Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy, or Layton’s Mystery Journey for short, made its debut on mobile recently with a pretty hefty £15 price tag, and while it contains all of the ingredients to make it a great Professor Layton title, is it worth the steep asking price?
With the release of Layton’s Mystery Journey, Level-5 decided to opt for a mobile-first experience releasing the game on iOS and Android ahead of a more familiar Nintendo 3DS release later down the line. With this comes a much steeper asking price than many of us are used to for a mobile game, but what’s on offer here is more than just a crappy mobile port of an old game.
This game has been developed from the ground up with mobile in mind and I can honestly say that it’s a joyous experience. The game suits mobile incredibly well and there’s way more to Layton’s Mystery Journey than just a straight-up puzzle game. It seems Level-5 are aware of the misconceptions the term “mobile game” receive and have tried to cram as much into the game as possible to make for an enjoyable experience whether you’re spending hours to solve a case, or have a few minutes to spare.
At its core, this game is a Professor Layton game. With Layton’s daughter, Katrielle at the helm, we’re offered a new cast of characters to help solve puzzles. There’s the love-struck assistant, Ernest Greeves, and Katrielle’s first client, a talking dog which they both call Sherl. Though more on that later. Unlike previous games, Layton’s Mystery Journey is split into 12 separate cases, rather than one continuous overarching story split into chapters.
With giving each case a distinct start and finish, you’d be forgiven in thinking that this would break the immersion, but it actually works well for the game’s format. These breaks allow you to choose a decent stopping time and make the game suitable for fairly short-ish bursts, depending on the case.
The main chunk of the game is a familiar affair too. With the case at hand, you’re required to interview suspects and witnesses as well as interacting with other characters who throw puzzles at you. The hint-coin feature returns too allowing you to meticulously scrape each scenario for that hidden hint coin or collectable. Depending on how long you spend finding every little puzzle, coin, and secret, each case can take you anywhere from one, to a couple of hours to complete.
Puzzles also vary from ridiculously complex, to so simple you almost trick yourself into thinking it’s something more complicated. Being able to have you outwit yourself is something I’ve always applauded with the Professor Layton series. There’s one puzzle in particular which had me scratching my head for ages, and this was right at the beginning of the game:
This puzzle had us doubting ourselves. Clearly the answer is one, right? Just turn the key to change the time, simple! Oh wait, that’s wrong? How?! Turns out the answer is zero. Because time naturally progresses so the clock would show midnight at midnight, without having to touch the clock at all.
It seems simple once you know how, but there are many puzzles like this that seem too simple to actually be the right solution. It’s brilliant.
Also each case has its own unique charm and although the case can easily be solved before you’ve actually managed to get to the point of a solution, they’re incredibly interesting and have you wanting to get to the end of each one to see if your theory is indeed correct. That being said, some of the dialogue is often a little drawn-out, especially when you just want to progress the story, rather than hearing about how much Kat wants some popcorn.
Now, despite its mobile release, Layton’s Mystery Journey is a fully-fledged Layton title, there’s no doubt about that. But Level-5 have gone above and beyond with the game to ensure that players get their money’s worth. In addition to the main story and all of its puzzles, the game has several other little off-shoots from the ability to dress up Katrielle in a variety of different outfits, to mini games like cooking and accessorising London’s residents.
The game also offers some really stunning animated cutscenes throughout the game, however they’re ridiculously underutilised and more often than not seem a little redundant, especially when you have to rotate your phone each time one of them is played. On the subject of dialogue, the game often feels like it can’t make up its mind whether to have spoken lines or just walls of text, as it often switches between all three near the end of a case, which is definitely a welcome change, but I’d rather the game made up its mind.
For £15, what you’re getting here is a pretty affordable Professor Layton game, considering most of the major Layton games on Nintendo 3DS have retailed for around £30. Not only does it include the same great gameplay we all know and love, it also includes plenty more to keep you occupied within Layton’s London.
Layton’s Mystery Journey is more than just a mobile game, it’s a fully-fledged video game on your phone. Yes, there are microtransactions if you really want to dress Katrielle up like Professor Layton or Luke (though for £1.99 each outfit comes with a puzzle). But for £15 you get a pretty substantial game that I’d definitely recommend if you’re a fan of the Professor Layton series.