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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