Developer – Level 5
Publisher – Nintendo
Platforms – 3DS
Professor Layton is in the process of evolution and can be considered a benefiting change that will forever change how we view these games starring the puzzling Professor. As the professor moves into a new generation we begin to see a new style of change and it in some ways is a change for the better.
The latest game in the Professor Layton series takes as to the city of Monte D’or, a city founded in the desert as part of a belief which I can’t exactly go into without spoiling the stories. Professor Layton has been called to Monte D’or by an old friend to investigate the appearance of a mysterious figure known as the Masked Gentlemen. The figure has been terrorizing Monte D’or and the professors old friend believes that he is the only one who can stop the supposed miracles and unmask the Masked Gentlemen. While in theory the story sounds good it never quite reaches the brilliant masterpiece that is Lost Future and arguably is quite predictable with many of its mysteries being easily worked out but that still does not stop the game from being great while it lasts.
On the other side of the story we leave the major mystery behind to follow a back story that all connects into the major mystery. Similar to Lost Future we get to see more of the back story surrounding Professor Layton, the major difference however is that this sequence is fully playable and takes places between every other chapter. In this era we get to see the Professor in his school days and meet some of his friends, during this time we see out currently big haired friend in quite a different light and see what encouraged the Professor’s life decisions. Going deeper into a character we know now so well is quite exciting.
There is a few major differences held between this section and the more traditional investigation that is the main focus of the story. As well as seeing a much different looking Hershel Layton we also find a new style of gameplay that we get to go through temporarily. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask at this point turns into more of a dungeon crawler then a mystery puzzle game, while it still remains as a puzzle game requiring you to figure out certain things it mostly acts as a monotonous chore that I wish I could skip. I appreciate the attempt to mash up the gameplay and do something different but this section never became much fun in the slightest and really slowed down the game in the middle of the mystery.
Outside of the small dungeon crawling section and the story, puzzles still remain one of the key parts of the basic game. As usual they go from easy to hard and more than half of these I solved with barely any trouble at all. Sadly many of the puzzles used in the game are basic multiple choice answers that often just involved guessing but there are still several that will make you think. There is a certain theme that goes along with a selection of puzzles in Miracle Mask that all relate to archaeology or just old things such as totems and other such things. I often liked how these puzzles differenced themselves from ones I seen the past and I found many of them to be quite clever with an answer I never would have initially predicted. Puzzles are still fun and always great to redo when they are challenging and Miracle Mask has a good selection of these. I would say there are a selection of pathetic puzzles on display here but for the good selection within the story these bad puzzles are easily looked over.
Miracle Mask is a new start for Professor Layton fans with many changes made this mostly comes down to the transition from the DS to the 3DS and the capabilities of the console. With the added power we get to see a new dimension in the series and I feel it is a change for the better. While cutsecenes still often remain as hand drawn cinematic there is a real difference presented in other forms. For starters characters are longer two dimensional, they now appear as fresh three dimensional figures which while repetitive and a bit dull in their animations it really makes for a nice difference from previous games.
The environmental display has also had a similar makeover, in past games we only had the view given directly in front of us and while they always looked nice we now get to see even more. Using some of the features of the game we get to see entire landscapes as if it was someone’s view. Also I found that I couldn’t help but often take a look at many of the environments with the 3D on, it never lasted long but it really helped to add a certain layer of beauty and a nice view to the environments. Certainly it would be easy to discuss the upgrade in the graphics of the latest Professor Layton game, but it really goes without saying more that it just looks so great.
In a lot of ways Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask fails to provide some of the great experience that captured our attention in the previous games, but by the same respect it also improves I other ways. I personally hope that future games in the series improve on this games faults, but either way Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask still does a great job in being fun and being a mostly enjoyable experience that I am sure Professor Layton fans will have a decent time with for the most part.