Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy — is the latest in the long-running Layton game series from Level-5. The Professor Layton series comes to mobile first for the first time ever, with a 3DS release in the West slated for October. We also see Professor Layton’s daughter, Katrielle take the spotlight as the whereabouts of the good Professor and his helper Luke are unknown. Kat is setting up shop in London under her father’s name, with the confident motto of ‘any mystery, solved!.’ The experience begins with the ability to choose from one of three save slots and, with a Level-5 ID, sync your save games to the cloud to pickup and play on various devices. You can also download a daily puzzle that can net you Museum Points which you can use to unlock information on the several other Layton titles previously released on Nintendo DS and 3DS platforms. A manual is included for review if you’d like, or you can just partake in the brief tutorials integrated into the main game.
Unlike previous Layton games, another key difference with this one is that there is not one over-arching mystery to solve. Instead, there are twelve distinct mysteries, each with six clues to discover and many dozens of puzzles to encounter and solve. As with previous Layton games, there are the precious Hint Coins and the Picarats. Hint Coins are used to purchase hints during a puzzle, and Picarats are awarded based on the difficulty of the puzzle, and on how many Coins of failures you had during the solving of said puzzle. These puzzles are not for amateurs; I have only played through the original Layton game, Curious Village, but I clearly recall having a lot of difficulty with many of the puzzles in that game. The same is proving true for this latest Layton adventure — the puzzles are brain teasers to be sure, but sometimes, more often than I’d like anyway, the puzzles themselves are hidden in the description itself. It’s almost like you have to decipher a riddle or two to actually understand what the puzzle is asking. This leads to a lot of frustration and a lot of switching over to Youtube for walkthroughs, or it has in my case.
Mini-games and some in-game transactions are included, too. Bumpy Labyrinth has you moving through a square board with a certain destination in mind but only a certain number of movements allowed. Accessory Shop has you running a store and needing to place the most desirable goods in the spots that they’re most likely to sell. There are more, but these extra modes are really just distractions, good for taking a break from the main story if you’d like, but I haven’t found a great deal of interest in these. Similarly, you can purchase alternate outfits for Kat and access her Wardrobe from the handbag option on the lower HUD to change outfits. I believe all of the outfits will be included on the 3DS release in October.
Presentation quality on iOS is stellar, with beautiful, charming animations and sounds. The game can be kind of wordy at times, but the touch/tap/drag interface works very well. Cinematics are shown in landscape mode by default, which you can change with a tap if you’d like, and the game is played in portrait mode, with the lower half of the screen being used for UI interaction and the upper half containing the game world in which you will hover over and tap on NPCs, objects, and so forth. Puzzles come from the main story as well as from talking to NPCs, just like you would expect from Layton game.
At $16, Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is fairly priced and offers a lot of quality content for the puzzler in you. Personally, while I am enjoying my time with the game, I will be looking forward to the 3DS release instead, primarily out of personal preference more than anything. However, if you do not have a 3DS, this latest Layton adventure is a top quality app that shouldn’t disappoint.