Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke return to solve their most perplexing mystery yet.

By CallMeLuke, Posted 26 Dec 2010

So long as the Nintendo DS is around, the point and click adventure genre will remain strong. This is proven by the Professor Layton series, which now has three installments stateside. Its latest sequel The Unwound Future brings to the DS a whole slew of new puzzles, the same charming graphics and characters and the greatest, most complex and downright touching story of the franchise.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future Review

It all starts one day in London when Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke receive a mysterious letter asking for help. What makes the letter so intriguing is that it's signed by Luke, from 10 years into the future. The future Luke suggests to the two puzzle solvers to check out a time machine demonstration that will happen shortly. They do so, and something goes horribly wrong with the experiment, ending in an explosion that causes the attending prime minister and several scientists to go missing. When Layton and Luke further investigate, they come across another time machine that seemingly whisks them away 10 years into the future. They then meet up with the future Luke, and the three of them will attempt to unravel a multi-layered mystery the likes of which they have never encountered before.

The Unwound Future does very little differently from its previous games. If you never played a Professor Layton game, it's a point and click adventure that has you talking to people who will at times present you with puzzles. These puzzles range in variety from sliding block puzzles to cryptograms, mazes, logic puzzles and optical illusions. Some involve you writing in the answers while others will have you drawing them out or circling the correct answers.

Every puzzle will have a different value assigned to it in the form of Picarats. The more Picarats a puzzle is worth, the more difficult the puzzle will be. If you submit the wrong answer, the number of possible Picarats you can earn will go down. If a puzzle manages to stump you, you can unlock up to four hints by using hint coins that you find lying about London. You can also pull down a transparent memo sheet over the puzzle that will let you write notes and formulate solutions without interfering with the puzzle itself.

Moving around London is just the same as it was in past Layton games. Pressing the shoe icon brings up arrows that you can tap on to move in that direction. The upper screen shows a map of where you are with a goal of where you'll want to be heading. Tapping in various places might uncover hidden hint coins, and sometimes you'll get a special effect by tapping on something like water. If you keep tapping, you'll reveal a hidden puzzle for you to solve.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future Review

Other game features have carried over from past games such as Layton's journal, which keeps tabs on all the story events as they pass. There's also a Mysteries tracker that logs individual mysteries as you come across them. The Puzzle Index has returned, allowing you to replay puzzles you've solved at any time. The Unwound Future also sends any puzzles you've missed in a chapter to a puzzle shack, just like the other Layton games did.

As with every new Professor Layton, there are mini-games that you can play. The new mini-games in The Unwound Future are a toy car, a parrot delivery, and a picture book game. The toy car game presents you with a course of objects to collect by directing the car's direction with arrows and jump commands. The parrot delivery game has you drawing ropes to guide the parrot to its destination under a time limit. The picture book game gives you clues to fill in its story by placing corresponding stickers on its pages. You find all these components by solving puzzles for certain people you come across. Completing all the puzzles for each mini-game unlocks a set of bonus puzzles that can be played at any time.

The Unwound Future's newest feature is Puzzle Battles. During critical moments in the game, Layton will be pitted against an opponent in a battle of wits. It's nice to see a theatrical display of puzzle solving, but the game doesn't really go out of its way to make it more engaging than it actually is. There isn't much sense of control during these "battles" and even then, there are only a few Puzzle Battles throughout the game. If only it presented more options to the player, such as designing their own puzzles, then the new feature would be more significant.

There are no graphical enhancements at all in The Unwound Future. Honestly, there's no need for it as the game's nature is not demanding of the DS's hardware. The game still contains excellent hand drawn backgrounds and although it uses many of the same character images, they are just as charming. The animated cutscenes are fun to watch as always, and the ending sequences are more grandiose than the previous Layton games. Special effects both in the world of London and the puzzles themselves remain subtle and simplistic.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future Review

Again, there are no improvements when it comes to the audio. The Unwound Future sounds virtually the same as The Curious Village and The Diabolical Box. The sound effects are lifted straight out of the past games and although there is new music, most of the soundtrack sounds pretty much the same. The voice acting is excellent as usual. The London accents are performed admirably, and there's a great range of emotion expressed throughout. Maybe in the future, though, we can have a Professor Layton where every line of dialogue is voice acted.

The Unwound Future may be the greatest Professor Layton yet. It doesn't improve on any of the technical aspects, but it does possess a very complex and mature story. It also features a variety of puzzles that are overall more fun to solve than previous batches. There are also downloadable weekly puzzles so Layton fans can continue to enjoy more value for their buck. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is a fine game that every puzzle fan and DS owner should look into purchasing.

Lucas Stephens, Noobfeed

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General Information

Platform(s): 3DS
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): Level-5
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: Puzzle
Release Date: 2010-09-12

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