REVIEW: Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)

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  • Nintendo 3DS / Rated E10+ / $39.99 / released February 2014
  • FINAL: You NEED this game. 5 out of 5 stars

Professor Layton and his able assistants Luke and Emmy tackle another mystery in “Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy,” now available exclusively for Nintendo 3DS. Pitched as the final release in the series, “Azran Legacy” serves as an excellent capstone to this franchise where characters and story matter as much as the puzzle design.

Azran Legacy” follows up on archaeological leads left dangling in the last two Layton games. After encountering ruins left behind by the ancient Azran civilization, now Professor Layton finds the most unbelievable relic yet: a “living mummy” left behind by the Azran themselves. The mummy – actually a young girl named Aurora – inspires Layton to travel the globe on a hunt for lost Azran stones, all while staying a step ahead of the nefarious secret organization known as Targent.

Functionally, “Azran Legacy” is much the same as ever. You walk through endearingly odd locales and pump passersby for clues. Naturally, almost no one cooperates until you solve a puzzle for them. After five games, it’s a well-worn pattern, but it’s all so comfortable that you are unlikely to mind. The only major change to the formula is that the middle portion of “Azran” lets the player choose the order in which to explore the stones’ locations. In the end, it hardly matters since you have to do all of them anyway, but it is nice to experience multiple mini-mysteries in wildly different locations, all in service to the greater storyline.

There’s a wide variety of puzzles to tackle – logic, number, organizing, even some that seem only possible in a video game – but the in-game hint system does a great job of making sure you can figure them out. Quite frankly, even if you do not want to devote the time and brain power required to de-stump every stumper, the game is so good that it’s worth playing even if you cheat your way through using an unofficial online strategy guide.

But the series’ signature element is that the puzzles are all connected by a well-written, intriguing story told via top-notch animation and voice acting. “Azran Legacy” includes some revelations about Professor Layton himself, and builds a connection back to the first Layton game, “Professor Layton and the Curious Village.” The animated segments are a treat, complete with an unnecessary but appreciated 3-D enhancement.

Azran” also makes use of the 3DS’s “StreetPass” feature to create a Hidden Object style puzzle to share with other players. However, it involves serious amounts of backtracking as you search out specific hidden objects, so it’s probably the least interesting part of the package.

Between the storyline, the side puzzles and unlockable content, “Azran” has hundreds of puzzles to chew on. New downloadable puzzles will be provided every day for a year, for free.

There is just no better puzzle game series out there. If “Azran Legacy” does stand as the last time we follow the good Professor into the unknown, this is a fine game to end on.

This review is based on product supplied by the publisher. Image courtesy Nintendo of America.