Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is the fifth instalment of the Professor Layton series, but the first rendered in 3D. After Professor Layton and the Spectres Call it wasn’t obvious where the series would go next and to some extent the series was in need of an upgrade
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask does just that. The main elements of the game are still there- the wonderful music, the characters of Professor Layton, Emmy and Luke and a mystery to solve in a little town. However it is the changes which give Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask a little nudge above the previous instalments.
One of these changes is how you find items- instead of tapping vigorously trying to find hint coins or hidden puzzles you are now aided by a magnifying glass which turns orange when placed over such items and reveals areas worth investigating for you. This is a bonus as the world is riddled with hint coins and collectables . The visuals are exceptional with the 3D rendering blends in smoothly adding depth and detail.
Character interactions are now no longer still and lifeless- characters gesture whilst speaking and appear in amazing 3D visuals. The backgrounds have people moving within them- it is these little details which add to the immersion of the game.
The story is spilt into two interlinking arcs. In the first, Professor Layton is in Mont d’or, after receiving a hand written letter from his childhood friend Angela Ledore. She requests his assistance in solving the mystery of the masked gentleman, who is terrorising the city. The Masked Gentleman prophesies the destruction of mont d’or by producing terrible miracles due to the powers of the mask he wears. The second arc is set in Professor Laytons childhood- a potentially risky move- however the Professors heart wrenching tragedies makes the past section stand above the rest. Meeting his family and childhood friends gives us a greater insight into Professor Layton and how he became to be a professor of archaeology.
The puzzles within this latest instalment are both entertaining and head scratching. There is a good mix of puzzles from the logic based to block moving puzzles. In addition there are in- game puzzles such as having to choose the correct questions to ask and guiding Professor Layton, Luke and Emmy on horses through the city. As usual there are some mini-games within the briefcase, with my favourite in particular being the shop item placing game- tasking you with chaining together similar items across oddly-shaped shelves in order to trick a customer into buying all the items. My only gripe is that not many of the puzzles rely on the so beautiful rendered 3D effect and the puzzle instructions disappear once read- no longer on the top screen they are hidden until clicked on.
Overall Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is a wonderful game filled with complex puzzles and charming interactions. Combined with the ‘daily puzzle’-a new puzzle available to download every day for year- Professor Layton has stepped up a gear from the already impressive and successful game series.
+ Excellently implemented 3D
+ Young Layton!
+ Free puzzle a day
- Puzzles occasionally cover old ground
– Not enough 3D puzzles