Professor Layton and the Unwound Future review

  • Tons of awesome puzzles
  • Best story yet, plus more humor than first two
  • More areas to explore; world feels bigger
  • Poor Flora gets snubbed
  • Mediocre Picture Book minigame
  • Waiting for the Professor Layton 4

We'll just come out and say it: Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is the best game in the series to date. That's not to say it's leaps and bounds better than its predecessors, because in all regards it's remarkably similar. The improvements here are subtle, and rightly so, as we wouldn't want it to deviate from the tried-and-true Professor Layton formula. Most importantly, the puzzles are as clever and engaging as ever, and it presents easily the best story of the trilogy. 

Like the first two entries in the series, the gameplay focuses on a string of standalone brainteaser-style puzzles that you encounter as you move from place to place, talk to people, and tap around with stylus to explore the environment. Puzzles range from logic puzzles, spatial puzzles, word puzzles, number puzzles, sliding block puzzles and tons and tons more. If you typically like the kind of brainteasers that require careful thinking without relying on specialized knowledge like higher math or trivia, you'll love the variety of puzzles in every Layton game, including this one.

The story begins with Layton and his protégé Luke attending a time machine demonstration in London that goes horribly awry, and a titillating mystery ensues in the form of a letter to the professor allegedly written by Luke – from 10 years in the future. Most shocking of all is that apparently in future Luke's world, our gentlemanly Professor Hershel Layton is now an evil crime lord who rules a semi-dystopian London with an iron fist and an army of goons. But is everything as it seems? Is time travel really possible? More so than the first two games, Unwound Future is in the spirit of a classic detective mystery, and as Layton uncovers each new clue the mystery just gets more intriguing.

Unwound Future does offer a few new additions too, including three new minigames. Like the mechanical dog and hamster in the first two games, you now have three side games to complete: a picture book where you collect stickers of objects to fill in the gaps in the story, a toy car with complex track-based puzzles, and a parrot with puzzles where you help him navigate through a course from point A to point B. Of the three the toy car is easily the most challenging (some of the track solutions are incredibly difficult to figure out), and the parrot game is a fun diversion (way better than the tea making game in PL2), but the picture book game is a bit dull and easy, and feels like merely a means to an end, since completing each game unlocks bonus content.

Aside from the minigames, the only real addition to the main game is the new "superhint" option in each puzzle. If you've spent a hint coin on each of the three regular hints and you're still stumped on a puzzle, you can spent two coins to unlock a superhint that in most cases basically tells you how to solve the puzzle. We didn't use it often, but it was a welcome option in a few cases, and it’s way less icky feeling than looking up a cheat online. And as usual, you can find hint coins hidden everywhere by tapping around the scenery with the stylus.

While it's totally not necessary to play the first two Layton games (Curious Village and Diabolical Box) to play Unwound Future, Layton fans who played the first two will get more enjoyment out of the story. Now that the characters of Layton and Luke have been established in the first two entries, this is the first game in the series to feature a story that's actually character driven and plays off the background of Layton himself. Unwound Future even indulges in some awesome inside jokes, like a running gag about how we never see Layton without his hat – at one point during a cutscene cinema the camera even cuts away right as he's about to take it off. And speaking of cinemas, the cutscenes and hand-drawn art are as beautiful as ever, and there's way more art and voiceover than before.

For those who enjoyed the first two Layton games, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is a must-have, period. And if you haven't played a Layton game yet, what are you waiting for? This is easily one of the strongest series on DS in every regard, from the brilliantly crafted puzzles to the exquisite art. If you are interested in the series, we recommend starting from the beginning though. You'll be glad you did.

Sep 10, 2010

More Info

Available Platforms: DS


  • sveini22 - October 19, 2010 7:52 p.m.

    I have to run to the store now....
  • GameManiac - September 13, 2010 6:32 p.m.

    Thank god I began playing the series with the first game. Ever since then, I love the series. After beating PL2, I'll get this game.
  • The_Tingler - September 13, 2010 6:43 a.m.

    @OhMyJosh: You're one of them, with your triple post! :P Not coming out until next year for you? Do you live in Australia then? I know the UK version is next month... which is why I'm importing it from the US. It won't be any different, if you want the English version.
  • OhMyJosh - September 12, 2010 6:59 a.m.

    Why are there so many spammers?
  • OhMyJosh - September 12, 2010 1:42 a.m.

    You get to see Layton without a hat! OH MY GOD!!! "collapses due to shock". I'm not watching that link, but I'm sure that the hat covers his brain, which is conveniently the size and shape of a large rectangular prism, which frankly his skull cannot contain. Or he's really a dickhead and just wanted to cover it up :P I'm sorry Mr. Layton, wait,!!!
  • OhMyJosh - September 12, 2010 1:36 a.m.

    OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG. Has it even been announced yet? Anyway, I already have it on preorder, but it comes out next year for me :(. And Okamiden is coming out THIS YEAR OMG OMG OMG OMG. You made me too excited Miss Gudmundson. I want it now.
  • GamesRadarCarolynGudmundson - September 11, 2010 6:08 p.m.

    @rouken ...i was trying to avoid spoiling anything for anyone! >_<
  • rouken - September 11, 2010 12:12 p.m.

    @GamesRadarCarolynGudmundson so, they didn't show layton without his hat in the whole game? because i remember seeing a video in youtube that shows him without it. this is the video.
  • metroid2099400 - September 11, 2010 5:52 a.m.

    After playing the first two games, there was no way I was going to miss out on this one, but it's good to know that I haven't been waiting in vain!
  • GamesRadarCarolynGudmundson - September 10, 2010 10:16 p.m.

    @gangjute8 - i meant hint coin! Thanks for the catch. I just like the word picarat too much.
  • gangjute8 - September 10, 2010 10:04 p.m.

    " If you've spent a picarat on each of the three regular hints and you're still stumped on a puzzle, you can spent two picarats to unlock a superhint that in most cases basically tells you how to solve the puzzle." Picarat? Or do you mean Hint Coin?
  • n00b - September 10, 2010 8:59 p.m.

    dahh!!! come on 3ds, too many good DS games to keep track of and to buy in bulk when 3DS comes out
  • frogfromchronotriggerisactuallyjesus - September 10, 2010 8:27 p.m.

    as a fan of the professor layton games, i will be sure to pick this up
  • Conman93 - September 10, 2010 8:21 p.m.

    Yay, I'm so getting this! Really love this series!
  • batmanboy11 - September 10, 2010 7:44 p.m.

    I never did get around to playing the Proffesor Layton games. Maybe I will now.
  • Cyberninja - September 10, 2010 7:25 p.m.

    sounds good might get it later
  • WillisTron - September 10, 2010 7:18 p.m.

    I wish I hadn't sold my DS... (3DS, could you take any longer to come out???)

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