Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is the latest and final chapter in the Professor Layton series developed by Level-5 games. Yes, it’s true that this is the last Layton game to grace the shelves of our local game stores and it will certainly leave behind its own legacy as being one of the more interesting and challenging puzzle games to date.
The Azran Legacy starts with Layton and his apprentices, Luke and Emmy boarding the airship Bostonius departing to meet up with Layton’s friend and colleague Professor Sycamore (No relation to Pokemon’s Prof. Sycamore) at Sycamore’s request. Sycamore claims to have made an miraculous discovery deep in the icy mountain town of Froenberg. All is not what it seems when Layton and his team arrive at the town and stumble upon a sinister plot by a secret crime organization to use Sycamore’s discovery for evil. It is up to Professor Layton and company to thwart the evil entities plans and save the world from certain doom.
Just in case that you’ve been living underneath a rock for the past 4 games, Professor Layton is one-of-a-kind puzzle game. The game mechanics are short, sweet, and simple. The player takes the roll of Layton and his assistants to solve various traditional puzzles (Such as matchstick puzzles) to advance farther into the game’s story. Each puzzle rewards the player a set amount of points, or Picarats, per puzzle which will unlock more secret puzzles once the player has completed the game. Make sure you are sure of your answer before attempting to submit it otherwise your total Picarat count for that puzzle will be lowered. This will happen each time you answer a puzzle incorrectly. Stuck on a puzzle you just can’t figure out? No worries, there are hidden hint coins scattered throughout the game that can be used on any puzzle you may be stuck on.
This has pretty much been the Professor Layton formula since the beginning. And not too much has changed in this latest installment. However, don’t mistake this point as a negative. The workings might not vary much from game to game but when it comes down to it, that’s probably for the best. Level 5 has really found themselves a winning combination for fans of puzzle games.
The Azran Legacy takes little time to get to the good stuff. The first puzzle presents itself almost immediately and is as challenging as it is intriguing. Level 5 does a much better job this time around when it comes to tying in puzzles to the story whereas previous installments, such as The Curious Village, seemed to just giving you puzzles without any real reason. Puzzles in Azran Legacy are themed to what it happening in the story so every puzzle in the main story is unique and fun.
One of the issues with Azran Legacy is the interface within the puzzles. The bottom screen displays the puzzle itself while the top screen displays a picture that interacts with what you do on the bottom screen. Now, this is certainly cool BUT in previous Layton games the top screen would show text, describing the puzzle objectives and rules. In order to go back and read the objectives you have to click a button on the bottom screen. It’s a minor annoyance but it makes a noticeable difference not having the objectives on the top screen automatically.
Another annoyance, at least for me, was Luke’s ability to talk to animals. Yup, Luke Thornberry talks to animals. I know and understand that it’s just part of the game, it’s used to help aid Layton and crew to their next destination but it just seems like an unnecessary way to carry the story forward. In a game that’s based off of logic, puzzles, and critical thinking, Luke’s ability to talk to woodland creatures seems really out of place.
Azran Legacy is a fairly lengthy puzzle game, as its predecessors are as well, unless you’re a genius. But let’s assume for a second that you didn’t get a perfect score on your SATs. Depending on how well you do with puzzles, playing through this game can take anywhere from 13-20 hours. Not too shabby for a puzzle game. Puzzle difficulty ranges from “how did this even make it in the game?” to “Screw this! I’ve been stuck on this thing FOREVER.” and if you’re persistent, you may just come out of it with a strong sense of accomplishment. Probably.
The action sequences from the previous Layton game, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, have returned in this installment and serves to provide a more complete gaming experience. While watching these action sequences, players are forced to pay attention as they’re interactive. In simple terms, they’re puzzles or challenges within a cutscene. It’s more or less a minigame of sorts which aim to keep the player immersed in what’s happening in the story.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is wonderfully complete, quaint, and challenging puzzle game from the word go and does it’s very best to keep the player interested from start to finish. Though the game doesn’t try anything particularly daring when it comes to story, it stays true to the Professor Layton games we know and love. It’s truly sad to see the Layton series put out to pasture but it’s certainly been a wild ride to say the least. Regardless, Professor Layton will live on in the legacy Level 5 has created for him as one of the best puzzle games (arguably) to date. Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is available now on the Nintendo 3ds for a mere $40. You should probably check it out!