majormitch's Professor Layton and the Curious Village (Nintendo DS) review

Critical thinking is the key to success

There is something to be said for a healthy dose of charm in a game. When a game is genuinely charming, it leaves you with a distinctly warm, fuzzy feeling that's hard to beat. Professor Layton and the Curious Village is one game that is superbly charming by any measure. Its clever brain teasers don't hurt proceedings either, and the overall package is a strong one that will have you constantly coming back for more.

It's not just one thing that lends Professor Layton its charm either. The beautiful, French inspired artwork is a strong start, as the town of St. Mystere is pleasing to the eyes. The music is also chill, and while slightly repetitive, it never grates on your nerves. The story is paced perfectly, and the heartwarming ending is one that will have you caring for the characters and their plights- which is a rarity for me nowadays. Perhaps most charming is Layton himself- this Brit is a true gentleman. He's always willing to help, very patient, and he always has all the answers. He's polite almost to a fault, yet always seems to know when someone's trying to play him for a fool.

Which, of course, he isn't. In fact, the good professor is quite easily a genius, and knows pretty much everything. There is no obstacle that stumps Layton, and he generally knows the answers well before anyone else. This is especially handy, because the inhabitants of St. Mystere love having you solve all sorts of brain teasers. Ranging from 2D block shifting puzzles to river crossing word problems, all 120 of the main puzzles found in Professor Layton come in astonishing variety. It's this variety that really makes the game so fun to play, and makes you want to constantly push forward to see what's next. It has that "just one more" vibe that's all too addicting, and the fact that the puzzles come at a snappy pace only helps matters. The "point and click" style adventuring does a great job at breaking up the puzzles, and also advances the plot wonderfully. The whole game has such a perfect flow to it, making it a game that's fun to play either in short bursts, or for hours on end.

If Professor Layton has any fault at all, it's that some puzzles can be a little frustrating. These are mostly challenges that require you to think outside-the-box in strange ways- brain teasers that will cause you to slap your forehead and exclaim "Oh, duh!" upon completion. But this is a minor issue, and probably won't even phase a lot of players. Otherwise, the entire package is virtually seamless. The addictive logic driven puzzles are wrapped nicely in a narrative that's bursting with charm, making Professor Layton and the Curious Village a game that is simply brilliant.
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.

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