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Review: Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy (Nintendo 3DS)By Adam Riley At 05.10.2017 13:01

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Professor Hershel Layton and Luke are long gone and in their place come a whole new cast to get to know. Leading the way is Hershel Layton's daughter, Katrielle, who, hoping to follow in her father's footsteps, has just opened her own detective shop in good old London town. Like her father before her, she also has a young gentleman assistant, whose name is Ernest Greeves, and it's an apt name as he is indeed terribly earnest; erstwhile, also. A case late in the game serves to explain his entrance into her life and, despite her insistence she does not need an assistant, he refuses to go, mostly due to being absolutely smitten with her. In the first chapter, this cast is extended to include a third main character in the form of a talking Basset Hound who Kat dubs "Sherl O.C Kholmes" who can only be understood by a few humans. Level-5 always liked a touch of the fantastical. The dog has amnesia and is hoping the pair can track down who he really is.

The trio embarks on a series of adventures across London town, solving 12 mysterious cases and over a hundred puzzles within them. Katrielle has a lot to live up to; the previous games have built their reputation with good reason. What started as just a collection of puzzles transformed into so much more by surrounding them with fantastically charming stories. The stories found in this latest instalment retain the charm and the style of the many previous entries, but the problem is that while the charm is there, the quality of storytelling is not. There are two big mysteries teased that seem like they would make for fantastic tales, yet neither is delivered here - the secret of Sherl's past and the truth to just where Professor Layton senior has disappeared off. These are set up, at least, but are left to the inevitable sequels, but they definitely should have been delivered here. Start strong for the new leading lady. Instead, the majority of the game is spent spinning standalone yarns related to the "Seven Dragons," a group of the richest debutantes and aristocrats of London town, with Kat having to help each of them with a variety problems, before culminating in a finale that brings all of the Dragons together in a risky game with Kat at the centre.

The majority of the cases are horribly inane, even as far as having to track down a present for a friend's wife… even worse, each case requires a set amount of clues to be found and as Kat stumbles onto these as the story progresses, many are so obvious that the player already figures them out before the latest wall of text assaults them. There is far too much text in this tale. The core of the gameplay, the puzzles, are the worst seen in the series. There are many that rely on cheap tricks for them to be solved instead of smart riddles or logic puzzles. There are horribly frustrating moments where the answer the game gives is something impossible to extrapolate without using the "super clue." Being difficult is good in these releases - in fact, it's preferable - but this isn't difficult, it's nonsensical. There are some real gems hidden within the catalogue of conundrums but the majority fail to challenge the deduction abilities of those in control and end up making this feel like a pretender to the puzzler crown.

On top of the mediocre story and the annoying puzzles, there are a bunch of extras. There's a game where Sherl has to be led through a maze in a certain amount of moves, a mini-game finding the perfect dish for different characters, a game organising shops for optimal sales and some collectibles, too. Kat and her office can be customised, as well, but all of it is rather brief and forgettable.

While it's great to finally see Nintendo embrace the mobile market with games like Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes, it has had a horrible effect here with Level-5's former classic. Mobile gamers in the West had the opportunity to get their hands on this back in July before it found its home on the 3DS. Granted, this isn't Level-5's first foray into mobile gaming, as it previously released another game based around the Professor Layton's son, in the form of 2012's Layton Brothers, an exclusive to mobile platforms that never made it to 3DS. Layton Brothers, though, felt more of a spin-off, whereas Kat is clearly Hershel's favourite as this feels like the next major instalment in the franchise. Strangely, it's not doing well on mobile platforms, despite being considerably cheaper there, almost half the price in fact. It demonstrates that attitudes to costs of mobile gaming are still stunted thanks to years of freemium and free-to-pay titles. It's something that Nintendo will still have to figure out.

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Final Score
Kat may be a Layton but she's far from "the" Layton everyone knows and loves. [i]Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy[/i] feels more like a pale imitation with glimpses of the greatness that has come before. There's a ton of potential here and the adventure is still enjoyable, but just falls short. It holds a lot of promise for the future, at least, and the story wraps up with plenty of questions unanswered. Level-5 is clearly ready to keep this story going; however, hopefully it is with something much better and more deserving of the series' lineage.



User Comments
#1 Adam Riley (News Editor) - on 06.10.2017 at 20:29

I've been so conflicted by this one. I played it on iOS and mulled over whether I really enjoyed it or not. For a long period I really didn't because it's got some awful puzzles and the cases are mainly complete nonsense. However, then I started to realise that I couldn't put it down because of the production values and some addictive puzzles slotted in. Also, all the extras really do add great longevity/value in the end.

Nowhere near the heights of the series' past, but not terrible, either.

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