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Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (Nintendo DS) Review
Review by 
9/10 from 21 user ratings
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future being the third game in the Professor Layton series, chances are you already know what to expect from it, but just in case someone reading this somehow doesnít know what these games are about: you play as Professor Layton and his self-appointed assistant Luke in what looks like an old-school point-and-click adventure game. You explore different environments and tap the screen to engage in dialogue with characters or find puzzles. But instead of the usual ďuse breath mint on grogĒ puzzles in those games, you solve the type of riddles that you could find in a book of brain-teasers. The resulting combination of mystery, humor and brain-teasers is a surprisingly effective one.

So Unwound Future doesnít tread new ground or deviate from this formula in the least. Thatís not necessarily a bad since, since more of the same is exactly what people expect, right? They want to see these characters again, in a new scenario and more riddles to solve.

As far as the scenario goes, I was very satisfied: one week after attending a scientific demonstration gone awry during which the time machine a scientist claimed to invent explodes (with Englandís Prime Minister inside), the professor receives a letter from someone who claims to be Luke from 10 years into the future. He wants to enlist Laytonís aid to derail the machinations of someone only Layton could possibly stop. I wonít reveal more, but needless to say, itís the kind of completely preposterous scenario that weíve come to love in the Professor Layton games. And no matter how absurd the reveal at the end is, itís also quite a bit touching.

Above all, I really enjoyed the dialogue. Luke and Layton seem to interact more than they ever did before, and the writers seemed to have lots of fun actually drawing attention to the quirks and absurdity of these characters and their relationship. Again, I donít want to spoil anything, but considering the fact that Luke isnít actually the Professorís assistant, just some kid who idolizes him and tags along, the writers have got a lot to work with.

I wish I could say I found the puzzles as satisfying as the story, but sadly, I think they are some of the weakest in any of the three games, or at least the easiest. I swear, some of them required no thought whatsoever. In one instance, the solution was so plain obvious, I was sure there had to be a devious catch somewhere, otherwise it could barely be acknowledged as a puzzle. I cashed in a hint, which was: ďYouíre not overthinking this, are you?Ē. I guess I was.

The situation probably isnít as dire as I make it sound because once all was said and done, I still had cashed in over 30 hint coins, and still had failed to give the correct answer on my first try for many of them. But there were a significant number of puzzles that simply werenít puzzling, and gave me no satisfaction for ďsolvingĒ them.

Thankfully, as I am deep into the post-game puzzles now, I can confirm that Laytonís Challenges are no pushovers. But thatís just 15 puzzles. I hope the 25 downloadable puzzles we got coming are at the same level of difficulty.

In the end, I had a great enough time enjoying the banter and the story in the game to give it a high recommendation, but the number of non-puzzles almost made me pine for the brutal tile-sliding challenges of the previous game, which I loathed. Perhaps the creator listened to the fans who said those puzzles were simply too hard (tile-sliding puzzles are almost completely absent in Unwound Future). I guess itís true: you have to be careful what you wish for.

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Posted: 09/24/10, 19:40:21  - Edited by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:34:13    
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Damn, how do you play through these games so quickly? It takes me FOREVER just to beat ONE. Ugh, I suck.

I'll read the review later, after I either play a significant portion of the game, or beat it myself. (ha ha, like that'll happen Grant!)

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 19:43:08
I was careful not to spoil anything, only saying how I felt about the story.

And you think this was fast? Back when the original came out, a coworker lent it to me. It was a Friday. I gave it back to him on Monday, finished save for the Layton's Challenge puzzles.

The second game, though, took me considerably longer. I didn't care for the story, and the tile puzzles really didn't appeal to me.

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 19:47:53
Wow, dude. That was quick. Too bad about the puzzles.

If you really want tile puzzles, Art Style: Zengage is supposed to be a real kick in the balls.

But I guess you don't...

I thought the downloadable puzzles in the first game were pretty tricky.

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 19:50:55
Pandareus is actually Layton's long-lost french canadian twin. Tell me yes/no is there a cool "outside-the-box" puzzle like the train ticket one in Diabolical Box?

