Layton's Mystery Journey Review: A Charming, but Unchallenging Puzzle Game

Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is a charming continuation of the Professor Layton series of games that's perfect for newcomers looking to burn a few hours of time on mostly low-stakes adventures. Since 2008, Level-5 games has periodically released new Professor Layton games, in which the famous top hat-wearing professor solves puzzles while working his way through a single overarching mystery. After a nearly four-year hiatus, Level-5 released the seventh game of the series — Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy — for the Nintendo 3DS and mobile devices back in 2017. A "Deluxe" version of the game featuring DLC content and new puzzles was released for the Nintendo Switch late last year, marking the first time that the Layton series has gotten a household console release.

Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is a departure from traditional Professor Layton games in several respects. For one, the game stars Layton's daughter Katrielle as she opens her own detective agency after the disappearance of her father. Joined by her assistant Ernest and the talking dog Sherl, Layton's Mystery Journey features the trio solving a number of mysteries that are mostly connected to the Seven Dragons, the major power brokers of London. Whereas previous Professor Layton games focused on one central mystery, Layton's Mystery Journey is broken into a dozen different mysteries, most of which take an hour or less to complete.

While the protagonist and format are a bit different, the core gameplay of Layton's Mystery Journey — point and click discoveries and gentle puzzles — remains the same. Each chapter provides a somewhat lengthy set-up of interacting with characters and learning about the basic mystery to be solved, followed by Katrielle and her companions searching for clues, many of which require the player to solve a handful of brain teasers to obtain. The brain teasers are a mix of visual puzzles and riddles, but aren't particularly challenging. Of the dozens of puzzles I solved over the course of the game, I only got one answer wrong on the outset, and only a handful required anything more than simple deductive reasoning to figure out. Mind you, this is a puzzle series that's meant for kids, and I think they'll provide a nice bit of distraction for kids stuck inside due to social distancing.

The game also offers new daily puzzles for players, along with plenty of side options for players. Not only can you revisit old cases, you can also redecorate Layton's office, change Katrielle's office, or wrap up hanging plot threads from past series. There's a surprising amount of content in this game, so you won't feel like you have to put the game down once you wrap up the main plotline.

The aesthetics of the game are utterly charming, with top-notch voice acting and absolutely amazing animated sequences. Players will likely want a full animated adaptation after playing through Layton's Mystery Journey, which is convenient since a full 50-episode series already aired in Japan and is rumored for a Western release on Netflix. Although the game doesn't take full advantage of the Switch's abilities, Layton's Mystery Journey at least doesn't feel like a straight port as many other games that made the jump from Steam or mobile devices to the Switch do.

My only real gripes with the game come from the occasionally too long dialogue sequences (it seems that every character has to quip or comment about Katrielle's current course of action) and the frustrating lack of resolution at the end of the game. Although the game obviously sets up a sequel, neither of the two core mysteries introduced at the outset of the game are solved at all.

If you're looking for some charming brain teasers and puzzles to distract you from the current goings-on, give Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy a try.

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Rating: 4 out of 5

Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is available now for the Nintendo Switch. A code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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