Professor Layton and the Curious Village  - Review

Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Ages: Everyone

The game has been out for awhile - but it is so unusual that I want to call attention to it. It is a puzzle with a mystery, but it is the intensity of the puzzles and the clever interweaving of the mystery that keeps attention focused. The art work on the box implies that it is for kids. It is not - at least not until they have experienced the pleasure of algebra.

The game starts out showing Baron Reinhold in an open coffin - a hint to be prepared for the unusual. Professor Layton, an archeologist, is called upon to find his will, which will disburse his holdings in the town of St. Mystere. The only clue to the Baron's treasure is the Golden Apple, hidden somewhere within the village.

The Professor takes up the challenge, and with his young assistant Luke, they are on their way to St. Mystere and the Reinhold Manor. Everyone in the town, including those in the Manor, seem afflicted with the need to solve puzzles and they turn to the Professor for help. Often they will trade information for assistance in solving a puzzle. Sometimes the reward, aside from getting Picaret points, is a gizmo or a piece of a painting that helps in solving the mystery.

The beginning is pretty much continuous puzzle solving. At times, even the Professor seems annoyed at being distracted from solving the mystery. About midway through, the game changes tempo and focuses more on the mystery. Unsettling things are happening - people are kidnapped, the ominous tower, that at first was only a shadow become clearer and more threatening, no one knows where the Baron's daughter disappeared to, nor how to explain the identical appearance of the Baron's two wives.

There are 120 puzzles - only 85 are required to complete the game. Many are mathematical, of the type x =, y =. Others are reminiscent of brainteasers involving paper and pencil games, matchstick puzzles, and optical and spatial conundrums. My only suggestion to solving many of them is to read the question carefully.

The puzzles are un-timed and the player is encouraged to solve them by allowing multiple chances. If the puzzle still eludes the player, there are hints which are paid for by hint coins that have been collected. Interesting, that with the maximum of three hints - the full solution is still not given. There is a slight amount of disapprobation when the player gives an incorrect answer, "I'm ashamed I've let you down Professor", or there is a sarcastic remark from a townsperson on the Professor's ability. But they really want the player to solve the puzzle. It's not unlike an adult version of the Zoombinis.

It will seduce player who wouldn't dream of picking up Brain Age. If it's not the puzzles, itís the compelling mystery that will have players going for "just one more", and one more, and Ö. For players who still haven't hand enough, there are weekly puzzles via Nintendo WFC.

Fun Factor: A compelling game - charming too.
Female Factor: A Lady Violet and Lady Dahlia conundrum.
Player Friendly: Easy saves, good manual. Visual puzzle index shows puzzles solved and unsolved - a total list of puzzles would have been helpful.

Reviewed by: Editor - 05/09

  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village
  • © Nintendo Level 5
  • Platform(s): GBDSDS
  • To Order: DS $24.99