The Professor Layton franchise is a series of puzzle-adventure games following Professor Layton and Luke Triton. The series has sold over 18 million copies worldwide and is one of the most recognizable video game brands. Today, we will break down each game, examine their plotlines, and see how they have evolved over time.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village (2007)
As the first game in the series, Professor Layton and the Curious Village introduces players to the iconic duo of Hershel Layton and Luke Triton. The gameplay revolves around puzzles that are completed throughout the duo’s adventures. Players will solve brain teasers and sliding puzzles while using logic to figure out solutions.
The plot follows the Professor and Luke as they arrive in St. Mystere to find the Golden Apple. The Golden Apple is a mystery created by Baron Reinhold, in which whoever can solve it will be rewarded with his entire fortune. As they begin their quest, a series of events begin to unfold as they meet with the Baron’s wife, Lady Dahila. Murders, Kidnappings, and a wild goose chase break out all over the town.
The game was well-received at release, with some criticism of low replay value and having the plot’s mystery being solved for the player. However, it was awarded numerous industry awards, including Best Handheld Game and Best DS Game of 2008. It went on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide.
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (2007)
Releasing just nine months after its predecessor, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box gives players a brand new adventure. Following the first game’s success, fans had high expectations for the sequel. The game features over 130 puzzles players must solve but doesn’t innovate much from the original. As it plays essentially the same, the biggest drawing point is the new storylines for players to follow.
Having heard of a mysterious box that is said to kill anyone who opens it, the Professor and Luke travel to their mentor’s house, who claims to possess the box. Upon arrival, Dr. Schrader is lying on the floor with the Elysian Box missing. The duo discover a train ticket on the Molentary Express and follow the train to its destination. Players will have to solve puzzles along the way to unravel the mystery.
The game had the same problem as its predecessor; fans noted it had low replay value but loved the characters, story, and cutscene animation. It sold over 2 million copies in its lifetime.
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (2008)
Unwound Future is the final game in the series’ first trilogy, the Original Trilogy. Players once again follow the Professor and Luke as they solve puzzles on their adventure. After a failed time machine demonstration, the prime minister and scientists began to disappear over the course of a week. Layton and Luke get a message from a source claiming to be Luke from the future. The duo is transported ten years into the future and has to help future Luke put an end to a new crime family led by Layton.
The game was released to critical acclaim for its story, puzzles, characters, and location. Many fans consider the game to be the best game in the franchise, and it sold almost 3 million copies in its first year.
Professor Layton and the Last Specter (2009)
The Last Specter is the first game in the prequel trilogy, taking place three years before the events of The Curious Village. The story follows Layton and his assistant, Emmy Altava, who travel to Misthallery after claims of a Specter attack. Additionally, the story also shows how Luke became the Professor’s apprentice, as the two meet him and his dad upon arriving.
While the story fell flat for many fans, the puzzles were a strong suit for the game. This is due to Akira Tago, a best-selling puzzle book author, who created each puzzle. With over 170 puzzles to solve, it was one of the most expansive games in the series. It also features multiple minigames such as Toy Train, Puppet Theater, Mouse Alltey, and Fish.
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (2011)
Miracle Mask returns to the trio, and they take on a mysterious masked man who uses dark magic to torment the citizens of Monte d’Or. The artifact covering the man’s face is said to be from the Azran Civilization, setting up the sequel Azran Legacy. The game features over 500 puzzles for players to solve. It also utilized the 3DS’s more powerful system to create the characters and environment in 3D. It received positive reviews at launch and was the twenty-sixth best-selling game of the year.
Layton Brothers: Mystery Room (2012)
Mystery Room is a mobile exclusive spin-off title following rookie investigator Lucky Baker. Lucy and her partner, Detective Alfendi Layton, work for the Serious Crime Division, solving cases presumed to be unsolvable. Their unit is known as the Mystery Room and follows the duo as they interrogate and look for clues. Players will get limited time to examine the crime scenes or rooms and then switch over to interrogations.
The gameplay is reminiscent of Ace Attorney and offers a fun experience to players with interesting story elements. It received positive reviews, but it’s important to note that as a spin-off, the game does not follow the standard Layton formula.
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2012)
The series’s first and only crossover game follows the protagonists, Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright. The plot revolves around Espella Cantabella, who seeks out the help of Professor Layton. Events begin to unfold as witches attack her, Layton, and Luke. Eventually, Espella gets arrested for assault and theft and is defended by a Los Angeles attorney, Phoenix Wright. The game combines puzzles from Professor Layton’s games and defense trials from Ace Attorney.
The game received positive reviews at launch and was nominated for multiple industry awards. Fans enjoyed how the game took the best parts of the respected franchises but criticized adding new and “uninteresting” characters.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (2013)
The Azran Legacy was meant to be the last game, with Professor Layton as the main protagonist. The game concludes the prequel trilogy with an around-the-world adventure featuring Layton, Luke, and Emmy. The trio begins searching for the Azran Eggs, said to unlock the mysterious Azran Legacy, an elder race. The game features over 500 puzzles worldwide, including Russia, Africa, the United States, and more. The game was met with positive reviews and a great way to conclude the prequel trilogy.
Layton’s Mystery Journey (2017)
The latest entry in the Layton series follows the Professor’s daughter, Katrielle Layton. However, the game does not have a narrative like previous titles, instead having multiple small cases to solve. This caused fans to criticize the game for its lacking story, uninteresting plotline, and overall disconnected gameplay. It is considered one of the worst games in the series and is often left out of discussions.
Professor Layton and The New World of Steam (TBA)
While not much is known right now, Professor Layton and The New World of Steam will feature the return of the Professor as the main protagonist. It will take place one year after the events of The Unwound Future in Steam Bison, America. The new entry to the series is highly anticipated by fans who waited years for a new title to be announced. All in all, fans hope for a return to the series formula with a strong narrative and engaging puzzles.