Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
The latest instalment on the Nintendo 3DS, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, is the final game in top-hatted archaeologist Professor Hershel Layton’s second trilogy. Unlike Star Wars, Level 5’s prequel trilogy for the puzzling Professor Layton series surpasses the original trilogy in its production, charm and memorability.
The game is set directly after the events of Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask. The Azran legacies, relics of an ancient and technologically-advanced civilisation, are now controlled by the Targent organisation, led by Leon Bronev. These relics include the City of Ambrosia, a legendary location revealed in the film Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva. Jean Descole, Targent’s rival and Layton’s adversary, also seeks to harness the power of the Azran civilisation. Professor Layton is accompanied by his assistant Emmy and his apprentice Luke Triton, and travels to meet the enigmatic and eminent Professor Sycamore – who tells them of a living “mummy”. The group travels aboard the airship Bostonius to see the girl frozen in ice, Aurora. When Targent seek to capture Aurora for their nefarious purposes, these events launch an adventure around the globe for control of the Azran legacy.
The gameplay is similar to previous titles in Akihiro Hino’s Professor Layton series, with brainteasers – ranging from logical deductions to sliding puzzles to mathematical problems – scattered across the world, and the story split into chapters. Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy features an astonishing amount of puzzles – more than 500 – meaning players will return again and again, even after the end of the game’s storyline. The game is a point-and-click adventure, where the player utilises the stylus to navigate, highlight and zoom in on interesting points on the console’s touchscreen. The player can collect hint coins, which are spent to help with puzzles, earning picarats – the scoring system in Professor Layton games. Hershel Layton muses that “puzzle solving is a most gentlemanly pursuit”. The game does not break away from this docile focus, supplanting battles with Targent operatives for puzzles to solve, allowing progression upon completion.
The characters have never been rendered better, with a number of beautifully animated scenes in 3D. Tomohito Nishiura’s score backs this global expedition, providing great music as players think over puzzles, discover secrets and enjoy the game’s many plot twists.
To complete the circle, the game ends with Professor Layton and Luke driving together in the country, as the Curious Village pulls into view.