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Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • Tons of new puzzles to solve
  • A finale fans will appreciate
  • Uses 3DS tech in smart (if brief) ways
  • A few clunky puzzles
  • Doesn't take any risks

In the world of Professor Layton, every person you meet is obsessed with puzzles. They can’t can’t seem to get enough of them. But after solving hundreds of memorable riddles over the course of six titles in six years, I can't help but think that Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy almost skirts the line of being too much of a good thing. Fortunately for the professor--and players that have grown too accustomed to his gentlemanly ways--Azran Legacy gives Hershel Layton a proper farewell. It ends the series (for now) on a good note, partially thanks to some small gameplay tweaks that go a long way in freshening up the standard puzzle-heavy adventure.

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy brings to a close the prequel trilogy by connecting the bigger conspiracy alluded to in Last Specter and Miracle Mask. Layton, Luke, and Emmy explore intriguing small towns and assist ridiculous-looking townsfolk in the hopes of unraveling the origins of a an ancient prophecy all while being chased by a gang of criminals. The smart writing, eccentric music, and lived-in world design are as strong as always, playing off relationships between characters that are likable to veterans as well as players fresh to the Layton series. The few telegraphed twists are worth it to see the expansive cast together for one last adventure.

The conversations and lovely animation are friendly and familiar, and the same goes for the core, puzzle-solving gameplay. Azran Legacy has a good mix of enigmas that demand logic and critical thinking of differing degrees, and the Hint Coin system--coins that can purchase puzzle tips--is as helpful as ever when you hit a random puzzle that pushes your intelligence past the breaking point. Developer Level-5 takes great care in balancing the puzzles, and you feel like that “Eureka!” moment is just beyond your grasp almost all the time.

However, for a franchise that asks players to think outside of the box, Azran Legacy has riddles that stick very close to the established formula of the five previous games. At worst, a few of Azran’s puzzles are as fun as homework, including a couple trick questions that border on cheating, while others have solutions you’ll come across more likely by accident than via deduction. With more than 100 puzzles on offer there’s bound to be a some losers, but most are entertaining enough that I found myself searching for bonus puzzles in each new area I entered.

Familiar structure aside, some smaller tweaks do a great job of opening up the game at certain points. Eventually the linear exploration branches out with more open cities and objectives, letting players occasionally plot their own course, something that had been missing in Layton for awhile. The game also takes advantage of the stereoscopic 3D to amp up the excitement for brief action sequences that are fun while they last. These additions prove the franchise still has new places to go, but it also shows that Azran could be better if it truly embraced change.

On the lesser end of new content are handful of minigames and bonus modes that are cute but insubstantial. They all take a ton of explanation (even for a series as instruction-heavy as Layton), and most aren’t worth the effort to learn. The squirrely Nutty Roller is the best of the bunch, while challenges like Dress Up and Bloom Burst have random objectives that don’t seem all that logical, and none will pull in anyone but the most dedicated of completionists. Ultimately, it’s inoffensive extra content, but Azran Legacy is dense enough that it doesn’t need shallow minigames to pad the proceedings.

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is more invested in closing the series appropriately than making any major changes, but the formula it adheres to still works. The game stands on its own with an intriguing plot, fun puzzles, and now’s the right time to say goodbye before it turns sour with repetition. Should Layton ever return, he’d need a major overhaul, but at the moment, a victory lap is certainly well deserved for a series as consistently good as this one.

More Info

Release date: Feb 28 2014 - 3DS (US)
Feb 28 2014 - 3DS (UK)
Available Platforms: 3DS
Genre: Puzzle
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Level-5
Franchise: Professor Layton
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Mild Violence, Use of Alcohol

Azran Legacy doesn’t change much about the Layton formula, but the series stays true to its strengths to the very end.

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17 comments

  • winner2 - February 25, 2014 6:14 p.m.

    I enjoyed Miracle Mask, if this is more of the same then I'm ok with that. I just don't feel like it's a full price game for me, but I know it's not going to drop much for a good while...
  • taokaka - February 25, 2014 2:40 p.m.

    I had a great time with this game when it came out last year in Australia but I felt that the middle portion of the game where the gang go travelling to 5 random locations was rather dull. The potential for memorable, unique mini stories was there however the game failed to make anything of it. Also, is that last picture from Professor Layton and the miracle mask?
  • db1331 - February 25, 2014 11:40 a.m.

