Like every gamer, there are never enough hours in the day, which often means there are many, many games that we never get around to playing. The Professor Layton games represent a neglected franchise for me. I had always thought I would enjoy them, after all I like puzzles and mysteries, but somehow I never got around to playing it until now.
In Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy – Deluxe Edition we follow new and young detective Katrielle Layton, daughter of Professor Layton (the protagonist of the previous games) who appears to have been missing for some time. Following in her sleuthing father’s footsteps she starts a detective agency in London with her love-struck assistant Ernest. Katrielle’s first client turns out not to be human at all, but a talking dog with amnesia named Sherl(ock) that only the pair can understand. While Sherl’s identity and origin are supposed to be your first case you get sidetracked almost immediately by a theft from a UK icon.
Elementary I dare say
Like its predecessors, Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is a puzzle game combined with a visual novel/point-and-click adventure. The campaign contains twelve cases, each focusing on one of London’s aristocrats or major characters within the game. As the story unfolds you will be asked to solve puzzles to prove your worth or to discover clues. The level of puzzle difficulty and variety is perfect, with a good mixture of straightforward, abstract and complex puzzles, some of which had me reaching for a pen and paper or using the in-game memo function. If you get stuck you’ve got the opportunity to help yourself with Hint Coins up to four times (the last time costing you two coins), but you don’t have to use hints if you want to slog through it. These coins are readily available if you explore each scene, with at least two if not more coins available for each location you visit, even if you’ve visited the area before during a previous case.
In addition to hint coins there are many opportunities for collecting and customisation through the multiple currencies in the game. There are Picarats, Museum Points, Fashion Farthings and Decor Dockets which are used to unlock extra stuff after the game, unlock reminiscent goodies, buy new clothes, and pimp out your office. Picarats can be used after you complete the main story (around 14 hours depending on how many puzzles you complete) to unlock even more content. The volume of content and collectibles is sure to keep you busy even once you clear your caseload.
Like father like daughter
As the story progresses you do feel like you’re being led through a visual novel filled with puzzles and collectibles because the way forward is so clear. This clarity does make the game seem somewhat easy but the puzzles do add to the difficulty. It is possible to skip many of the puzzles and return to them later, except for the ones that are directly tied to major story sections. This ability to skip puzzles means that the game can be enjoyed almost purely as a visual novel or by gamers of a younger age.
Traversing around London on foot or by bike as a case progresses is quick and easy, creating minimal drag on the gameplay. Once you have collected all of the pieces of evidence in a case the solution to the case is laid out for you. I wish that you had to pick what the solution was from a series of choices, but as you typically know what the answer is by this point I get why it’s not included.
As you complete cases you’ll gradually unlock even more things to do, including mini games, other ways to use your deductive reasoning such as figuring out the perfect meal for recurring characters and more. There are also daily puzzles that you can download, and you get rewarded with various points if you play the game daily (based on the Switch’s clock).
Getting around London is easy
The game features a pretty anime-style opening as well as anime cutscenes throughout with a mixture of text and voice acting. The writing and voice acting are both great, although the voice actors have trouble pronouncing ‘iguana’ which made for some laughs. Most of the game uses 3D character models on a moving background, adding to the liveliness of the characters and scenes, compared to the 2D scenes and/or characters of many visual novels. The music is also great and variable, fitting with the change in tone in a case or environment.
For those who like to use their Switch at home and on the go, you’ll be happy to know that the game is easily playable in both docked and handheld mode. The touchscreen functions well and is really great when using the memo function, though it is possible to use a controller alternatively. The game is good for both longer play sessions and short bursts, but beware of brain fatigue in longer sessions.
The anime cutscenes are all really great
The versatility of playstyles in this game is one of its greatest strengths, making it accessible and appealing to many kinds of gamers with different experience levels. The characters and writing are funny, diverse and fitting with the London setting. If you are a collectibles fiend in particular or partial to a good visual story this is a game for you. The ending to the story was very twisty and a pleasantly unexpected surprise. I really hope the older games in the series will also come to Switch one day as I would happily play more of this series.
Reviewed on Switch // Review code supplied by publisher