Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy (Mobile) Review

Lady Layton Takes the Case!

The puzzle-loving Professor Layton first appeared on the Nintendo DS in 2007, where he unraveled the mystery of a curious village. Since then, Level-5 released new installments on an almost yearly basis before coming to a halt after the sixth game. At last, the time has come to pass the mantle to Katrielle Layton, the peppy daughter of the esteemed professor who has since been missing in action. Although Katrielle’s tenure launched as a budget price mobile game (with the Nintendo 3DS version coming later), Layton’s Mystery Journey is every bit a full Layton game, with a few caveats.

Check out the video version for more puzzles and accents!

The stories in Layton games are notorious for having outlandish premises that culminate into unbelievable conclusions. Unlike Professor Layton’s lengthy adventures, Layton’s Mystery Journey is broken up into multiple episodic cases, some of which can be played in any order. They follow the budding detective Katrielle, a delightful and lovable character who shares her father’s love for puzzles, her assistant Ernest, and talking dog, Sherl O.C. Kholmes (get it?). Yes, there is a talking dog but surprisingly, that’s the most preposterous part of the story. The individual cases are dull and trade the crazy finales of the professor’s entries for more humdrum conclusions. The plot twists are still contrived, but they don’t have the satisfying payoffs that the original games had.

LaytonsMysteryJourney_Mobile_Reviews3.jpg
Katrielle Layton is a delightful character! So is the talking dog!

In each case, you’ll interact with the environment by tapping on a screen designed after the 3DS’ split-screen interface. Occasionally, you’ll uncover clues related to the mystery, whether robbery, murder, or other standard crimes, which are a far cry from Professor Layton’s deadly Pandora’s Boxes and time travel shenanigans. When you collect clues, they are placed into a six-piece jigsaw puzzle, which feels like an underwhelming mechanic considering that this franchise is known for its devious brain teasers. Once you collect all six clues, Katrielle solves the case. I would have loved to have to complete the puzzle myself or play through a sequence to reveal the perpetrator. Instead, a short cutscene features Kat providing the player with all the answers. There is an overarching plot but you wouldn’t know it until the final hour. The threads that were supposed to tie the game together came too little too late to make an impact.

LaytonsMysteryJourney_Mobile_Review7
K.

The Layton series, however, thrives on its puzzles and this game is filled with mindbenders to solve. Despite the individual cases being shorter, they offer an abundance of puzzles – nearly 200, which is well above the standard count. Due to the sad passing of previous puzzle master Akira Tago, Layton’s Mystery Journey has a new designer Kuniaki Iwanami. As a result, the brain teasers feel different, with an uneven emphasis on wordplay and deceitful riddles over block puzzles and spatial reasoning.

There remains a variety of question types, but I quickly grew tired of anything that asked “what is the minimum number of ___?” or “who is lying?” Otherwise, I found most puzzles clever, without being overly frustrating. Aside from a select few awkwardly written questions that purposefully leave out key information, I had little issue solving most brain teasers. For the more difficult problems, you can use hint coins, which you can find while searching for story clues. The only penalty for getting a wrong solution is the loss of Picarats, essentially your puzzle points that do nothing other than unlock goodies postgame.

LaytonsMysteryJourney_Mobile_Reviews6
Here’s a puzzle: What is the minimum number of puzzles that ask for the minimum anything?

Each of the dozen cases took me roughly an hour, and most of that time was spent on deciphering difficult puzzles. As is series tradition, there are downloadable daily puzzles and super hard puzzles to increase the game’s replay value. New to the series is paid DLC, which nets you new costumes and puzzles, neither of which I found necessary. There are also some extra minigames, including preparing meals based on clients’ preferences, placing jewelry on display to convince customers to purchase it, and moving Sherl the dog through a block maze. Out of the three, I didn’t enjoy the meal game and only moderately liked the other two.

Layton games are also known for sporting beautiful art and a soundtrack made up with a rich flavor of accordion and violin music. Katrielle’s tale includes plenty of both, and they’re pleasant to the senses. A-1 Pictures has done a phenomenal job bringing the characters to life with its wonderfully animated cutscenes. Several fully-voiced segments add to the charm.

LaytonsMysteryJourney_Mobile_Reviews5.jpg
Katrielle’s cutscenes retain that special brand of beautiful ridiculosity.

