Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Posted 2 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
There are times when we play video games because we want to have some mindless entertainment. Then there are times when we want to stimulate the brain and have a sense of accomplishment when we do something right or get past a challenging situation. The previous two North American releases of the Professor Layton series on the Nintendo DS has managed to offer not only fantastic stories and tons of content, but they have also been able to educate us. The third game in the series, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future continues to give DS owners a fantastical story and the sense of feeling smarter.
This time around, we see the famed Professor and his trusty apprentice Luke involved in a mysterious time-warp scenario and spend the majority of the game travelling between their present day London and another one set ten years in the future. To spew out too many details regarding the story would spoil key plot points, but both Layton and Luke play important parts in both time frames and must work together - along side other characters they meet along the way - in order to make things right.
For some, the idea of time travel may seem odd, but the plot fits the Layton universe wonderfully and is actually done in some fairly creative ways. This isn’t “Back to the Future”-styled time-traveling, but there are some creative things that occur in both periods.
The Layton series is all about puzzle-solving and there are plenty of them to be found. For those familiar with the series, you will feel right at home with the types of challenges awaiting you. There are still some throw-back puzzles that will remind you of the past games, such as moving block puzzles, but they’ve also thrown in a fair share of new puzzles including ones that require you to carefully think before you answer. Yes, they still have variations puzzles, but again, they aren’t quite as frequent and the difficulty of them ramp up at a fair pace.
For those who find certain puzzles challenging - and you will experience more than a handful along the way - the hint and memo system have both been improved this time around. In regards to using the game’s note/memo pad, you now have the ability to use different colors and thickness to help differentiate specific lines. This does become helpful for some puzzles, but at the same time you may face some problems when you try to jot down a lot of information on your small DS screen.
The other modification comes with the hints. In the past, you’ve been able to collect hint coins hidden throughout the game which can be spent on clues to help solve puzzles. Where in the past you had three hints which progressively gave you more information to help you solve each one, they have now introduced a Super Hint which follows after the first three. Now, for the cost of two-hint coins, this fourth clue essentially gives you the formula to solve the puzzle, leaving you only to select or jot down the answer required to proceed.
Most people shouldn’t need to rely on using the Super Hint too often but its inclusion is great for those who find certain puzzles too difficult. As with past games, there are a lot of hint-coins to be found, so you never should be worried about getting stumped or stuck as you attempt progress through this sizable adventure.
On top of a fun and colorful story, the Layton series is always packed with additional content. The number of puzzles this time around peaks well over 165 and as with the previous games, additional ones can be unlocked via WiFi. In addition to that, there are always a few mini-games within the story for you to find and play. This time around though, the games aren’t that memorable. The first that you unlock is a Picture Book game which has you fill in the blanks of a story to make it cohesive. There is one specific way each of the three stories should turn-out, but your mistakes could lead to some funny results. The other two games don’t share the same charm. The toy car stage has you trying to lead a race car around various courses collecting objects. The last game has you taking a parrot you find and have it deliver items through a stage by helping it get to its destination. Thankfully, none of these are really required to progress through the story, so you’re not really forced into doing them if you choose not to.
Layton’s London, both present and future, looks fantastic and the same art-style of past games is graces the screen here. There is a lot of color and variety in the locations you visit and you will visit quite a few different locations. There are even some nice touches done to reflect the 10 year progression of the city and your characters make note of this. Of course, you will still need to visit the same spots more than a few times, but you won’t get bored doing so.
The use of cinematics has also increased in the third game. There are a lot more cut-scenes and these also look fantastic on the DS. The amount of spoken lines of dialogue has been boosted over previous efforts as well. While the majority of the story is still done through text, the sections that have spoken dialogue are all done really well and you will even encounter a few surprises along the way. Lastly, the music - which has been so incredible in past games - returns and it delivers in absorbing you into the game’s world.
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future offers the same great experience from the last two games. The puzzles feel much more challenging and will require you to pay close attention to what is asked of you. The story does a fine job of letting us experience something different. Fans will jump right in and feel right at home, but newcomers shouldn’t shy away. You might not know some of the back-story and may question the existence of some of the characters, but if you’re in need of something different and want to exercise the brain, this is the correct answer.
+ Great puzzles with few repeating ones
+ Tons of content
+ Super hints are extremely helpful
+ More cinematics
+ Still has some of the best music around
- Mini-games aren’t as strong as past games
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Release Date : 2010/09/12
System : Nintendo DS
Publisher : Nintendo
Developer : Level-5
Category : Puzzle
ESRB : E
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