“All good things must come to an end,” as the saying goes, yet I hadn’t taken the announcement particularly well that Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy would be the esteemed gentleman’s final puzzle-riddled endeavour.
Together we’d discovered why the foggy town of Misthallery had been suffering destructive attacks from an ominous spectre and debunked the miracles performed in Monte d’Or by the Masked Gentleman, not to mention his first three outings. His deft deductions coupled with my fumbling responses to whatever puzzles were thrown at me were a force to be reckoned with, so I can at least be grateful that our matched talents could be put to use in a concluding hurrah to the greatest gentleman that has ever graced a video game. And what a spectacle to end on.
It all begins in familiar fashion with Layton being summoned to the snowy mountain town of Froenborg by fellow archaeological scholar Professor Sycamore, sharing his discovery of a young girl who has been entombed in ice for some million years. Awakened from her slumber it becomes apparent that the girl, named Aurora, was held in stasis until she would be found by a future civilisation. Wandering off she unknowingly activates a nearby Azran ruin, which soon sees Layton, Sycamore and the returning Emmy Altava and Luke Triton thrust on another quest for knowledge as they seek to unravel the secrets of the Azran legacy.
As equally absurd as the other plots that line the series, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy’s fanciful narrative direction easily takes the prize as being among the strongest in Layton’s lineage. Intricately weaving references to that which has come before, we can also find delight in a newly emerging threat from Targent, a menacing organisation bent on unlocking the power of the Arzan.
Everything else falls into place as expected, with the game still a rather text-laden affair and villagers retaining their tendency to only divulge information if Layton’s entourage can first prove themselves by tackling the quandaries of a puzzle.
These are some of the trickiest that has ever been posed to the Professor, with even some of those early in the game promising to have you rushing to spend your precious Hint Coins. The 3DS has clearly granted a new lease of life to the inventiveness of puzzles, and you’ll find much to enjoy from those that permeate throughout the game. Fear not that you’ll miss any either, with Granny Riddleton’s elaborately moustached kitty Keats gathering any that remain unsolved as you progress.
The downtrodden town of Kodh and the bustling suburbs surrounding London’s Kensington High Street act as a prelude to non-linear story progression appearing for the first time in the series, when the group sets out to reclaim five Azran eggs scattered across the globe. Players can choose in which order to travel to each location, putting to use Sycamore’s airship The Bostonius, with the eggs snuggly hidden in Hoogland, an idyllic hillside farming community, and the walled city of Mosinnia which is tied to a legend of a sleeping phoenix, among others. Such variety in locales grants Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy a colourful palette from which players will enjoy a richly diverse selection of scenery to wander through.
As per usual, diversionary minigames make a return to extend the experience. Dress Up echoes New Style Boutique by tasking you with putting together the perfect outfit for a customer, whereas Nut Roller sees you in control of Hazel the squirrel as you push a walnut around a treacherous course toward an end goal. Meanwhile, Blooms & Shrooms tasks you with planting four types of flower to rejuvenate separate gardens, with each blasting energy to adjacent squares in differing ways – think Bomberman but with plants. Each has their quirks, and extend the already lengthy experience of Layton’s latest quest.
A sumptuous orchestral score and wondrously animated cutscenes can be seen as the icing on the cake to what amounts to being one of LEVEL-5’s most finely crafted adventures to date. With a tip of his hat, Professor Layton bows out in exemplary style. You will most certainly be missed.
Version Tested: Nintendo 3DS
Review copy provided by Nintendo