Conclusion

Layton’s Mystery Journey may have a new protagonist and mobile interface, but it keeps the series’ trademark style alive. The episodic cases are hardly compelling, but the puzzles reign supreme, even if some of them are awkwardly worded. Fans will feel right at home with this fully-featured installment. If you haven’t yet experienced a Layton game, however, I would sooner recommend any of the six original Professor Layton entries or even the crossover with defense attorney Phoenix Wright. I want to see more of the delightful Katrielle, but I hope her next game either gives us something new or at least gives us more compelling cases in the future.

Score: 7/10

A review copy was used for this article. This review was originally written for Darkstation.

What are your thoughts on the Professor Layton series? Are you looking forward to following Katrielle’s cases or do you want more adventures with the top-hatted Professor? What’s your favorite Layton game? Do you have a puzzle for me?!

Please share any thoughts, questions, or PUZZLES in the comments section below! Thank you for reading and watching!

Advertisements

32 thoughts on “Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy (Mobile) Review

    1. Great question! The original Professor Layton games had two trilogies, which were meant to be played in order. The original trilogy (Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Diabolical Box, and Unwound Future) were meant to be played in order but could be played as standalone titles with no issue. The second trilogy (Last Specter, Miracle Mask, Azran Legacy) form a prequel trilogy, though you can play them after the first three games if you wish. They are stand-alone, but again, follow a story if you play all three in a row.

      Finally, the game I reviewed here, Layton’s Mystery Journey, starts a brand new series, independent of the rest of the series. It clearly takes place after the original games, but you could start with this game and not need to know anything at all about the old characters. So this is a good start, though I would recommend playing the original trilogy first (Curious Village, etc.) as they represent Layton at his finest. Hope this helped! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That was very helpful, thank you! I think I’ll try to jump into the originals first – I did that picking up the Phoenix Wright series and was not disappointed with what the original trilogy had to offer, so I imagine this might be a similar experience.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re very welcome! Glad I could help! I’d love to know what you think if you ever pick them up. Also, the Phoenix Wright trilogy is one of my favorite series of all time, so I’m glad you experienced it the right way! Speaking of Ace Attorney, there is also a crossover called Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney that you might want to consider after playing through the original trilogy. I loved it a lot! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  1. That reminds me of a puzzle! Excellent review! I’m a fan of Layton games and the brain teasers often have me stumped. It’s interesting to see multiple developers branching out to mobile games, and Level 5 is no exception. It’s kinda cool to see a next generation Layton character, but I’m not ready to say goodbye the the good professor and Luke just yet. It’s too bad the plot isn’t more cohesive, but it’s a good thing the puzzle quality was maintained. I’m OK with talking animals. There are several Layton games I still haven’t played, so it may be a while before I delve into a mobile game without him. Also, my favorite is Professor Layton and the Unwound Future! I loved the ending!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much as always for your encouragement and support! 😀 I think Professor Layton did branch out at some point to mobile (at least the older games), but this is the first to launch as a new title on the iOS and Android market. I actually still have to play the Azran Legacy, so I could technically play another Layton adventure before saying goodbye. But yeah, it’s not quite the same with these new characters, as wonderful as they are. Unwound Future is my favorite Layton game, too! Well, unless we’re counting the crossover game with Phoenix Wright, because that would be my favorite. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely sounds a little weaker than the others, but I look forward to playing it all the same. I just finished completing the third Layton game so after I get caught up I’ll check this one out. The 3DS port should be coming out soon so maybe they’ll add in some features/upgrades that will make the game flow better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely weaker story-wise and a bit puzzle-wise too. I play for the puzzles anyway, and as long as there are enough good ones to keep me occupied, I’m happy. I wonder if the 3DS will add anything beyond including the DLC in its price. I doubt I’d dip in the 3DS one at this point, but I’d be curious to see if anything substantial gets added. Also, ooh, you just finished The Unwound Future? What did you think of that one?

