Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy Review: A fitting farewell
It certainly is a tough pill to swallow, knowing that Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is quite possibly the last time we’ll experience an adventure with the top-hatted scholar. Nevertheless, Level 5 sends him off on a worthy adventure, fitting for his farewell.
Although it’s technically the third game in the six-part series, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is the final conclusion in the prequel story arc (think of the series releasing like Star Wars -- the originally trilogy first, followed by a prequel trilogy). To that end, I’d first recommend playing The Curious Village (the first Professor Layton game released) or The Last Specter (the first chronologically). While story isn’t necessarily the series’ strong point, being familiar with the story will certainly result in a more enjoyable experience, especially for newcomers who may not be familiar with all of the characters in Layton’s party.
The story of Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy has a National Treasure-like feel to it. It picks up from the conclusion of Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, with Layton and company heading to Froenberg to learn more about Aurora, a girl frozen in ice who also holds the ability to unlock the secrets from the Azran ruins. Seeking to harness the power of the Azran, an evil organization known as Targent become involved and the whole thing eventually turns into a surprisingly action-packed globe-trotting race between team Layton and team Targent. Despite the conflict that arises between the two parties, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy never loses its identity as a puzzle game.
As Layton’s final adventure, Level 5 leaves nothing to be desired. Equipped with the Bostonius airship, Layton and his party tour the world, with destinations ranging from the bustling city of London to the jungle village of Phong Gi to the the tropical town of San Grio -- each filled with puzzles that mirror the environment. And these are just some of the stops along the way.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is fairly consistent with previous entries in the series in that each location is divided into a series of scenes that offer puzzles for you to solve. There are around 160 of them to solve, many of which I found trickier than I’d like to admit. Picarats (or points) are still assigned to each puzzle, with the harder puzzles offering more as a reward for successful completion. Incorrectly guessing the solution to a puzzle lowers the number of Picarats.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is a puzzle game first and foremost. Touring the world on this magnificent adventure is fun, but gameplay ultimately comes down to the creativity and challenge of each puzzle. Unfortunately, there’s little Level 5 can do at this point that we haven’t already seen in past Professor Layton games, at least in terms of originality. It’s filled with your typical math problems, riddles, brain-teasers, and rotating puzzles. Despite the lack of innovation, the challenge is still very much present.
To Level 5’s credit, they do attempt to throw in three types of mini-games for additional gameplay. In Nut Roller, you become a squirrel tasked with maneuvering a walnut through a series of gardens filled with obstacles. In Blooms and Shrooms you tend to a flower garden, placing flowers on a grid in order to breathe life into the trees around you. The last of them is Dress Up, where you take on the role of a fashion consultant and attempt to dress a bunch of fussy customers. Each mini-game feels unique to the game and while I prefered the more orthodox puzzles, these offer some added gameplay time.
There’s also Treasure Hunt mode, a way for the game to make use of the 3DS’ StreePass functionality. In this mode, you challenge other players to finding a variety of items within the game as they play through it. Succeeding will unlock 3D models and dream sequences of characters from within the Professor Layton series.
Other than the mini-games and Treasure Hunt, there’s little Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy offers in terms of new features. It’s essentially the same puzzle-solving game we’ve seen before, and that’s a good thing for fans of the series. Don’t change what isn’t broken and this, the last Layton adventure, is fine farewell to the professor.