Movies in general always require a suspension of disbelief, but it’s especially true for a kids movie. It isn’t necessarily for the more fantastical stuff like dragons and spaceships and whatnot, but just for the fact that the entire movie has been scrubbed clean of foul language and/or blood and/or excessive violence. For far too many kids movies, doing so probably doesn’t net you anything you might consider of entertainment value. The kids might fall for the sight gags and bathroom humor, but us adults will just be bored to tears. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, like all of its previous iterations and undoubtedly its future iterations as well, requires a generous amount of your suspension of disbelief.
You start by having to dismiss the general look of just about everyone you meet in the game. If Professor Layton and Luke, Layton’s apprentice, looks too ridiculous to you, than you haven’t met Belle, an egg shaped “lady” with two sticks sticking out on the bottom for legs, or Delmona, an elderly gentleman whose head is shaped like an eggplant complete with hair shaped exactly like the stalk of one, or Colby, a police officer with a chin that would make Bruce Campbell jealous. Although there are some people in the game that looks somewhat normal, you’re more liable to run into someone that you’d think just wondered off of a horror movie set, and I don’t mean the busty blond chick either.
After that, then you have to dismiss the fact that for some reason or another everyone just can’t wait to either tell you a puzzle they just made up, ask for help on a puzzle that’s been driving them nuts, or, the strangest ones by far, stump you with a puzzle instead of beating you up. Every thug you run across doesn’t stop you through violence. They do it with a puzzle. You solve it. They let you through. Even the main villain who have hidden motion sensors in the room which, when tripped, detonates a bomb gives you a map that tells you where the sensors are, after you decode it of course. All the locked doors in the game are locked with a puzzle. A cat, which for some reason or another Luke can talk to, that you come across has not one but two puzzles for you.
If you were to even stop for one second and let disbelief sink in, then the entirety of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future just falls apart. It really doesn’t stand a chance. But, and I’m sure you saw this coming, if you do decide to keep disbelief at bay, which frankly isn’t hard at all, Unwound Future is not only the best Professor Layton game to date but also a fine game by any standard.
True to the series, the characters you come across may look hideous but they have very charming personalities. It’s as if their innocuous, lovable personalities are given form, and they mesh so well together with their appearance that it’s hard to imagine them looking any other way. Even though you’re given these 150 or so puzzles in a pretty contrived way, the actual puzzles are very clever puzzles usually with a little twist, and trying to catch that little twist to the puzzle is really half the fun. The memo function is markedly improved from before with the addition of different colors, 2 pen sizes, and an eraser. For some puzzles, the memo function is absolutely invaluable. With 150 puzzles, you’ll definitely find at least one that just seems impossible to solve, but the game offers 4 levels of hints, compared to 3 levels in the last 2, for every puzzle going from a very subtle hint on the first level to giving you half of the answer on the last.
All this is true of the last two Professor Layton games, but what really pushes this one over the top is its story. In Layton style, the story offers what seems like a ridiculous set up, and still in Layton style, the big reveal is just as ridiculous as the setup itself. This time around though, the story is connected to Professor Layton on a personal level. We’ve always seen Professor Layton as a caricature. He’s a professor of archeology who is a paragon of an English gentleman who just happens to love solving puzzles. This story will reveal to us that Layton is indeed a real character, and the poignant ending should make for some very damp tissues. I didn’t mean me. I mean for the sensitive types out there. You know the weepy types. Although the main villains are kind of maniacal in what they’re doing, they’re largely motivated by anger and grief, two very elemental emotions that could easily get the better of anyone of us. Some might just go see a therapist and call it a day, but a few others might build a (redacted) complete with a giant (redacted) hidden under the (redacted).
The Professor Layton series is ultimately the strangest delivery method for a book of 5th grade level puzzles, and the previous iterations really didn’t try hard enough to make the story of the same quality as the puzzles. Unwound Future is the first, and hopefully not the last, to present both a great set of puzzles and a compelling story in addition to the already charming art style. All you have to do find those nuggets of goodness in this game is to believe in a world of hideous looking, puzzle fanatics.
- Wonderful art style.
- Improved memo function and hint system.
- Good, touching story.
- Tapping for hint coins gets kinda tiring after a while.
- Some parts felt a little bit like padding.
Confused about our score? See our Ratings Guide.