    I borrowed The Curious Village from my sister one time. I'd gone out for beer and wings that night, and was somewhat buzzed when I got home. I was sober enough to grab the DS and start the game, but just drunk enough to be dumb as shit. God damn it was infuriating. I remember there was one question like how many times a day will all the numbers on a digital clock be the same? I couldn't get it right to save my damn life. I think I eventually just kept guessing numbers and adding +1 until I got it right. I R SMRT.
  • Jackonomics2.0 - February 25, 2014 12:56 p.m.

    Laytons puzzles are usually bullshit, as the answers are too off and away from the question and gives new bullshit meanings to "Think outside the box" Here's a tip, if you think you need to do math, your already doing it wrong.
  • shawksta - February 25, 2014 10:39 a.m.

    From a scale of great to Layton Bullshit hows the plot twist? Diabolical Box's explanation tore a hole in my brain.
  • universaltofu - February 25, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    Might get this, not sure if I'm in a puzzle mood.
  • rainn'sgaydar - February 25, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    This looks interesting. Unfortunately, I hit my saturation point with Layton about halfway through Miracle Mask. I'm not sure I can go back for a final dip in that well.
  • shawksta - February 25, 2014 10:40 a.m.

    Thats like saying you got halfway through Diabolical Box and missing out on Unwound future. You should atleast stay for the story, the puzzles are too bullshit at times but its worth it, but hey i dont know the story Miracle Mask nor this one so i cant say.
  • rainn'sgaydar - February 25, 2014 12:45 p.m.

    Not really. I just got my fill of that style and pace. Regardless of story, I've just acquired enough of that Layton taste that I don't want anymore. They're still great; I've just personally reached a point that I've had all I need. It has nothing to do with quality. It's just me having experienced enough to feel satisfied. Full disclosure: I skipped Diabolical Box and went straight for Unwound Future.
  • shawksta - February 25, 2014 1:20 p.m.

    Fair enough, not going to force you. You should atleast (If you haven't decided that is) to visit Layton one more time when the cross-over with Phoenix Wright gets localized. Diabolical Box had one of the weirdest plot twists I have ever seen, I cant even, that's how weird it is.
  • rainn'sgaydar - February 25, 2014 1:30 p.m.

    I haven't gotten into Phoenix Wright would be my hesitation there. I've been considering it though. We'll see what the reviews say, I expect. Just googled spoilers for DB. Wow. Weird.
  • shawksta - February 25, 2014 1:46 p.m.

    Well it could be a good introduction to the Phoenix Wright series, already aware and fitted for Layton, the cross over could be a good introduction to how the series is, and vice versa for Phoenix Wright fans who haven't played Layton yet. To really understand why DB's plot twist is weird is to give you a full explanation or to have played the game, cause seeing it or reading it just doesn't do it justice.
  • shawksta - February 25, 2014 1:51 p.m.

    Pretty much read this to truly understand this mindf*ck, its long, but worth it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professor_Layton_and_the_Diabolical_Box
  • taokaka - February 25, 2014 2:32 p.m.

    So do you dislike diabolical box or just think its twist is weird? Personally it was my second favourite game in the series. I honestly thought the plot twist to the first game was the most ludicrous in the series.
  • shawksta - February 25, 2014 6:58 p.m.

    Of course not, frankly i thought DB was amazing, but its plot twist was just flat out bizarre especially for one major factor that really bothers me. The first game's twist is something that could actually work, its not something we havent seen before, but it was still unexpected. But DB, my main gripe with its plot twist is how everybody that came out of the train, somehow has the same you-know-what.
  • taokaka - February 26, 2014 2:06 a.m.

    OHHHHH!!!! To be honest I don't think I actually noticed that and I'm normally the type to just be furious about inconsistencies. Now that you've pointed that out I suppose it does overtake the mysterious village for most ludicrous plot twist..
  • shawksta - February 26, 2014 10:32 a.m.

    You could argue that the Curious Village had a similar problem with its twist except its possible given what they are, otherwise the city itself in DB was just crazy. Frankly being ludicrous makes it more fun and surprising :P

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