Conquer puzzles, solve mysteries and test your skills in Layton’s Mystery Journey [Game of the Week]

A smartphone port with the presence of a full console title

As a video game, Level-5’s Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is a strange thing to discuss.

This is a game that’s ostensibly a smartphone port masquerading as a main series entry, but also a genuine, full-fledged entry in the Professor Layton series.

Let me explain. Layton’s Mystery Journey was released on Android and iOS globally on July 20th, 2017 — it also released as a Nintendo 3DS title in Japan on the same day. The rest of the world didn’t get the 3DS version of the game until October 6th, 2017. So the question then becomes, is Layton’s Mystery Journey a mobile port of a 3DS game, a fork of a 3DS game, or simply the same game that’s playable on both mobile and 3DS?The answer, in my opinion, is that this is one of the few mobile games that’s the same game as it is on console — with the obvious caveat being that a smartphone screen is completely touch-enabled, while the Nintendo 3DS only has a single, smaller touch panel.

What then of Layton’s Mystery Journey’s virtues as a game? Fans of the Professor Layton series will be happy to know that the franchise’s notoriously challenging puzzles return — as well as the franchise’s detective fiction-style stories.Newcomers to the franchise will enjoy the game’s pace, its colourful characters, its engaging story, as well as its insistence on challenging player’s with delightfully puzzling puzzles.

New to the Layton’s Mystery Journey, however, is a collection of seemingly disconnected, episodic cases — instead of a single clearly connected overarching narrative. Still, don’t let episodic storytelling stop you from giving this title a shot — the puzzles remain challenging and the series’ dialogue remains witty and sharp.

Also new to the franchise is protagonist Katrielle Layton — daughter of the franchise’s eponymous detective Professor Hershel Layton. When the game begins, Katrielle is a novice detective who’s just opened her agency. Her ambition and tenacity — as well as her desire to live up to her famous name — make for  familiar, but nonetheless powerful, character traits. Katrielle serves as a fantastic surrogate for the audience — we grow as she grows and, of course, we learn as she learns.In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t quite yet finished Layton’s Mystery Journey. I’m a fan of the series, but I’m not very good at solving Professor Layton puzzles, so I often need a little bit more time to stew on particularly difficult puzzles. Regardless, the game has been a delight to play, and at half the price of the 3DS version of the game, it’s an absolute steal.Layton’s Mystery Journey is available on Android for $21.67 and on iOS for $21.99.