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Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS) artwork

Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS) review


"“Raring to try another puzzle? Ooh, nothing gets my heart racing like a passionate man!” coos the corpulent innkeeper, laying bare her ulterior motive. Usually a proper English gentleman like Professor Layton would politely talk his tophat out the door, but this smitten woman dangles the promise of a puzzle. As a world-renowned riddle-solver, the Professor just can't resist. "



“Raring to try another puzzle? Ooh, nothing gets my heart racing like a passionate man!” coos the corpulent innkeeper, laying bare her ulterior motive. Usually a proper English gentleman like Professor Layton would politely talk his tophat out the door, but this smitten woman dangles the promise of a puzzle. As a world-renowned riddle-solver, the Professor just can't resist.

Of course, her ordeal concerns food; our admirer wants to take her large, irregularly shaped sandwich on the go. Can you figure out how many slices are necessary to fit it into a rectangular container? Then again, every odd villager in little St. Mystere presents a bevy of brainteasers, so your critical thinking skills better extend beyond spatial reasoning. Some are traditional, perhaps recognizable, mathematical musings. Like the water pitcher problem; the simplest variation requires you to evenly divide eight quarts of liquid, using containers that hold eight, five, and three quarts. Another is the N-queens puzzle, where N chess queens must be placed on an NxN board in such a way that they can't attack one another.

The enigmas extend into all kinds of areas: trick questions, algebra, wordplay, geometry, optical illusions, and logical observations. Problems naturally become tougher as the game progresses, so having advanced studies in probability, graph theory, and combinatorics wouldn't hurt either. Those aren't prerequisites, though, as all the intricacies can be reasoned out with enough time and effort. And if you're ever really stumped, hints are available. Even if you skip a few, don't worry about running out of riddles. As you point-and-click Professor Layton about the rustic town, he'll find 120+ puzzles, plus new bonus ones are released for download each week. (*Limited time only, of course.)

However, Professor Layton and his pint-sized apprentice Luke did not come to crack the ordinary problems of the proletariat. The town's benefactor, Baron Augustus Reinhold, recently expired, leaving behind a mystery of an inheritance. To anyone who can find his Golden Apple will go the entirety of his sizable fortune. Except nobody has heard of this 24-karat fruit before. The Baron's snotty widow has called upon our selfless heroes to locate the item on her behalf, but it won't be a leisurely search. Shortly after the pair arrives, a murder occurs. Rumors fly about a rash of twilight abductions. And a ghastly, twisted tower looms over the disorder. Only Professor Layton can uncover the numerous secrets of St. Mystere.

That's the main issue with Professor Layton and the Curious Village, because only Professor Layton will uncover the numerous secrets of St. Mystere. While you're tackling brainteasers that feel like Luke's homework, gaining only an occasional clue in return, the child's mentor pieces together the larger problems by himself. There's actually a moment where the duo becomes trapped in the dark spire. Facing an imminent demise, the Professor quickly begins listing off some random objects in the room, and my mind immediately geared up to jury-rig some path to safety. Before I even finished a thought, however, Layton had already engineered an escape. I felt left behind like a useless accessory. The distance only grew as I approached the end of this approximately ten-hour journey, and the brainiac simply started laying out the truth behind each and every felony.

Parts of this game are designed for passive enjoyment. Cutscenes animated by respected studio Production I.G bring the Professor, Luke, and the villagers to life, complete with exaggerated British accents. The clean and simple 2-D visuals transport you to this rural hamlet that feels trapped in a simpler time. It's cozy and comfortable, and you will definitely want to aid in resolving what ultimately becomes very bittersweet story. After performing all those complex mental gymnastics, though, I would've liked the opportunity to put the final two and two together.

Rating: 7/10

woodhouse's avatar
Community review by woodhouse (March 23, 2008)

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