Question: What has two thumbs, loves the Layton series, and can’t get enough of this game? Well, as the professor has taught me- for every question, an answer- and that answer is this guy right here. I guess that would make more sense if you could see me point at myself, but you get the idea.
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box is exactly what I wanted out of the sequel; the puzzles, the charming characters, that constantly repeating yet strangely calming music – it’s exactly what I wanted in this summer of nothing worth playing.
If you aren’t familiar with the Professor Layton series, then you should feel bad. It’s fantastic and you should go play the first game, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, right now. This sequel takes place soon after the end of Curious Village, with the Professor and his assistant Luke going to visit his mentor, who has written Layton about a mysterious Diabolical Box. The legend behind the box is that whoever opens the box winds up dead. When they reach Layton’s mentor’s home- they find him dead and the box has disappeared.
The Gameplay of the Layton games is all the same: look for puzzles and riddles and then solve them. Tapping random objects and characters in the game yield puzzles and as you progress, they get harder and harder. One difference between this game and the last is the difficulty factor. In the first game, there was a bit of a buffer at the beginning of the game allowing for players to get used to the puzzles. It seems with this game though that the developers decided that people who were going to play this game have already played the last game, so they seem to have shortened the buffer to only the first couple puzzles.
I loved the puzzles in this game though, as frustrating as they are. I spent hours on just a small number of the game’s riddles, muddling through them only to discover that the answers were simple. It felt truly rewarding being able to say, “Yeah, I solved them all.”
Diabolical Box looks just as good as it plays. The character designs are just as beautiful as the first game. These simplistic designs give a deeper feel to the characters. The cast is designed well enough that their personalities seep out of them without the need to talk. It’s simply lovely.
The only real downside I have with the game is the music. It’s repetitive. The same song plays throughout the entire game. Now, I found it calming and helpful with some of the more frustrating puzzles, but when I wasn’t wrapping my head around a riddle, I had the sound off. The voice work, however, is quite good and is definitely a highlighting feature. The few animated scenes in the game are top of the line in terms of DS games.
Even though the puzzles can be challenging, the game’s addictive nature and sense of satisfaction is rarely seen at this level on the DS. Topped off with stellar presentation values, Diabolical Box is a great follow up to last year’s original hit.