I’ve been on a puzzle kick for awhile now. From the light puzzling of the Ace Attorney series to quick thinking type such as Critter Crunch. And then there’s Professor Layton 2 — formerly known as Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. The Professor Layton sequel certainly requires more brain power than the other two, but not quite as demanding as the original. Level 5 did what any other developer would do with a sequel; they addressed the criticisms in attempt to better the game. Taking a step back, it looks like they’ve succeeded. The puzzles were better integrated into the story and the difficulty ramp was kinder. So why didn’t I come away completely satisfied? Simply put: it lacked puzzle surprises.
The Curious Village was more of a interactive puzzle than story which freed it from contextual puzzles. Sure it didn’t make much sense to solve a completely unrelated puzzle while in the middle of an investigation — I admit that. But I would gladly trade context for unrestrained creativity. The puzzles found in The Diabolical Box lacked those moments of intrigue and realization.
The Diabolical Box made up the puzzling shortcomings in many other ways. There were more meta games including camera rebuilding, hamster training and tea creation — all of these sound incredibly lame, but they served as excellent distractions. Level 5 also continued the high level production values with more of those lovely animated cutscenes and quality voice work. I would also like to praise the decision of bringing back the puzzle music; it’s important to have something not annoy you when you’re trying to figure out some obtuse puzzle.
As with the first game, the grand mystery wasn’t deciphered by my hand. It unraveled as I progressed through the game and felt spoon fed. I believe the only moment of actual mystery solving was the very last puzzle. Whether or not you enjoy Professor Layton’s light hearted tales of mystery is up to you. I thought it was fine. I still don’t know why Professor Layton has a young boy following him around all day. He’s rather young to be an apprentice. I guess we’ll find out next time.
Yes. Next time because the Professor Layton series is a success, you know. It takes a bit of time and effort to fine tune the formula – it happened with Phoenix Wright as well, remember? Well in any case, I still feel good about recommending The Diabolical Box. If you love puzzles, this game still offers a great deal of good ones to ponder over. New comers will appreciate the changes made, but fans, like me, may feel that Level 5 could have done more with the puzzles in this one.
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For more information on Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, visit the official website.