New Layton, new platform.
I’ve long said that the Layton series is the ideal portable game – quick to pick up and put down, easy to accomplish something in a short time, and with enough plot to keep players amused without requiring a great deal of recollection to enjoy. As a game controlled entirely by tapping the screen it has also been a prime candidate to appear on phones one day, and that day has finally come. With Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire’s Conspiracy the series expands to Android and iOS, finally allowing users without a DS/3DS to enjoy the best puzzle series around.
First off, the game itself. Anyone who has played a Layton game before will feel right at home here. The new protagonist Katrielle is a little more spirited than her father Professor Layton, but her companions and the game’s story are true to the feel of the series. The game itself is divided into different cases to be tackled, each requiring certain clues be discovered in order to solve. The case idea sounded promising but wound up being a bit of a letdown – clues are found through normal exploration and cases end in a dialog sequence where Kat solves the mystery. Cases are really just containers for different areas of the game – not a bad thing, but it feels odd in a puzzle game that there is no aspect of them that actually needs to be solved.
Would pay $15.99
Played On: ZTE Axon 7, Asus MeMO Pad 7
The main game’s puzzles are disappointing as well. There is a distinct lack of variety, with a majority of the fill in the answer style like this:
Q: There are 5 statues on a table. How many statues do you need to push to knock them all over?
A: 0 (you push the table)
That’s not an inherently bad format, but when 80% of the puzzles are that sort of trickery, it’s not the answer you think style it gets old. Previous games in the series had a much better puzzle mix, and the lack of variance here made my interest start to wane after a while.
Fortunately, the game follows the recent trend of offering a year’s worth of daily puzzles, and these are all in the more active style of manipulating objects to satisfy a set of conditions. It’s just unfortunate there isn’t a better balance in the game overall. In addition, over the first few hours of play I unlocked three different mini games within the main game, so there is plenty of content here.
The series’ transition to Android is mostly smooth. As expected the gameplay doesn’t suffer at all, with the minor issue that in few puzzles or instances where I wanted to make notes, my finger isn’t near as accurate as the 3DS stylus. There are some caveats moving into a non-standard platform though – occasionally I would minimize the game and come back to find that it had at some point closed. There is a built in suspend feature that attempts to capture progress, but at least once I wound up rapidly tapping my way through a long dialog sequence I had already been through because my progress was lost. It’s easy enough to save (except during those dialog stretches), but not being able to reliably suspend is an unfortunate though not entirely unexpected consequence of moving to a wide open platform like Android.
Creating a Level5 ID allows players to upload their save to the cloud and then download on any other device, which is a huge bonus for the platform. After transferring my save the game played just fine on my 4 year old tablet, although it did crash occasionally (another good reason to save). I did encounter a major issue though when one of the crashes removed my Level 5 information, and the app then crashed every time I tried to re-enter it, meaning I couldn’t get my save back off that device. After at least a dozen tries it went through, but for I would recommend saving both locally and to the cloud regularly as a precaution. In fairness this device is running a version of Android at least two generations old, and I had no crashing issues playing on my six month old phone.
While I had some issues with both the puzzle selection and the game’s execution on Android, it’s still a great value for the $16 asking price, especially considering that according to Level5 this game is identical to the 3DS version coming later this year, at likely more than twice the price. That makes it a compelling choice for those who own a 3DS, and a no-brainer for any puzzle lover who doesn’t own Nintendo’s handheld.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.