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E3 2017: Discussing The Future Of The ‘Layton’ Series

Saturday 17th June 2017 by Natalie Kipper

On June 14, smack dab in the middle of E3 2017, I met with two members of Level-5 Inc. to discuss their latest project Layton’s Mystery Journey. The title will release on the Nintendo 3DS as well as mobile devices, both iOS and Android.

The choice to expand to the mobile platform stemmed from a desire to reach a broader audience, to create new fans while not alienating older ones. The mobile version will not follow the free-to-play model. It will have an as-yet unannounced price tag but that first purchase is all that is required to play the entirety of the game. They do plan to have in-app purchases of some variety but these are completely not required to enjoy the game (the 3DS version will not have in-app purchases). The mobile game can be played without wifi but you may want to log on each day to get the free Daily Puzzle downloads. Even without these downloads, Layton’s Mystery Journey contains over 500 hundred puzzles, more than any other title in the series.

For both the mobile and 3DS versions, the gameplay mostly remains the same at the core. However, while Professor Layton’s mysteries seemed to become grander and grander in scale with each installment, his daughter Katrielle’s game is much smaller in focus. She is just starting to establish herself as a detective and as such the tone is more light and even humorous at times. The color palette reflects this by including brighter tones. There are 12 chapters in the game’s story but there is the possibility for post-release DLC for both versions.

Another slight difference is that in the previous Layton games, the puzzles were created by the late Akira Tago. Layton’s Mystery Journey will feature puzzles from the mind of Iwanami Kuniaki. His background is in Mathematics compared to Tago’s in Linguistics. It should be interesting to see how this effects the feel of the puzzles.

Level-5 is all about portability with their games, which is why the move to mobile felt so natural. Their games are intended to be played on a handheld system. As wonderful as this is for mobile and 3DS players, owners of the Nintendo Switch are left out in the cold. The truth is Level-5 loves the Switch but the challenge with developing for it lies with the console’s hybrid nature. Yes, the Switch can be played as a handheld device (which is how Level-5 wants their games to be played) but as soon as you pop that Switch into its dock and the game goes onto the TV screen, that is where the problem arises. It is a shame but I am happy to be able to play Level-5’s beautiful games at all. Here’s hoping that they find a solution to this particular puzzle soon.

The message to new fans is that the game is “open to anyone at any age of any gender.” The game is great to pick-up and play and not intimidating, full of enjoyable moments from Katrielle’s journey.

As for extra incentives for past fans to play (if even need one), it was mentioned that there will homages to previous titles found in Layton’s Mystery Journey. They were mum on returning characters, though.

Because the mobile game launches first, Level-5 anticipates that portions of the story will be spoiled prior to the 3DS release. They aren’t concerned, however, as the main draw of the game is solving the puzzles. So even if the gamer knows the full extent of the plot going in, there is still incentive to play.

Layton’s Mystery Journey launche on mobile worldwide on July 20, 2017. It will launch on the Nintendo 3DS on July 20, 2017, in Japan, and in Autumn 2017 for the rest of the world.