Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy Review
In Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, Layton receives word from his colleague Professor Sycamore that he's discovered an ancient mummy frozen in ice. What's more, the mummy isn't a dead body wrapped in bandages, but rather a young girl ... and she appears to be alive. But someone else is after the girl, and it's up to Professor Layton, along with long-time sidekicks Luke and Emmy, to discover what's so special about the girl, who else is after her, and what they want with her.
If you've played any of the Professor Layton games before then you'll be right at home with Azran Legacy. If not, the game will ease you into things, explaining the basics of gameplay within the first minutes of the game. The game's story is self-contained, so you can certainly begin your Professor Layton experience with Azran Legacy, although long-time fans of the series will get more out of the story.
The game adheres to the series' standard of old school adventure game style gameplay mixed with plenty of puzzles, most of which are of the variety you'd find in puzzle books. You'll scour each new scene with your magnifying glass cursor looking for hotspots that will initiate conversations with people, uncover hint coins that can be traded in for hints on puzzle solutions, and, of course, those that uncover a new puzzle to solve.
There are well over 100 puzzles in the game, just as there were in previous Professor Layton games, but it seems that at this point the game's designers are experiencing a bit of puzzle design fatigue. Some puzzles are variations on a theme we've already seen many times before, such as those that have you trying to measure out a given volume of water using unmarked containers of different capacities. Others rely on rotating or sliding things to form a pattern, and feel more like exercises in trial and error than tests of logical reasoning skills. And there are puzzles this time around with trick answers, which I don't remember seeing much of in previous games in the series. Overall, the collection of puzzles is enjoyable, but since the bar had been set high by the games that have come before it, Azran Legacy feels like overall its puzzles fall a bit short.
And that includes the puzzles in your "trunk" - three types of puzzles that you'll unlock new levels for as you make your way through the game. One is fun, one is challenging, and one feels more like pointless filler than a puzzle challenge. The fun puzzle is Nut Roller, which features a squirrel trying to roll a nut through a maze into his hut. The maze can be modified by rolling stones through it first. The challenging one is Blooms and Shrooms which involves planting flowers in a garden to provide energy for its trees. You need to maximize the energy for the trees while avoiding mushrooms which give off poisonous vapors. The last puzzle is Dress Up. A character will ask you to design an outfit by selecting various pieces of clothing from your inventory. Each piece is rated in a category such as 'cute', and your job is to maximize the rating in each character's favorite category while adhering to any other requirements such as a general color scheme. This isn't so much a puzzle as an exercise in mix-and-match, and since the clothing pieces are doled out as your adventure continues the current 'puzzle' may not even be solvable with your current inventory of clothes.
Azran Legacy does introduce new "action" sequences to the series. I put "action" in quotes because these sequences really amount to short and simple timed puzzles. Find the object that doesn't match the others before time runs out, that sort of thing. These sequences mix things up a bit and are a nice change of pace, but those who prefer to take their time and give puzzles some thought probably won't appreciate them as much.
Parts of Azran Legacy even unshackle players from the strictly linear gameplay that's been a part of the series from the beginning. While falling well short of a branching storyline, the game does allow you to choose the order in which you'd like to tackle a set of sub-quests.
Azran Legacy does have all of the charm of its predecessors, though. It features the same quirky cartoon art style and has its own menagerie of odd yet endearing characters. The story is pure Professor Layton and the dialog is lighthearted and fun. If you're a fan of the series and want to continue your Professor Layton experience with Azran Legacy, then there's no compelling reason not to play the game. If you're new to the series and are looking primarily for a challenging puzzle game, then you'll want to start with one of the older games instead of with Azran Legacy.
Final Rating: 79%. Plenty of puzzles, just not quite as puzzling.