Layton's Mystery Journey

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Layton's Mystery Journey App Poster Image
Lighter tale in Layton series charms, but story disappoints.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Puzzles easier than other games in Professor Layton series.

Violence & Scariness

References to victims with broken legs, "possible" murder.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

In-game shop offers additional puzzles, costumes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Layton's Mystery Journey is the latest addition to the popular Professor Layton puzzle game/adventure series. This paid iPad/cell phone incarnation is highly kid-friendly with fun characters and easier puzzles than previous Professor Layton games. Aside from mention of victims' injuries or allusion to murders, there's no inappropriate content. There's no online mode or chat; an in-game shop lets players purchase extra puzzles and additional outfits for the game's heroine.

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What's it about?

LAYTON'S MYSTERY JOURNEY focuses on the exploits of newbie detective Katrielle Layton. As the daughter of famous London detective Hershel Layton (who, by the way, is missing) Kat's skills are put to the test by a series of cases that come to be known as The Millionaire's Conspiracy. With her enthusiastic assistant and a savvy talking dog, Kat crisscrosses London on her trusty bike, finding clues, interviewing witnesses, and solving puzzles like a master. Along with adopting the previous games' core gameplay, Mystery Journey throws in a collection of fun mini-games, lets you decorate Kat's offices, and lets you dress her in different costumes.

Is it any good?

Fans of the Professor Layton series expect three things: charm, fun puzzles, and a great story, but while this colorful spin-off aces the first two, it fails at telling a cohesive story. The main problem is that it begins by saying that Katrielle's famous dad is missing, so you expect the story to revolve around that point, or at least touch upon it. For some odd reason though, it doesn't. 

Kat and company go about building up the Layton Detective Agency as if it's business as usual, and it's not until several cases in that mention is even made of Hershel Layton. Nothing comes of it, though. Kat simply sidesteps the issue and keeps going. If not for that glaring omission, and the fact that the game doesn't actually let you solve anything (cases are solved by simply pressing a "solve" button), Layton's Mystery Journey would earn higher marks. Puzzles offer a range of logic and visual problems, and the cast of kooky characters keeps the tone humorous and fun. Music and voice acting are great, and the graphics are in perfect keeping with other Layton games. What really gives this Layton game its identity though, is its mini-games. These increase replayability and provide a whimsical break from puzzle solving. Still, the fun can't help but be watered down by the unanswered question of Hershel Layton's whereabouts. Where is Professor Layton, and why isn't his daughter looking for him?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how detectives are usually depicted in games, movies, and TV. Is Katrielle Layton unusual?

  • Think about real-life police work compared to how it's seen on TV. How do you think the two compare?

App details

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For kids who love mystery

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