Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy – Deluxe Edition Review – Switch

Back when the Layton series first released back in 2007, it went on to dominate and define the puzzle genre. The DS was a hit among casual gaming audiences and they welcomed a title that didn’t rely too heavily on twitch gaming reactions and more on cognitive ability. Professor Layton along with similar software titles like Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training were unique best sellers that highlighted the capabilities of the DS at the time.

Now two trilogies and many titles later, can the newest outing on Nintendo’s hybrid console stave off stagnation and reassert it’s puzzle gaming credentials and be a must own title in 2019?

New protagonist Katrielle leads this soft reboot to the classic puzzler franchise.

Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy – Deluxe Edition is a freshened up re-release of the 3DS game ” Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy” which was a port of an iOS game of the same name and serves as an opportunity for the Layton franchise to hit the reset button. Whereas Hershel Layton and Luke the previous protagonists from the series had many adventures together, by the time you get to game seven it can be somewhat intimidating to newcomers who may not have any knowledge or attachment to the universe.

Which is why switching the focus to Katrielle and a new cast of characters works so well. In Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy – Deluxe Edition, you play as Katrielle Layton, the daughter of Professor Layton who inherits his Layton Detective Agency. Katrielle is a nice breath of fresh air as she’s fun, confident and eager to prove herself and return the Layton Detective Agency back to its former glory. Along with Kat is Ernest her companion character who is hopelessly in love with her and a talking dog with amnesia called Sherl O.C. Holmes. As you could probably tell, the franchises famous pun filled script is back and in full force here. In general, the entire localization from the dialogue of the game to the interactions between the central cast is trademark Level-5 quality with endearing characters taking front and center.

The dialogue between the characters is one of the best things in the game

Unlike the previous entries in the franchise, the stakes are quite considerably lower. Whereas previous games would have you solving puzzles with the fate of the world on the line, Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy instead goes for a more episodic approach which might be evidence of it’s Mobile Phone roots. Each episode is very self contained and the mysteries are generally smaller things such as “who stole the hour hand of Big Ben?” Or finding out who cut the final scene of a blockbuster movie. These cases are quite simple and don’t rely on you having to remember much and even then the game helpfully has many means available for a refresher or reminder of the events of your current case. Along with this, there isn’t much of an overarching narrative either. Despite the smaller scale of the narrative as a whole, I enjoyed it and found the stories and characterisation charming enough for it to keep me playing.

As far as the real meat of the game goes, the puzzles are back and operate in a similar way to older titles in the series. As you navigate through the world with the games point and click interface, you’ll come across puzzles randomly in the environment and people to talk to who’ll give you puzzles to solve before allowing you to progress the story further. The puzzles come in a wide variety from block puzzles to riddles and even ones that challenge your ability to visualise objects in a 3D space.

The classic style point and click interface returns with beautiful environments.

I found some of the puzzles to be quite simple, but that’s not to say there aren’t some of the classic Layton tier stumpers. Thankfully, Hint Coins are back and you can spend them to receive hints for puzzles and can nudge you in the right direction or you can spend enough to more or less be given the solution directly. In my experience playing, I found some puzzles directions to not really be clear enough to get across what it was asking from me to solve it. This is where I found myself spending my hint coins mostly just for more clarification of how the puzzle actually operated.

A delightful returning staple of the Layton Series is the daily puzzles selection that can be accessed from the main menu. These puzzles are a welcome addition because they mean that even when you finish the main game there will always be new content available for you to come back to.

And ‘comeback’ seems like what the team at Level-5 wanted you to do, as Daily Puzzles aren’t the only thing in the game that reward you for playing the game in shorter bursts across multiple days. Fashion Farthings are an in game currency that you get every real life day that allows you to buy outfits for Katrielle and allow you to customise her look to your liking. There’s quite a lot of variety and I personally liked many of them from cute outfits to callbacks to characters of old like Professor Layton and Luke. Though the Farthings can be found in a limited quantity while navigating the point and click sections of the game, the bulk of them you’ll receive each day you play the game. This is somewhat reminiscent of a mobile game log in bonus and maybe shows the games roots as a mobile game.

Being able to dress Katrielle and change the Feng Shui of the Layton offices was a nice distraction from the main game.

Another cool addition is the mini games with one giving you the opportunity to hand craft meals for various characters that you encounter from the games story. Using a brief description of what a customer wants and the opportunity to interview other side characters as to what the customer likes, you use this to decide what meals to prepare. This is a puzzle within itself and although I like it in theory, the fact that not all the food is available at the start means that often you’re heading into a puzzle without the opportunity to solve it. Although throughout the course of the game you expand your meal options, it just means that this game mode is one to be returned to later in the game when you have the food unlocked rather than tackled as soon as the option becomes available. This is true for the other mini games also.

A huge benefit of Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy – Deluxe Edition being on a console like the Switch is the ability to play in both handheld and docked mode. When in Handheld you can play using the touch screen and I think fans of the classic titles will feel right at home with this and in docked play you can use motion with the Joy Cons or Pro Controller. I spent most of my play time playing with the Pro Controller on my TV and I gotta say the visuals look great. The crisp picture book artstyle translates really well on the big screen and the 3D models used work really well in modernising the franchise for 2019. The cut scene animations done by A-1 Pictures are a pleasure to watch and the voice acting on the most part is great save for a few questionable line deliveries. A unique experience of having the game in the living room is the experience to play the puzzles of Professor Layton socially. Previously with the series locked to more personal devices like the DS, 3DS and phones, puzzles were almost encouraged to be solved alone and so the game wasn’t able to be enjoyed multiplayer. But in a way, Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy – Deluxe Edition being on Switch means that it can be enjoyed on a large screen and I personally appreciated being able to share particularly tricky puzzles with whoever was in the household at the time.

In conclusion, Daily Puzzles, the Farthings and the episodic nature of the games story are signs that this Layton game is meant to be played at a gradual and more steadier pace than the ones before and I think in that context this game comes together really well. And though fans of the series may be disappointed by losing the good old Professor and this games more episodic and altogether lighter approach on its plot, at it’s heart it’s still the Layton puzzler everyone knows and loves. Katrielle is a breath of fresh air and the charm of the story is great for new fans looking to dive in and enough for returning fans to enjoy and I’m excited to see what’s next for this puzzle solving heroine.

Thank you for Nintendo UK for kindly supplying the code to review this game.
Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is out now on the Nintendo Switch eShop for £34.99

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