Professor Layton and the Unwound Future Review

When sequels are born, those who await them hope that not only will the game retain its gameplay or characters, but that they will also build on those aspects, creating a more intuitive playing experience or deeper, more involved character development. Games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 are prime examples of better gameplay, while Metal Gear Solid 2-4 are better examples of excellent character development. Rare is the game that does both, but would you believe that the most recent example comes from a man in a top hat who solves puzzles?

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is easily the best game in the series, both in gameplay and in storyline. The puzzles are what you’d expect: brain teasers and math problems that will make you scratch your head. Hint coins are still abundant in the world, though I will say I used more in this game than in either of the other two. New to this game is the inclusion of "puzzle battles," a series of quick puzzles during crucial moments of the story that aren’t included in the main puzzle count. These are a nice break from the normal puzzles, both in format and in the "lose and start over" ultimatum.

Professor Layton and Luke

Aesthetically, the game is just as pleasing to the eye and ear as the previous games. The scenes are vibrant with color (even the dingy areas), the music is upbeat (except for the end, when the music turns as serious as the scene itself), and each character has a distinct personality, whether it’s Hazel, the guy who’s always scared of you, or Belle, the girl who falls in love with Luke without even learning his real name (she calls him "Fluke"). Fans of the series will feel right at home traveling around the world of the Unwound Future.

The best part of this game, however, lies in the narrative. This is without a doubt the best story in the entire series, and possibly one of the best on the DS. Now, the reason for this praise is not for the adventure itself (solve puzzles, save London), but rather for what it does to the characters themselves. Before this game, Professor Layton was just a man who had a knack for solving puzzles with his apprentice Luke. This game fills in a lot of the back story of our dear friend, including the origin of his trademark hat and the reason why being a gentleman is so important to him. Even Luke is given another layer of complexity when he reveals a certain fact in the middle of the game. This character-building is enhanced even more by some of the best voice acting I’ve ever heard. Layton would not have been enhanced as a character nearly as much as he was without the voice talents of Christopher Miller portraying him. One scene later in the game is particularly powerful, as it shows an emotion from Layton I thought I’d never see: grief. I can’t emphasize enough what this game does to the most important characters in the series; you will see them in a whole new light after playing this.

If you are a fan of the previous Professor Layton games, there’s no reason at all to not play and enjoy The Unwound Future. If you’re not a fan of puzzle games, then the game isn’t for you, but if your main gaming focus is narrative, then you might want to get over your aversion for puzzles. The Professor is back, and luckily for all of us, he’s better than ever.

5 out of 5


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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