Solve this puzzle: Does twice the Luke equal twice the fun?
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, the third and final game of the first Professor Layton trilogy, is finally out in North America nearly two years after the game's Japanese release. This newest title is much like the first two iterations, so if you've played one of the other games, then you should know what to expect.
For the uninitiated, the Professor Layton series is all about point-and-click exploration, strong storytelling, and most of all, puzzles. The puzzles drive the story, and are usually part of some weird plot conceit that explains why all of the characters throw puzzles at you every time you talk to them.
This time around, Professor Layton and his young apprentice Luke witness a peculiar time travel demonstration that winds up in tragedy. Shortly after, they receive a letter from a future version of Luke requesting that they meet with him in the future. From there, the story takes off as you navigate between the present and future versions of London, deal with a crime family, dodge gunfire, and solve more than 160 puzzles.
The story's presentation is top-notch, with tons of beautifully animated cut scenes with voice acting. Unwound Future wraps up a lot of the ongoing plot threads from the previous games, such as why series villain Don Paolo hates Layton, and why Layton always wears that damn hat. It's a very fitting conclusion to the first trilogy of the series, and will take you more than 10 hours to complete.
The gameplay is, as usual, excellent. The puzzles range from easy, to clever, to devilishly difficult. In addition to the hint system from past games, there is also an additional Super Hint, which requires two of the findable hint coins and pretty much flat out gives you the answer. It's a good addition, especially if you just get stuck on a puzzle.
The three included mini-games are once again different, and are decidedly more interesting than the last two iteration's mini-games as they focus more on figuring out a different style of puzzle, and less on randomly talking to people or taking pictures. The first one you come across is the picture book. You collect different stickers that you can then fit into a story Mad Lib-style. Once you correctly complete a book you unlock the next one, with three in total. After the first one, which is quite easy, it soon becomes more difficult to figure out where to put each sticker as you need to pay attention to the context in which it is used.
The second mini-game involves directing the Laytonmobile (yes, there is a Laytonmobile) around different obstacles to collect items and reach a goal. It is reminiscent of the hamster mini-game from Diabolical Box, and it features 10 different stages of varying difficulty. The third mini-game involves leading Luke's new pet parrot (which you can name) through different single-screen puzzle-platform levels, drawing ropes to direct the bouncing bird to different areas. All of these are very cool and offer a nice diversion from the puzzling grind of the main game.
Unwound Future will have a series of downloadable puzzles coming out each week, and there is also connectivity with other entries of the game to unlock more puzzles. In total, there will be about 200 puzzles in the game when all of the bonus content comes out.
At this point, the Professor Layton games are a known commodity, but that commodity is a finely crafted one. If you enjoyed the first two games, then the third game will be welcome even if it is more of the same. There is always the off chance that this game isn't for you, or that you've become sick of solving a seemingly endless supply of puzzles from everyone you talk to. In that case, you might want to skip it and maybe come back to it when you're ready for hardcore puzzle action with an interesting story and stellar presentation, because Professor Layton and the Unwound Future delivers that in spades.