      Like

  3. I am interested in playing Mystery Journey because I have never tried a Layton title before. My concern is that your review is the most positive critique I have read. Other players sound a bit disappointed with this release. Perhaps the change in puzzle master than you mention is the reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, interesting. I had thought my review score was on the low scale. I’m positive on it, but there were definitely things I didn’t like, mostly compared to the older games, including more confusing puzzles and a less cohesive storyline. If you haven’t played a Layton title before, I would recommend any of the first three in the trilogy (Curious Village, Diabolical Box, Unwound Future) over this. Perhaps even the second trilogy (Last Specter, Miracle Mask, Azran Legacy). This is a good place to start storywise since it requires zero knowledge of the first six Layton games. But those original games set a bar for great puzzle game adventures that Katrielle’s story lowered just a little. This is still a good game, but not the first one I would recommend if you could play the older ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe I should start with this game then. My expectations wouldn’t be high, as I haven’t sampled the superior puzzles of the other games. I was also considering the spin-off game starring Phoenix Wright because I like that character.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Puzzle-wise, I think it’s still enjoyable regardless of how confusing some of them are. It’s the story that failed to impress, mostly because of the separate case structure as opposed to the single cohesive plot from the original games. To be honest, I play for the puzzles anyway, so as long as you don’t mind a humdrum story, Layton’s Mystery Journey is a good place to start. If you’ve played the original trilogy of Phoenix Wright, then the crossover game might be good too, just to help you see if you like the Layton style of gameplay. I have an Ace Attorney-loving friend that was introduced to Layton via the crossover game and enjoyed it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a series I enjoy a lot, but I fell behind on it over time. I have only played the first four games. I am intrigued to play this eventually for the new protagonist, but need to catch up on the last couple first! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! I appreciate it! I fell a little behind too and never played the sixth and final game, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy. I was kind of getting burnt out by that point. But coming back to this game reminded me how much I love the puzzles in this series. I might go back to play Azran Legacy in the future now that I’m getting that Layton craving. I would say play Miracle Mask and then Azran Legacy before playing this game, since at least those two have complete cohesive storylines as opposed to Katrielle’s episodic cases. Thanks again! 😀

      Like

    1. Cool! If you haven’t yet played a Layton game, this is a pretty good jumping point. I still prefer the older Layton titles, but this isn’t a bad place to start. And if mobile is more convenient for you than 3DS, then more points for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice review! I’d be really curious to see the Phoenix Wright crossover, since the whole time I was watching this, I kept thinking “OH! Sorta like…”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the Phoenix Wright crossover! But you know I’m biased towards the Ace Attorney. It’s out for 3DS, and I think it’d be a good way for you to kill two birds with one stone and get to know both Layton and Phoenix. Eh? Eh? I’d love to share it with you sometime. 😉

      Like

  6. I saw the announcement of the release date for 3DS, but I’m not sorry I didn’t wait. It works perfectly on mobile, and I think it’s a nice price for this adventure. Not sure if it would merit the price of a full 3DS game?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that LMJ felt very natural on mobile platforms, even with the obvious 3DS split-screen interface. The 3DS price is going to be double, I believe, but will include the paid costume/puzzle DLC for free. It amounts to the same price, but you essentially must pay for the extra content on the 3DS version. I haven’t played the DLC, but it doesn’t seem that meaty. I may be wrong since I don’t have it, but I don’t think extra costumes and puzzles will do it for me. We already have tons of main game puzzles and daily puzzles anyway. Thanks for your comments! 🙂

      Like

    1. Thanks so much as always Ellen! I always appreciate your comments and support! 😀 I highly recommend checking out any of the games from the first Professor Layton trilogy (Curious Village, Diabolical Box, Unwound Future). My personal favorite is the third game, Unwound Future, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. I’d love to know what you think if you ever decide to pick any of the Layton games up!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Like the Judge, most of the reviews I’ve read have weren’t as glowing as yours. The puzzles being more vague and frustrating seemed to be a common complaint. Interesting to see a different reaction.

    Personally, I wish we could have spent more time with the Professor and Luke.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, that’s interesting. I guess it’s relative, since I had been seeing reviews that were more positive than mine. I think the puzzles were more deceitful and more often than not depended on logic gaps and tricky “minimum number of ___” questions, but I didn’t think they were bad. I’m not the biggest fan of the story, but the puzzles were only slight below the average I’m used to with Layton puzzles.

      I do wish we could have spent more time with Professor and Luke. We did get six games though, and I didn’t even play the sixth game, so the new characters are a nice change of pace. I just wish they were put into more interesting situations.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. lol loved your riddle at the end. This was pretty informative, I for whatever reason though the Layton series was more inline with how Phoenix Wright games played. I guess there being a cross over through me off. Either way great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thanks a lot! 😀 The Layton series is very different from the Phoenix Wright games. I enjoy them both, but I vastly prefer the Ace Attorney series for its focus on mysteries and solving them through epic court sequences. Layton is comparatively laid-back and mostly features puzzles (which aren’t necessarily relevant to the story) and a loosely told story. The crossover is amazing for incorporating both gameplay styles into one!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s