The Professor Layton series has finally made the leap from being a handheld experience to a full-blown home console title. This milestone is somewhat soured, however, as the first console game is a port of the 3DS/mobile title Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy. Not only would most fans already have played the game but it’s also considered one of the weaker titles in the series, largely due to its overarching plot not being as interesting as other entries and its puzzles being easier. That’s not to say it’s a bad game though, as there is certainly a lot to like about the Switch version if you haven’t picked this one up yet.
Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy follows the exploits of Katrielle Layton, Professor Hershel Layton’s daughter. The famed professor has disappeared, so Katrielle decides to open her own detective agency in London. Katrielle is joined by her loving, friend-zoned assistant Ernest and a talking dog named Sherl who only they can understand. Rather than tackling a world-ending threat like other Layton games, this entry focuses mostly on smaller standalone cases. One case sees the trio investigating the disappearance of a hand on the London Tower clock face, another sees them investigating a suspected murder on the Thames River, and one sees them track down a millionaire’s lost cat. The plot does intertwine a bit towards the end of the game, but it feels rushed and comes out of nowhere rather than be slowly built throughout the adventure.
The individual cases are entertaining though, thanks largely to the brilliant writing and a cast of colourful and, at times, wacky characters. I caught myself laughing at some of the cute interactions, such as Earnest’s repeated attempts to woo Katrielle only for the latter to be completely oblivious. Meanwhile, Sherl laughs and feels sorry for the poor boy each and every time. The cases do, unfortunately, feel like they’re on autopilot as players are hand-fed which character to talk to or where to go next to progress the story.
Those familiar with the Layton series will know the gameplay is part point-and-click adventure and part puzzle-solving. Throughout the game, players will be taken to various environments which they must search to reveal objects and interact with characters. Your cursor will turn into a magnifying glass and the controller will vibrate if you have located something of interest, such as commentary from the detective trio about the object, a puzzle to solve or a hint coin. It’s easy to pan your cursor and just click on random spots, though the game is sometimes very particular about you hitting just the right spot to reveal the goodies within. After solving a case, you’re told if there are any puzzles or coins you missed and you can go back and collect them. Some puzzles are mandatory to progress the story, but a fair amount are optional.
The puzzles in Layton’s Mystery Journey are on the easier end of the scale when compared to other entries in the series. But there are a few head-scratchers, namely riddles where you must give a worded answer or twist shapes around to form a particular pattern. The first puzzle in the game, for example, asks you to create the letter K by placing three triangular shapes into certain spots. Others include number logic puzzles, puzzles where you have to guide an avatar on a grid in a specific way, a Sudoku-like game where you use fruit instead of numbers and puzzles where you have to turn on the correct valves/buttons, etc. There are a couple of repeat puzzles where the difficulty is increased, but as a whole, the library is varied and doesn’t get dull. If you have difficulty solving any of the puzzles you can use a hint coin to reveal a clue – our advice is to try your hardest first before relying on the hints, just in case you need them later in the game. You can also access an in-game memo page that overlays on top of puzzles where you can write notes to help you solve them.
There are several changes for Layton’s Mystery Journey on Nintendo Switch. Firstly, the game supports multiple control schemes including touchscreen for handheld mode, motion controls, and a regular controller. The touchscreen controls work exactly how they did in the 3DS and mobile adaptations and are a natural fit for the game. The motion controls allow players to utilise one of the Joycon controllers as a pointer. The regular controller method has you guide a cursor using the control stick. All three control methods work well, though touch screen controls are the preferred option purely because it’s quick to make selections and is the best way to write notes in the in-game memo. Using a regular controller while hooked up to the TV is still comfortable, and you can just as easily use a physical notepad when trying to solve some of the tougher puzzles. What’s important to note is that developer Level-5 has now proven the series can work in a console environment, so perhaps it won’t be too long before we see proper new installment for the Nintendo Switch.
Further content in the Nintendo Switch version includes HD remastered graphics, more costumes for Katrille and Sherl, and 40 new puzzles. Is this enough to entice fans back a second time? Probably not, but it’s reassuring that Level-5 has gone the extra mile to make this more than just a port of the original version.
Visually, the remastered HD graphics look great whether you are playing on the TV or in handheld mode. The game is colourful, bright and captures the spirit of some of the bizarre characters you will encounter. The voiceovers, although sometimes limited due to the game being primarily text-based, feature a distinctive array of quality British accents which reflects the game’s setting. The music is appropriate to the puzzle being solved or the scenes that are playing out, but it is otherwise unmemorable.
While Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy – Deluxe Edition may not entice fans to return for a second play-through, it’s the best version available for anyone who hasn’t played it yet or is simply interested in the franchise. The HD graphics look fantastic, the three control options are perfect for both handheld and TV mode and the game is genuinely fun to play. It does feel like players are hand-fed through the story, the puzzles aren’t quite as challenging as other entries and the overarching plot does fall a bit flat. Regardless, this is still a quality game on Nintendo Switch.
- Welcome improvements and additional content over the original - Optimised control schemes for TV and handheld modes - Fun characters
- Not enough to entice fans back for a second play-through - Overarching plot feels rushed and abrupt - Not quite up to par with other games in the series