What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is a narrative-driven adventure filled with hundreds of puzzles. As in previous Layton games, its heroes -- including a professor, a young woman, and a boy -- are very likable and make great role models for kids. They stop to help strangers, rarely back down from a challenge, and always use their heads rather than their fists to overcome obstacles. There's a bit more action than in previous games, with the protagonists occasionally coming under fire from guns and missiles. But the violence is rare and mild and at no point overshadows the game's hundreds of brainteasers. Even when under attack from rockets, players still need to solve puzzles, examining numbers stamped on each one to disable them in order. And, as usual, a generous supply of hints helps ensure that kids who are struggling never get completely stuck.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- solving puzzles
Engagement, Approach, Support
Beautiful anime-style presentation and a straightforward interface will help keep kids glued to this excellent puzzler. Both boys and girls have heroes to identify with in young Luke and Emmy.
Puzzles present themselves organically as narrative events and feel like a natural part of the game. Kids will end up doing math and improving their reading comprehension without even realizing it.
Multiple hints for each puzzle are available as players need them. They start vague and slowly grow in detail, the final one virtually giving the solution away. No official supports exist outside the game, but none are needed.
What's it about?
PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE AZRAN LEGACY continues the story of earlier Layton games, focusing on the mysteries of a prehistoric civilization known as the Azran. At the behest of another professor, the puzzle-loving doctor and his young friends Emmy and Luke are called to a snowy village, where they find a woman apparently frozen in ice for a million years yet still alive. She's of interest not only to the game's heroes but also to their rivals, an evil organization called Targent, whose members believe she may be the key to unlocking the Azrans' ancient power. This sets the stage for a journey to locations all around the globe, with no shortage of contextual puzzles lying in wait at each stop. Players will encounter math-based riddles, spatial conundrums, tricky labyrinths, and tests of reason. Each puzzle is different from the one that precedes it. And, as in previous Layton games, even more puzzles -- including a fashion game and a pair of logic-based challenges that see players manipulating objects adhering to strict rules -- can be found inside the professor's suitcase, which he takes everywhere with him.
Is it any good?
The Layton games have always been catnip for puzzle lovers who are tired of repetitive, one-trick puzzle games, and Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is no different. Few of the game's hundreds of puzzles are alike, and most of them are wonderfully crafty and loaded with red herrings, requiring players to carefully reread the instructions in search of clues that will help reveal the real solution. There's a delightful sense of satisfaction upon a successful solve.
The only potential problem is that, although all the puzzles are technically new, a surprising number of them feel like reworked versions of puzzles that appeared in previous Layton games. This won't be an issue for relative newcomers to the series, who will find it all very fresh and likely will have a fine time from start to finish. Longtime Layton fans, on the other hand, may find themselves wishing for a bit more originality.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about puzzle solving. Have you ever noticed how stepping back and taking a break from a particularly frustrating conundrum sometimes makes it easier to solve when you return? Why do you think that might be?
Families also can discuss Luke's role in the game. He's pretty young to be going on such a dangerous adventure. Do you think Professor Layton is cautious enough with him around? Do you think you would handle such an adventure as maturely as he does?