new puzzle every week for a year through the Nintendo WiFi Connection, Professor Layton is one of the most rewarding games around. If you ever feel down, you could do much worse than giving Professor Layton a go - because as soon as you've cracked one of the puzzles, you'll be on cloud nine. Just don't feel too bad about using the hint coins - sometimes, it's the puzzles, not you.

Format Reviewed: Nintendo DS

StarStarStarStarHalf star
A practically perfect DS puzzle game.
  • +
    Plenty of puzzles.
  • +
    Really taxes your brain.
  • +
    Interesting story involving Layton's emotional side.
  • -
    Occasionally awkward puzzles.
  • -
    Poorly worded riddles in places.
  • -
    Just the few dodgy puzzles, really!
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