|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Level-5||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 12, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
While adventure games have seen a resurgence on PCs and consoles alike as of late, its nice to see the Professor Layton series continuing to go strong on the DS. The series is known for essentially blending adventure games full of charm with a plethora of brain-bending puzzles. Fortunately, the series third iteration, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, continues this practice, delivering both a challenging and enjoyable adventure for players of all ages.
This time around, Layton and his young apprentice Luke are present at the demonstration of what is billed as a fully functioning time travel machine. Of course, something goes horribly wrong and both the Prime Minister and the head scientist in charge of the demonstration vanish during the explosion. This is followed by Layton receiving a call for help from an unlikely source, a letter allegedly sent from his apprentice Luke ten years in the future. Following the instructions on the letter, Layton and Luke find themselves in the future, trying to unravel the mysteries of both the past and future. It is an entertaining hook and story to be sure, and thankfully, newcomers will still be able to follow the plot, as Unwound Future doesnt require knowledge of past games in order to understand.
Whether in their current London or in the dingy futuristic version, the world comes alive with detail. As an adventure game at its core, you wont be running around the environments in real time. Instead, the game is presented to you as a series of still images that can be interacted with or moved between. Still, these scenes, which have a lovely painted appearance about them, do a good job of creating a world in which to solve mysteries and puzzles. Players will also be treated to an impressive amount of cinematics and voice work, given the small memory capacity of the DS carts.
Stepping into a scene, youll be able to use the touch screen in order to interact with virtually everything you can see. Tapping on some objects will only result in a line of text from either Layton or Luke describing it or commenting about it to one another, however, there are plenty of doors, passageways, hint coins, hidden puzzles, and people to interact with. While the doors, passageways, and people are usually easy to find, hint coins and hidden puzzles can be more elusive. Finding these two items usually requires a keen eye, finding odd looking or out of place objects within a scene and tapping them. Since both of these items can be quite useful, it makes all the scene scouring more than worthwhile.
As I already mentioned, Unwound Future is a game that relies heavily on its over 150 brain teasing puzzles for gameplay. It can actually verge on comical how the game continues to set up scenarios in which it deems it appropriate to throw another puzzle at the player. As examples, here are just some of the ways youll find yourself tasked with solving a puzzle: youll find doors with no locks, people who want to test your identity, have to trade puzzle solvings for information, and even discover people who just randomly throw a puzzle your way to get your help with solving it. While this can seem a little questionable at times, it is quite hilarious to be playing in a world where puzzle solving is the key to everything, from gathering information to proving your identity.
Still, unlike the way puzzles are presented to you, the puzzles youll encounter in Unwound Future are all well done. Youll find everything from number to logic puzzles throughout, and since there are a wide variety of them, it helps to keep you interested in finding and completing all of them. The game will start you off rather slowly, with more basic puzzles, and throughout the course of your adventure, gradually increase the challenge. The rate at which the puzzles pick up in intensity feels just right, with a gradual difficulty curve rather than sharp spikes that can be difficult to overcome.