In this seventh main instalment of the Professor Layton series, you play as Katrielle Layton who has decided to follow in her father's footsteps and open up her very own detective agency in the heart of London. Her sleuthing isn't a lone endeavour, however, as she is accompanied by a mouthy canine known as Sherl and her bashful and overly helpful assistant Ernest, who is desperate to earn her affection. Living largely in her famed father's shadow, the main story sees the young detective earn her chops assisting local residents and Scotland Yard in cracking a dozen self-contained cases.
Having a different Layton occupying the spotlight was a refreshing twist but we found the plot to be overly predictable during investigations. Long before Katerielle would gather her subjects and proudly exclaim her findings we would have already arrived at a conclusion, ridding any suspense from the final big reveal. What saves the plot from its predictable writing is the characters themselves, with each having their own individual quirks and shortcomings. We loved DC Booker, for example, a detective who always had to comically flick through the pages of his notebook to answer even the simplest question with confidence.
Layton's Mystery Journey doubles as a point-and-click adventure and an interactive puzzler as you have complex puzzles to crack as well as clues to interact with when out doing fieldwork. Puzzles, for the most part, were a real challenge for our problem-solving skills and offered plenty of variety, leaving us in the dark about how we may be challenged next. One that stood out to us in particular played out like an RPG and we had to work out which monsters each of our three heroes should slay so they could gather enough XP to reach level five. That said, there are a few stinkers in there that only required common sense, like one where we had to put together a few scraps of shredded paper in order like a jigsaw.
There's a great sense of replayability here as puzzles can be revisited via Kat's bag and there are even new puzzles introduced on a daily basis that players can download. These daily puzzles are completely independent of the main story and are the best reason to keep returning as the ones from the story lose much of their fun once you know the solution. On top of this, you can also return to older cases later in the story and this introduces puzzles that you wouldn't have faced during your initial playthrough. That said, while it can be rewarding, it does mean that you will be wading through all of the same dialogue as before.
The point-and-click part of the game is, however, lacking and doesn't demand a huge amount of input from the player. In this mode, you have a pointer in the shape of a magnifying glass and have to interact with a few key objects and people of interest to progress the investigation. The flaw with this is that it's very linear and there is no room for players to decide what to do next in the investigation; it's all up to Katrielle to solve the case. That said, players are rewarded for their vigilance in these moments as hovering your magnifying glass over specific areas can uncover collectibles, hint coins, and even more optional puzzles.
Making its way onto the Switch this Deluxe Edition comes with 40 new puzzles as well as other additional content (such as clothing items that were available as a separate expense). The port takes advantage of the Switch's bolstered screen-size too as texts and puzzles are now displayed simultaneously on the same screen rather than split across two (on 3DS). There's also motion control support where you can waggle the Joy-Cons to move your magnifying glass across the screen. These additions certainly make the package that much more enticing but we would hardly say that they are substantial enough to warrant a revisit for early adopters.
The Switch version has also been upscaled to HD, making for a noticeable difference on the eyes when compared alongside its older counterparts. That said, we still had a few qualms with the presentation, as facial animations looked awkward and the same section of music would often loop repeatedly when we were investigating. There were also inconsistencies with dialogue as some interactions were complete with voice acting but this wasn't the case for the majority of the game. The occasional animated cutscenes are gorgeous though and were always a treat when they popped up, we just wished there was more of them.
Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy may not be a classic for the Switch but it's still the finest incarnation of this particular adventure to date, and it comes with an improved presentation and an additional 40 puzzles. We found the puzzles to be creative and a real test of our wits and the story was charming for the most part despite feeling a little too predictable at times. Sadly though, the predictability killed any suspense from cases and we found investigations to feel a little too linear as they didn't demand enough input from the player. Still, It's a worthwhile adventure, but not one that stands tall with the finest the series has to offer.
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