Professor Layton & the Unwound Future

9.0 Overall Score

Written by on October 11, 2010 in

Over the last few years the Professor Layton series from developer Level 5 has found substantial success on the Nintendo DS with its mix of challenging puzzles and interesting characters so it is no surprise that we have been given a third installment following the puzzling adventures of the exemplary English gentleman, Professor Layton, and his young apprentice, Luke.  Does Professor Layton and the Unwound Future live up to the standards of the series or is this one puzzle best left unsolved?

The story of Unwound Future opens with Professor Layton and Luke, receiving a letter from someone claiming to be Luke from the future, attending a scientific demonstration of what claims to be the worlds first working time machine. Of course things don’t go quite as planned and when the contraption self-destructs several people, including several scientists and the British Prime Minister, turn up missing without a trace. Without hesitation Layton and Luke take it upon themselves to unravel these mysteries and embark on a journey taking them across London and even ten years into the future where they must contend with a future corrupt version of the good professor.

While the Professor Layton games aren’t the first to try and fit a story element into the framework of a puzzle game most attempts at this tend to be flat or uninspired in its execution. Unwound Future, on the other hand, offers up a carefully crafted narrative filled with colorful characters, a few unforeseen twists, and a ending that tugs gently at the heartstrings. This is further aided by visuals done in the series’ trademark French-style animation, smart use of fully animated cutscenes for important events and high quality voice acting that lends credence to the memorable characters. Once the player accepts that everyone in Professor Layton’s world is oddly obsessed with puzzles it is not hard to be drawn into the narrative and the characters acting it out.

Game play-wise, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future continues the formula of previous games in the series where the player travels the city talking to residents and exploring the environment to uncover puzzles to be solved. Solving these will, in turn, further the narrative or direct the player as to where to go next. The puzzles themselves come in a wide variety testing various cognitive skills like pattern recognition, logical thinking, mathematical problems and spacial thinking just to name a few. The challenge of the puzzles also comes in a wide ranging variety. Some of the introductory puzzles can be solved within seconds while others can involve complex, multi-step thinking to discern the answer. The game doesn’t leave you on your own with these mind benders, though. The memo feature has made a return from previous installment in the series allowing the player to use the DS touchscreen as a transparent notepad for working out problems or making marks on the puzzle board itself. Additionally, for the real stumpers, hint coins can be collected while exploring areas. These coins can be used in exchange for up to four tiered hints on every puzzle. However, there are only a set number of coins throughout the game and the same pool is used inside and outside of the story mode so their use must be carefully considered lest the player run out before the challenging endgame puzzles.

Outside of the main story mode of the game Unwound Future offers an index of all the puzzles that have been discovered in the game as well as ‘Layton’s Challenges’ which boasts the hardest puzzles the game has to offer. The game also includes the option to download weekly puzzles over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection though it is suspected that these puzzles are already contained on the card and all that is downloaded is an unlock key.

All-in-all, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is a finely crafted game that offers both an engaging narrative, polished mechanics, and a challenge that is sure to give players the mental workout they were looking for. Whether you’ve followed the professor from the beginning or this is your first outing, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is more than worth the price of admission and will leave players wanting more long after its conclusion.

A copy of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future was provided to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.


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Author: Tylor Long View all posts by

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