Professor Layton and the Curious Village was a game I purchased knowing little about and it ended up being one of my favourite games of last year. At the time there was no indication that we would be getting any of the Japanese sequels ported over here. This knowledge made getting up in the morning a constant chore. I mean with no Layton sequel, what was the point? Then earlier this year we finally got word we would be receiving the sequel, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, on August 25th. The world became just a little brighter that day. Now the game is out, I’ve played the hell out of it and am ready to pass my thoughts along to you, our loyal reader (whichever of the 4 of you is reading this).
Diabolical Box follows the same basic style of the first game. You of course follow Professor Layton and his sidekick/friend/inappropriate love interest Luke as they tackle another mystery. This one involves a mysterious object known as the Elysian Box, would supposedly kills anyone who dares open it. It’s an intriguing set-up and as usual, the story is well-written, well-acted and interesting. It’s also just a touch darker than the first game I would say.
The graphics still look great, especially those animated cut-scenes. It’s some of the best looking stuff on the DS and makes me really wish they would bring over some of those Layton animes I’ve heard about. I’m not much for anime but I tell you, I would absolutely watch those because they do a great job here.
The gameplay has not changed at all since the previous game, nor should it. I definitely don’t feel I’m alone in thinking that for this sequel, all you really want is a new story, and a ton of new puzzles, which is exactly what you get here. They don’t do anything to drastically alter the experience and I for one could care less. It’s still a ton of fun to play and that’s what matters.
The puzzles themselves felt a tad easier this time around, or maybe I got a whole lot smarter over the past year and a half. Some feel like variations on puzzles we’ve seen in the previous game, but there is still a ton of variety to be had. One minute you’re doing a word problem involving apples, the next you’re sliding around a puzzle to form the image of the next plot point. Some of the puzzles do tend to blend together. Maybe it’s just me but I seemed to solve more than a few “who is lying and who is telling the truth” type puzzles but for the most part the puzzles are unique and will give your brain a work-out.
This time around the puzzles seem to be integrated into the story a lot better. There are still plenty of those random “Hey I’m the chef on the train. I don’t have any info but here’s a puzzle cuz why not” moments but many of the puzzles do serve the plot and help progress it forward.
An aspect of the series I had forgotten about until I started playing through this one is just how damn satisfying it can be to play. You can’t help but feel good once you finally crack a puzzle that has stumped you for the last half hour. Even better is when you solve what should be a fairly difficult puzzle in just a matter of minutes. This game can be quite the confidence booster.
It’s fitting that I would follow Cursed Mountain (my longest review) with this one, possibly my shortest review to date. But really, there is not a whole lot more to say about this game. If you loved the first one, there is no reason you won’t love this one. It has a great story featuring great characters (both new and returning) and over 150 new puzzles. This one should last you a long time. Hopefully it doesn’t take as long for them to announce the third as I personally can’t wait to play through the next installment. And if they don’t plan on making a third game then get ready for a lot of updates to this site because I would never bother leaving the house again.