Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires Conspiracy Deluxe Edition Review
It’s been a long time since we last saw Professor Layton and his assistant Luke, but Layton games are never truly gone. Over the last year the successor to Hershel Layton, Katrielle Layton, has been released across mobile devices, the 3DS and now the Switch. As is often the case, the Switch edition is the deluxe edition. It contains everything that’s been released for the game so far, as well as boasting the largest number of puzzles in one Layton game.
Professor Layton has vanished and his daughter Katrielle Layton is starting up a detective agency following in the Professors footsteps. This isn’t like the previous games with a large grand mystery, filled with the odd over the top moment of action as the story hits its climactic moment. At the start of the game you’re introduced to a talking dog with amnesia, whom Katrielle names Sherl(ock). But before she can investigate the case, a much bigger one comes up that only a Layton can solve. Instead of a lengthy mystery or story, Layton’s Mystery is comprised of smaller cases that are vaguely connected by helping a group of London’s most wealthy and powerful elite known as The Seven Dragons.
For a game that came out on mobile at the same time as the 3DS (at least in Japan), the case structure feels like it was made for shorter gameplay sessions. Cynically, maybe also made this way to be sold in DLC bundles on mobile. Katrielle, her assistant Ernest, and the aforementioned talking dog Sherl will travel all around London (often backtracking around it too), solving mysteries that range from the interesting to filling in time. These loosely strung together cases felt like a real step down from the previous games. The cases generally sort themselves out, instead of working out where and who you need to talk to next or investigate. It feels like you’re watching a story play out, not taking part in. Some things don’t ever really get addressed such as the mystery of Sherl the talking amnesiac dog that some people can hear talk. There’s nothing more really about it, even though the game puts it forward as a mystery at the very beginning.
Katrielle has the same confidence in solving puzzles and the gut feeling about a mystery that Hershel Layton shared, but she doesn’t have the luxury of six games to add detail to her character. Besides her love of puzzles and food, she’s also either intentionally or completely unawares to Ernest’s constant affections towards her. That is pretty much Ernests character. He is completely enamoured by Katrielle, which is hammered in to a point where it’s bordering on uncomfortable. While the story and characters themselves might not live up to a standard that the series has set before it, it is still very much a Layton game. There is a quaint and whimsical charm that the series has and it’s present here too. The character interactions can still be endearing, even if you can solve the mystery well before the end of the case.
If you’ve played a Professor Layton game you’ll feel right at home here. For those that haven’t, it is nearly a point and click adventure game with lots of brain teasers instead of environmental puzzles. Each scene is filled with scenery to tap on to either get some description from a character, collect a hint coin or uncover a puzzle to solve. There’s often someone standing around to talk to, either to progress the case to the next area or provide a puzzle to solve. If you’re familiar with the series then you’ll be used to tapping around the screen to try and find every last sneakily hidden puzzle or hint coin. If anything, this rampant coin and puzzle hunting fills out the time it takes to solve these less than stellar mysteries. If you ever need a break from working through the cases, you’ll also unlock minigames that offer extra puzzle work outside of the kind you’ll usually find. In Layton’s Mystery there’s working out the perfect meal to serve some very picky customers, and a series of mazes you’ll earn through the game.
The puzzles don’t feel quite the same as they have been in the past. Given the variety of the forms of puzzles over the series, it will vary how you feel about them in Layton’s Mystery. Early into the game, you start coming across puzzles that are ‘trick’ puzzles that toy with the language used, which is unfortunate to me because it made me second guess the language used whenever the instructions felt unclear. Personally I enjoy the movement-based puzzles, the sort where I can muck around with it until I get it right. It felt like there were more of those, especially within the daily puzzle section. With just over 6 games overflowing with brainteasers, there is nothing new if you’ve played a Layton game before. Layton’s Mystery does boast the largest amount of puzzles, with some additions to the Switch version. The puzzles make the transition from the 3DS (and mobile) version smoothly. If you have a capacitive stylus on you it’s similar enough as playing the older titles. Everything is moved around to fit within the one screen when it’s something that would have used both screens you can easily swap which part of the puzzle you want to enlarge.
Retaining the memorable style from the previous Layton titles, the Level-5 character art and designs are still fitting. While The Professor and Luke were often in fictional locations, Layton’s Mystery adds a layer of whimsy to London. The 3D models that the series have gone with for awhile now look great on the Switch, and are definitely a step up from the 3DS. Like the visuals, the music and sounds feel very familiar and very ‘Layton’. Fortunately, it’s pleasant to listen to while you travel around London, or take your time racking your brains over a tough puzzle.
The 3DS port wouldn’t have exactly been high-resolution visuals, but the mobile version never had the same limitations. The Switch benefits from having nice crisp HD visuals, which is great because the visual style of the Layton series has always been delightful. The mobile and 3DS versions had use of a touchscreen, but it’s not always guaranteed when using the Switch. You can use the touchscreen in handheld just like you would for the other versions, but there’s also physical controls or even motion controls if you wish. You can use a Joy-Con like a pointer if you don’t enjoy the somewhat sensitive physical controls. Personally I used a combination of physical and touchscreen just out of convenience. It never feels like the game was worse off from the move to the Switch
Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires Conspiracy Deluxe Edition is as complete as this game will get, with the added benefit of being on a current console. The spirit of the Layton series continues on, but the story doesn’t live up to its predecessors. If you’re here for the puzzles there is more than ever, there are even extra daily puzzles. Just be prepared for a few too many ‘trick’ puzzles or unclear instructions that can have you second-guessing often. At the end of the day, Layton’s Mystery Journey is a decent game that will hopefully lead into a grander adventure with Katrielle at the helm.
+ Still has the Layton look and sound
+ Daily puzzles and mini-games are a nice distraction
+ As playable on the Switch as the 3DS version
- Cases feel like they’re on autopilot
- Not the best puzzles
- The majority of the story feels trivial