There are two reasons I found this game to be a little more challenging to play compared to many other interactive experiences I’ve sat through this year. The first reason is that I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a smart man. Look at me, I play virtual toys and give me thoughts on their quality to put some money into my bank account; intellect is not something that is overflowing from my noggin, hence the need to consult someone that is profoundly knowledgeable, my girlfriend Amy. Which feeds into my second problem with playing Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy Deluxe Edition, and which stands as maybe the most accurate testament to this game’s quality: I couldn’t pry my Switch out of her clutches because of how engrossed she was with the puzzles pouring out of Layton’s beautifully rendered London.
So this is going to be a touch different to the normal review because I felt the need to include Amy in the process of evaluating Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy Deluxe Edition because without her studious wit and steadfast logic I probably wouldn’t be in a position to evaluate this game in any capacity. To cut the longs from the shorts, let me just say this: We both adored this game, and relished in the opportunity to catch up on the Professor Layton series after missing out on its original release on 3DS and mobile.
With her father, the ever intelligent and wise Professor Layton, out of the picture Katrielle Layton decides to follow in his footsteps and sets up a small detective agency in the heart of London, joined by her thirsty assistant Earnest and a talking dog, Sherl. It’s a talking dog named after Sherlock Holmes, why are you rolling you eyes at that? While business does start off slow, the cases eventually start growing in both importance and difficulty as Katrielle is thrown into the titular Millionaire’s Conspiracy and expected to unravel all the loose threads. Is it going to redefine storytelling as a medium? No, definitely not. While the plot and mystery of all the cases hardly ever leaves to astonished gasps of realisation as the game twists your expectations of their head, I doubt that Layton’s Mystery Journey is looking to do that. As Amy so deftly points out, the point of Layton isn’t to provide the player with a Steven Moffat-esque plot twist that subverts expectations. They’re thin little mysteries that act as a means to string together the game’s puzzles, so while you’re not going to spend ages figuring out who nicked a clock hand off Big Ben you’ll rather be putting that brainpower into solving the bevvy of puzzles dotted through the main story and around the various screens. Thanks, love!
Puzzles are where the game truly shines, going so far as to integrate the conceptual idea of “puzzle” into objects just merely lying around, like used chip packets scattered in the breeze. Layton’s Mystery Journey doesn’t have to come up with some inane excuse for a character to solve a puzzle when they’re literally dangling off every streetlight like intellectual litter. They are an absolute joy to behold and despite there being so many brain ticklers throughout Katrielle’s London adventure, they never outstay their welcome with repetition. Certain formats may be reused, but every puzzle feels like a curated experience that someone put a great deal of effort into. Logic puzzles, maths problems and even a few trick questions always keep you looking in excitement to see what form the next challenge could be and while I think some dodgy translation does initially stifle create some obtuse and difficult to parse encounters, I soon got to grips with the format the game was expecting of me.
Amy would like to me add that Layton’s Mystery Journey feels a touch easier than previous entries in the franchise, although she surmises that this has nothing to do with the quality of the puzzles but more to do with many of the quality of life improvements added through this latest entry. While previous games may have required the use of paper and pens to map out a maze, Layton’s Mystery Journey allows a level of interactivity that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to solve, but less of a burden to crack. Which is a great point I think, considering how well this latest iteration of a traditionally dual-screen oriented franchise handles the leap to a single screen, with toggle menus that allow for sketches, reminders and general guidance using the Switch’s touch screen and Joy-cons.
Which is a real blessing because I’ve been craving a Professor Layton game on the Switch. While the overall character writing may not be as tight as previous games, Katrielle often being written inconsistently to appear polite and bubbly and off-puttingly rude within a single conversation, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some jokes that made me chuckle. That being said, it is very easy to make me laugh as Amy has now reminded me of that Vine with the baby covered in peanut butter.
Despite some of these inconsistencies and groan-inducing puns, there’s a wonderful amount of charm in every frame of Layton’s Mystery Journey. From the off-the-wall character designs to the lovingly recreated vistas of London, everything in the game looks stunning. I think it would take a person with heart of stone to play through the entire game and not at least smile at just how beautifully presented it all is.
With the addition of forty new puzzles, a slew of daily puzzles and plenty of quirky mini-games, Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy Deluxe Edition is a wonderful bundle of fun. Overlooking some of the inconsistent writing and vague explanations in the beginning of the game, there is just so much game to tickle your cerebellum that it would put Dr Kawashima to shame. Even as I write this in my office, I’m fairly confident Amy has plugged my Switch in once again and leapt back in to search for any puzzles she missed on her first time around. The best version of one of my favourite puzzle game series.
Last Updated: November 11, 2019