For more than a decade, Level-5 and its Layton series have beguiled gamers with their fiendish riddles and puzzles. Even since launching on the original DS, Layton is a name that has become synonymous with Nintendo handhelds and with good reason. The calm pacing and need to jot down clues and notes made it a perfect fit for the power-selling platform, enjoyed by casual and veteran gamers alike.
With the 3DS well into its twilight years amidst the rampaging success of mobile games, it was only matter of time before we saw another one of Level-5’s flagships make the leap.
This newest game in the series, Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle & the Millonaires’ Conspiracy, is just as witty and whimsical as the rest of the series, albeit centred around a new cast of characters. Katrielle takes the helm – or top hat – in her father’s stead, roaming a nostalgic portrait of London with equal parts curiosity and enthusiasm.
When approached by a talking dog, the budding detective finds herself following a strange series of happenings around London. As the story slowly unspools, you’ll uncover smaller mysteries that crop up when talking to bypassers or interacting with objectives. Being a Layton game, these naturally lead to puzzles – some of which take a good several minutes to work out.
That’s if you do manage to work them out, of course. For all itself whimsy and charm, Katrielle & the Millionaires’ Conspiracy proffers plenty of challenging brain teasers for players to tangle with. Each one is its own mini scenario with players needing to rely on logic, observation, and deduction among other skills. While some puzzles following a basic question and answer format, others are a tad more interactive and visual, the “memo” overlay allowed you to take notes and draw helpful pictures.
Still, no matter how smart you think you are, there are bound to be moments where you come undone, stuck gawping at the screen, unable to get your head around a particular problem. I’m not afraid to admit I was in that spot quite a few times, reading the clues over and over until something clicked.
That said, there were puzzles I could make neither head nor tail of, even after expending all the available hints. Their wording can be occasionally vague, not giving enough information to get the gears in your head turning. It can be frustrating, wasting four or five hint coins on a puzzle to find yourself no closer to the answer.
Needless to say, if brainteasers simply aren’t your thing then there’s little here that will change your mind other than the way they are presented. As ever, the art style is impeccable and evocative, given that little extra oomph thanks to the 3D character models. The music and voicework are just as key to the overall experience.
For Layton die-hards, this latest entry serves up somewhat of a dilemma, albeit a fairly benign one. With a 3DS version of the game due in October, fans will no doubt find themselves torn between an earlier, cheaper – £14.99 via the App Store – version of the Millionaires’ Conspiracy or one that feels more natural on the Nintendo 3DS. Either way, it’s another great Layton adventure you won’t want to miss out on with enough puzzles to keep you going for a long time.