Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Unlike most of the other entries in my blog series, Professor Layton did not break any barriers or introduce new ways to play games (although it did increase the popularity of the puzzle genre immensely). However, the reason I feel it is necessary to discuss it is for the touching and mesmerizing story it tells, as well as the art style, soundtrack, and, of course, the puzzles. All four of these components, on their own, are charming, but when combined they create an irresistible journey that you will never forget for the rest of your life.

“The things we saw in the village that day became a secret we would have to keep from everyone for the rest of our lives. Because, you see…”

With this cryptic message, the adventure begins. Professor Layton, a world-renowned archeologist, received a letter from a woman, Lady Dahlia, saying that her husband, Baron Augustus Reinhold of St. Mystere, has recently passed away. However, when his will was read it was found to be most peculiar, and it did not agree with Lady Dahlia at all.

“The Reinhold family treasure,” it reads, “the Golden Apple, is hidden somewhere within this village. To whomever successfully locates this treasure, I offer the whole of my estate.”

In the letter, Lady Dahlia is asking for Layton’s help in finding the elusive Golden Apple, so she can claim the riches she feels rightfully belong to her.

Luke, a small lad of 10 and “the apprentice of the great Professor Layton!”, remarks, “and so you immediately decided to take her up on her request, eh?”

To which Layton, dressed in a black top hat and black suit, responds, “Ho, ho! Well, Luke, a true gentleman never refuses the request of a beautiful lady.”

“…If you say so, Professor…”

A panoramic view of St. Mystere, a village of singular architecture, citizens and secrets.

Upon arriving in St. Mystere, it becomes apparent that the town, and the townspeople, are quite quirky. The buildings are all at different angles, painted a hodgepodge of colors, and a single, ramshackle tower in the center of the village rises  high above the rest of the architecture. The citizenry are all dressed in odd clothing, and the only thing, it seems, on their mind is puzzles, of all varieties, and they won’t talk about anything else until you have solved the riddle they have put forth.

So, Layton and Luke go about the village, helping the various townsfolk with their predicaments, all the while keeping their eyes open for clues as to the identity of the elusive “Golden Apple.” As the duo search, they stumble upon clues that start to unravel the mystery of the “Golden Apple”, the treasure that everyone is desperately searching high and low for. All I will say is, when you come to the shocking conclusion, your time spent in St. Mystere will take on a completely different meaning. To say any more would risk spoiling one of the greatest stories ever to be told, in any medium.

While the story will get people talking for years to come, and is arguably the greatest aspect of the game, the artwork and music both demand special recognition. The art style is reminiscent of an anime cartoon, but the colors are very defined and make each location spark with its own personality. Each area of St. Mystere seems to be alive, whether it’s a park filled with years of neglect, as evidenced by run-down shacks, a crooked Ferris Wheel, and scraps of litter scattered about the walkway, or a cafe that is nearly deserted, save for a chef working over a hot stove and a bored-looking young lad sitting at a table in the center of the building, waiting for some kind soul to play a game of chess with him. Each building has a defining characteristic, whether it is a door cloaked in vines, or a broken chimney, or just odd-shaped windows, and so every place you visit on your journey is preserved in your memory.

St. Mystere, shrouded in mystery. What are the villagers hiding?

The puzzles range from word problems, to sliding block puzzles, to math puzzles, and they are very clever. You will often find yourself tearing your hair out over a puzzle, only to realize that the answer has been staring you in the face the entire time. They are solvable by people of all ages, yet they can make even the brightest of minds pause for a time.

Ever since the day I finished Professor Layton and the Curious Village nearly four years ago, I knew I had just experienced something special. I think about it even to this day and just smile. I never grow tired of combing the roads of St. Mystere, learning its secrets, and slowly piecing together the identity of the “Golden Apple” that everyone is in a fuss about. Seriously, play this game before everything is ruined for you. You’ll thank me later.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Cynthia
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 05:01:12

    This sounds like a game that even a non-gamer like me might like.


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