Sometimes there is nothing better than sitting down with a nice hot brew and doing a few puzzles. In the days of old the puzzles would consist of crosswords and word searches, and then Su Do Ku’s took the world by storm. The next evolution of puzzle games came for those who bought into Nintendo’s hand held DS and 3DS consoles with the Professor Layton series from indie developer Level-5. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and the latest Layton game, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is just that, an end to an iconic game series, or at least the end of Layton himself as the protagonist according to Akihiro Hino, the CEO of Level-5. Whether that leaves it open to Layton’s apprentice Luke to take over who knows, I guess that’s just another puzzle fans will have to solve.
The latest game follows on from Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask and see’s Layton, his assistant Emmy and his apprentice Luke setting off on a new adventure to uncover the secrets of the Azran legacy. Your journey begins with a trip to visit fellow scholar Professor Sycamore who believes he’s unravelled the archaeological find of the century located in Froenborg, a wintery city where the streets are covered in a blanket of snow. When you arrive you find Professor Sycamore has discovered a living mummy trapped in the ice. Once freed (thanks to a puzzle), they soon realise that the mummy has no recollection of her past, but what they can deduce is that she is from an ancient civilization known as the Azran. From here you’re lead on a globe-trotting journey to solve the many mysteries of the Azran Legacy. All is not so simple though as there are those who stand against you such as Targent, a mysterious organisation who only wish to use the powers of the Azran for their own gain.
The game itself isn’t as new as the story though, Level-5 have stuck to their well-grounded base of how the game works, after all it would be silly to change anything drastically when this is Layton’s final adventure. The one thing that has changed with the Azran Legacy though is that it’s much more widespread than previous games in the series. There is a lot more travelling to do, from taking a ride on one of London’s famous red buses from Kensington to Layton’s university offices, or by airship jumping from continent to continent spending one minute in the rain forest and the next in a great walled city. The best thing as well is that you can travel from any location no matter where you are which allows for the story to stretch across different locations and makes for more varied levels of gameplay rather than following one straight storyline with all the puzzles in order along the way.
As for the puzzles there is now more than ever before and they’ll leave you a lot more puzzled for definite. I spent many a night racking my brains trying to work out some of the puzzles, especially one puzzle where you have to arrange flowers around a house, it left me with little time to sleep but when I did catch some shut eye I was able to clear my mind and push on. So make sure you take a break now and then because it can really help to look at things with a fresh pair of eyes. The puzzles are intertwined with the story a bit better now as well, even if the link is very loose, though you do have the odd random one thrown in there that you can discover by clicking on particular items on the screen. You’ll also have other puzzling challenges as you move through the story, for example when being chased by Targent in Professor Sycamore’s airship, you have to take out multiple attack drones that follow you; this can be done by completing tasks like shooting the odd one out, or the ones that have odd numbers on.
As well as your traditional puzzles you’ll also have other special puzzles to unlock and solve which can be found in your trunk, such as solving the mysteries from articles found in the World Times, Nut Roller (a mini-game involving rolling a squirrels nuts around little assault courses), Blooms and Shrooms (planting magical flowers to help trees grow in a magical garden) and Dress Up (which involves helping out the characters of the game find new outfits). There is a whole bunch of extras that just add hours of more fun. You’ll find all of these little mini-games by playing through the story and solving puzzles, and you’ll then unlock further levels by doing the same. One other puzzle which you can play with friends as well is like an ‘I Spy’ kind of game where you and your friends can create puzzles for each other to see who has the sharper eye; this involves having to find certain objects throughout the game. The more you find the more options you have when coming to create your own puzzles for your friends.
For those of you who have played the previous games you will know that when you complete puzzles you get Picarats which can be used to purchase bonus content when you’ve completed the game, and the Azran Legacy is no different. You earn more Picarats for more difficult puzzles, and if you get puzzles wrong the number of Picarats available reduces. Luckily there are many puzzles in the Azran Legacy, more than previous games, where you don’t have to submit an answer and it will just accept the solution when you find the right one. This means you have less chances of losing Picarats in the game, leaving you with a higher total to spend at the end.
As for the games graphics, it’s not changed at all really from the introduction of the 3D effects seen in the Miracle Mask. You have the lovely animated videos that usually come in between chapters to help the story progress, and the still scenes where you will either chat with those you meet on your journey or search around for clues. The 3D works rather nicely with this, although because the cartoon images are still 2D it is somewhat like a pop-up story book effect, where you can tell it’s not truly 3D but there is depth perception between objects and buildings which I think adds something really nice to the game.
So overall, this a great finish to what has been a truly amazing puzzle series. The story is tight and enjoyable, the puzzles more puzzling than ever and the numerous bonuses and mini-games available will keep you entertained for hours. Hopefully the Azran Legacy won’t be the last of its kind, as these puzzle games are so entertaining but unfortunately they’re also few and far between, but I suppose there are only so many puzzles a game can have before it starts having to repeat itself.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.