Btw, this just gave me the idea to dress up as the prof. for Halloween.

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 19:51:05
Is it necessary to play Diabolical Box before this one? Would it even be worth it? It sounds like you favoured the previous 2 games.

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:22:07
I think I liked the first one the best overall, and this one would come in second. I actually think Diabolical Box could be skipped and not be missed.

I don't know if it's advisable to jump in Unwound Future first. The easier puzzles would be less imtimidating, I guess, but the dialogue between the characters would probably be less funny to you. I think already knowing the characters is essential for the humor to really work.

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:27:09
I've already played the first one though...

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:29:14
Diabolical Box was kind of more of the same as the first, with a bit more puzzles being worked into the actual story as opposed to being totally random.

Oh, and it had an AWESOME ending. I'd honestly suggest not skipping it just because the ending was so powerful.

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:33:21

Alright, I edited my end paragraph fom "made me pine" to "almost made me pine". I really didn't enjoy those tile puzzles, and unlike Zero (and he's not alone), I didn't care for DB's story.

Plus, all of the important characters in Unwound Future are from the first game, none from the second.


UW works the puzzles into the story better than ever.

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:36:53  - Edited by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:37:50
I'm not sure if I cared about the story much until the ending. But then it brought me to tears. Literally, which rarely happens from a video game.

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:39:57
I'm glad I'm not the only one who was kind of underwhelmed by Diabolical Box. It was good, but not as good as the first IMO. This one is better than DB. I would still suggest playing it, but I think if you play Unwound Future first you won't be missing much. I don't think there's anything that spoils anything from Diabolical Box.

I really enjoyed Unwound Future. The puzzles were a bit on the easy side, but the story was great, and I loved getting some insight into Layton's character.

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:45:10
Pandareus, can you answer this:

Tell me yes/no is there a cool "outside-the-box" puzzle like the train ticket one in Diabolical Box?


Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:48:52

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 20:49:38
I plan on getting this before Xmas....

I'm still on DB right now... with the damn 80 Picarat sliding block puzzle... Usually I rule at these but this one is horrible..

Good review!

Posted by 
 on: 09/24/10, 21:05:51
I finished the main story as part of Backlaugust 2012, and I have to say I was not disappointed. Just like the first two games, the story, characters, and presentation were all top-notch. The events that take place are insane but awesome. I liked that we got to see more background elements for Prof. Layton himself and see how it all ties back to the story in this game. The ending was quite sad!

Guillaume said:
I wish I could say I found the puzzles as satisfying as the story, but sadly, I think they are some of the weakest in any of the three games, or at least the easiest.

I suppose some of the puzzles were pretty easy, but overall I felt the game had a great balance of easy and hard puzzles. There are still quite a number of puzzles that really baffle me even after I get the solution in a haphazard way, where it seems like the way the question is worded is quite confusing.

Let's just say I was glad to stockpile a bunch of hint coins; I was not shy about cashing them in if I got just a bit too stumped!

This wasn't mentioned in the review, but on top of the standard puzzles I also liked the three other kinds of 'puzzles' that make this game, overall, an even better value (even if there aren't a lot of them). The Toy Car, the Picture Book, and the Parrot Delivery games will challenge you in very different ways!

I found The Toy Car challenges pretty rewarding, challenging, and fair.

The Picture Book puzzles were enjoyable as you had to place the correct stickers in the book so that the story made sense based on the context. Not too frustrating.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game for me, overall, were the parrot deliveries. It really felt like I just had to guess all the different possible rope configurations, even after careful consideration of the bird physics as he hopped an bounced along. It would have helped knowing I had to use every rope provided in the puzzle. I dunno, maybe it's just a personal lack of a certain kind of problem solving! In any case, it's not a huge deal since these are all optional anyway.

OK, time to check out more puzzles! I missed some and I also haven't tried the bonus ones. I doubt I'll complete everything this game has to offer.

Posted by 
 on: 08/13/12, 20:19:07
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