Cristofer Hess On March 13, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy 01“Puzzle solving is a most gentlemanly pursuit.” So says Professor Hershel Layton, the most gentlemanly of gentleman archaeologists. In his latest adventure “Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy” for the Nintendo 3DS, you will have hundreds of chances to be gentlemanly – or ladylike – as you help Layton and his companions solve a global and historic mystery, solving puzzles all along the way.

In this game, reported to be the last starring Professor Layton himself, the mystery surrounds a strange girl who has been locked frozen inside a block of ice in a cave for a million years. A million years! How could she have survived so long, and what secrets does she keep? You and the Professor will attempt to find out, by searching for clues, unraveling mysteries, tapping everything in sight to find coins or random objects, figuring out why water won’t come out of a garden hose, making sure a back yard has no two flowers of the same color next to each other, and calculating how long it will take the elevator to go up twenty-five floors.

Yes, these are the types of activities it will take to solve the mystery of the million-year-old girl. Well, mostly. Sometimes you don’t even need to solve the puzzles in order to move on. But you will tap on the scenery a lot. At its core, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is a mystery story. Not quite a detective mystery – though detectives do get involved. Think Indiana Jones meets Sherlock Holmes, with a bit less action and more reading and thinking. You follow the story, sometimes viewing well-animated scenes, other times reading the characters interacting with each other on screen, where most of the sleuthing takes place. Other bits of gameplay involve searching the scenery for clues, tapping everything you see in search of more information. Most of the rest of the time you will be solving mind bending puzzles in order to placate passers-by, to get them to reveal what information they know.

This is where suspension of disbelief comes in handy. In fact it is absolutely necessary to complete Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy. I understand this is a puzzle-solving game that the entire point is to have an excuse to solve hundreds of different kinds of those puzzles. But sometimes it seems absolutely absurd that when people’s lives are in danger, women are missing, and an important historical mystery is at stake, that someone with valuable information would withhold it, requiring that you do a little brain puzzle before they’ll tell you anything. I suppose it’s intended to be humorous and silly, but if I were looking for a kidnapped million-year old girl and every second counted, and a person with information on the girl’s whereabouts refused to tell me anything until I figured out which flowers go where in a hypothetical yard, I would likely punch them.

This may be the deciding factor in whether or not you like Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy. Do you like solving puzzles, and enjoy going along for the ride in an archaeological mystery in order to play with these puzzles, and collect as many as you can so that you can solve them over and over to your heart’s content? Or maybe you enjoy mysteries, and want to discover what happens, watching Layton and friends do all the legwork while you figure out logic or math problems. Professor Layton games to have a particular kind of audience that would enjoy one or both of these things, though the connection between the mystery and the puzzles seems very tenuous at best.

By now you probably know whether or not you’d like this game. It’s the latest in a long-running series, and fans are sure to want to play this one. If you’ve never picked one up before, you may want to try an earlier release in the series, since technically the games are in somewhat chronological order, at least in trilogies. But there’s no reason you can’t just jump right in. You won’t be lost, and this game has more puzzles than the others. (In fact, there will be a new puzzle downloadable each day for the entire first year after the game’s release.)

Though the odd, but unique, premise is a little jarring, the game is rather enjoyable. The cut scenes are high quality animation, with good voice acting, and are really fun to watch. They present a nice mix of comedy and suspenseful action, and are one of the best uses of 3D visuals I’ve seen on the 3DS. The exploration areas are nice in 3D, too, looking very deep, and scrolling quite a bit as you drag the stylus around the screen. Unfortunately these areas seem to be there simply to unlock more puzzles, and coins that you spend on hints to help you solve those puzzles. There are objects to collect, and look at, but mostly tapping around reveals bits of conversation among Professor Layton and his companions that has little to do with the mystery at hand. They comment on landmarks one at a time until moving on to the next one. Once the area is thoroughly explored, and a puzzle discovered, Layton moves to the next area. This is how most of the game is played, unless you spend most of the time with unlocked puzzles or minigames outside of the story.

There are other things to do besides puzzles and mysteries. There is a dressup minigame (collect random clothing items in the environment, and tailor an outfit for a citizen that is to their liking), and collecting random items during your journey. The puzzles once unlocked can be revisited again.

The music is good. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it, really. I did find it a bit repetitive and overly lighthearted in most instances where action wasn’t happening, but it is very much background music. I noticed that if my attention was drawn to it, it got a little annoying. Just the sheer amount of time you spend exploring, and solving the puzzles, you’ll be spending a lot of time with it. It’s probably just my personal preference in music coloring my opinion, and you may not find it as grating.

Despite the disparity in the mystery story and the puzzle solving parts of the games, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is fun. Sometimes the puzzles get difficult, but that is what hints are for. The story and cut scenes are enjoyable. The characters are likable, and the mystery is… mysterious. It may not be for everyone, but for the right player, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is a puzzle-solving mystery-uncovering good time.


If you enjoy mind puzzles, you’ll probably love this game. If not, this game isn’t for you.


Very enjoyable animated cut scenes. Great looking 3D imagery, even if its use isn’t integral to gameplay.


Nothing wrong with the sound. My only complaint is the somewhat repetitive background music. Nice voice acting though.


Enjoyable story and puzzles that will exercise your mind, but definitely intended for a specific audience.

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