Some improvements over the original, but has new issues too
(www.plasticpals.com) Professor Layton and his peppy sidekick Luke are back in their 2nd grand adventure for the Nintendo DS. This time they're hot on the trail of the Elysian Box, an ornamental artifact said to (gulp) kill anyone who dares open it. The Professor gets a letter from an old colleague about the box and, sensing something is amiss, he and Luke soon discover the old man's body with the Elysian Box nowhere to be found. The letter included a mysterious ticket (destination unknown) aboard the Molentary Express, which is where the investigation starts to pick up steam.
The Layton games are based on the puzzle books created by Akira Tago, who also designed some brand new puzzles for the video games. They use stylus input only, with the player tapping on characters to begin conversations and on arrows on the map to move around. It's a very simple control set up that just about anyone should be comfortable with, including people who normally never play video games. And thanks to the game's simple progression (talk to characters, solve puzzles, move around, repeat) the game is easy enough for anyone to complete from start to finish. As usual, if you get stumped you can buy hints using hint coins hidden like Easter Eggs in the storybook-like background illustrations.
While the game does present the player with an enjoyable mystery story and a fun cast of characters, the real meat and potatoes are the game's 150 puzzles. They range in difficulty, with many having immediately obvious solutions, while others can be truly vexing requiring a mixture of trial and error and dumb luck. There's a couple of puzzles with trick questions that were slightly annoying, but on the whole the puzzles are well done. There seems to be less logic puzzles in this one compared to the first game, with more puzzles that require you to move pieces (be they pegs on a board, chess pieces, or block mazes).
The Diabolical Box throws a few new ideas into the mix with some mini games you play on the side, that are generally more enjoyable than the furniture arrangement in the first game.
If there's one thing I didn't enjoy as much about this game compared to the first, it would be the story's conclusion, which didn't quite add up. That said, the game leaves you with a warm feeling and takes you to more places than the first (you won't spend much time on the train), and it lasts longer as a result. The production values are also top notch; the artwork, music, and animated cinematic scenes are simply fantastic. Some of the puzzles are based on classics which have been around for centuries which were cool to see. All things considered, Professor Layton & The Diabolical Box is an enjoyable and relaxing game to play.
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