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    jp's Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS)

    [September 14, 2009 01:47:48 PM]
    Long overdue, but hey...

    As much as I enjoyed the game (which I did), I can't help but be surprised by the story and how bizarre it is. This may come as a spoiler to some...

    I had figured out pretty early in the game that most of the town's inhabitants were automatons. There were plenty of clues leading to that conclusion and it also made sense from the point of view of the game. After all, why would these people sit around doing (mostly) nothing all day except for caring about puzzles. What I wasn't comfortable with was the thought that creating an entire village of automata as a means of protecting and raising a young girl should be seen as ok. I can understand a parent being overprotective of their child, but this was simply too bizarre a though. Poor child! And why don't the (non-automata) characters seem shocked by this?
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    [June 17, 2009 04:31:32 PM]
    Final stats:

    Puzzles solved: 121
    Puzzles found: 125

    Total score: 4364 picarats

    Hint coins: 93

    Time played: 12hrs and 56 minutes


    Not bad, eh?

    I think this is the only game I know of that has an option to enter a secret password found in the sequel of the game! (which should unlock something or other...) Ah, it turns out the picarats are used to unlock things in the bonus menu. I have everything unlocked, so I guess I did fine. I have no idea what was unlocked and when.
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    [June 16, 2009 10:13:28 PM]
    Woohoo! I'm done!

    I need to look at the DS to get a sense of the exact game stats (ie, how many puzzles, how long and all that). Gameplay time was around 12 hours which is fine. Maybe a wee bit too long for me, especially since the end of the game is mostly reading with very few puzzles. As a note for later, I have to write something about the storyline which was, as the games' title implies, very curious indeed. Especially from an ethical perspective.

    I was trying to pigeon-hole this game and decide what other games I should compare it with. On the one hand, it's an adventure game in the point-and-click tradition. However, the puzzles are rarely (if ever?) integrated with the story of the game. Most adventure games try to avoid this because otherwise the puzzles come across as clumsy barriers rather than integral to gameplay. It's curious then how well the puzzles in Layton work. In that sense, it seems closer to the Brain Age-style games. Essentially, they are puzzles that aren't disguised as anything but. So, why does it work so well? Hmmm.. I guess it's because of an elegant solution to the eternal problem that puzzle games have: how do you avoid players getting stuck (and quitting) while still maintaining an an experience that is challenging (ie, not making it too easy). So, what elements does Layton have to help with this?

    (a) You don't have to solve all the puzzles to get to the end. I think there are some that are "required" (implicitly) because they unlock certain areas or trigger certain events, but in all you can breeze through to a certain degree. There are certain points where you are required to have solved at least X number of puzzles.

    (b) An elegant hint system. Each puzzle has three levels of hints. They vary from puzzle to puzzle, but in most cases once you've seen the third hint it is pretty clear how to solve the puzzle. You don't have free access to hints though! Each hint costs one hint coin, and you have to find them by clicking on secret areas in each location. This encourages clicking around, which also helps you find hidden puzzles. Each location has about 3 coins, and I think that some areas are re-set after certain events (with new coins in new locations)

    (c) The missed puzzle hut is a location where you can go to try to solve puzzles that you might have missed and that are no longer available due to certain story events or things like that. For example, maybe a certain character had a puzzle, and then you did something so that character is no longer there. His puzzle would now appear in the hut so you can try to solve it. This design element reduces the "stress" of trying to do everything/find everything. You feel that you can move on and that it's alright.

    (d) The gizmo dog is a mechanical dog that, now and then, appears in a scene and points to hidden coins or puzzles. You don't get the dog until you've solved a certain number of puzzles (particular ones that reward you with dog parts, once you have them all, the dog comes in to play). The dog is really helpful in finding additional coins if you're low or something like that.

    (e) There is a master list of puzzles that you can consult to see what you're missing. The list also tells you where the puzzle is located so you can go back there to try it again.

    (f) Solving a puzzle correctly awards you a number of "pictorats" (points). If you fail, the award total is reduced (little incentive to guess). I have no idea what the pictorats are for...but I did want to earn as many as possible.

    All of the above elements, taken together, make it "easy" to avoid getting stuck, while at the same time encouraging you not to take the easy way out. There is a cost associated with failing to solve a puzzle as well as getting a clue. The cost, however, isn't prohibitive enough that you'll avoid spending your hint coins. It's a delicate balance that's managed very well.
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    [June 12, 2009 04:03:40 PM]
    I've been trying to think of a way to describe this game using one word. Just for fun. It's kind of tricky actually because I want to think of a word that reflects this game, and this game only. So "fun" doesn't quite fit the bill. He!

    My best shot so far is "swell", and I mean that in a good way, not in a cheesy, condescending way. It's swell in an innocent, friendly, and happy way. The puzzles are serious business, but it's how the whole thing is put together that makes me feel all warm inside.

    I've clocked a little over 40 hours and I've completed 60 puzzles. Not bad. I think. I've only skipped two of them. Need some paper to work those out...
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    Status

    jp's Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 8 June, 2009

    GameLog closed on: Monday 14 September, 2009

    Opinion
    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    Great fun. It's sort of like Brain Age with a nice context and a keen eye on keeping things interesting and moving along.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See jp's page

    See info on Professor Layton and the Curious Village

    More GameLogs
    other GameLogs for this Game
    1 : Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS) by aparra (rating: 5)
    2 : Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS) by noopnomad (rating: 5)

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