Video Game Review: Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Details: More information can be found at https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/professor-layton-vs-phoenix-wright-ace-attorney-3ds/

Score: 7.3/10

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a well told mystery story that successfully combines the puzzles of the Professor Layton franchise with the courtroom gameplay from the Ace Attorney franchise. I’ve never played a Professor Layton game before and I’ve only played one Ace Attorney game before that I did not love, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. Luckily, I found in this game a quality story told exceedingly well.

Professor Layton is a famous archaeologist from London known for solving ancient mysteries. Phoenix Wright is an ace attorney from America traveling to London for an attorney exchange program. When both these titular characters encounter a mysterious girl, they are both then transported to the magical world of Labyrinthia. Now the two must work together to uncover the mystery behind this magical place.

I really enjoyed the story. It was one of the more original and well thought out stories I’ve encountered in a video game. The story actually reminded a lot of the old Sherlock Holmes stories, in a good way. In those stories, Holmes would often times encounter something magical, but use his ruthlessly logical intellect to deduce the truth behind the fantastic. This is that kind of story and the journey to finding out the truth is full of twists and turns.

I also really enjoyed the story and all of the characters in it. They’re all very eccentric in hilarious ways. It helps the characters stand out and stay memorable.

Gameplay is comprised of Layton style puzzles and the courtroom style interrogations and deduction games made memorable by the Ace Attorney franchise. The game is made up of chapters and alternates between a chapter of Layton style puzzles and Ace Attorney style courtroom gameplay. I don’t love puzzles, but the story was compelling enough to get me through the Layton style portions of the game.

What surprised me was how much I enjoyed the Ace Attorney portions of the game. I played an Ace Attorney game prior and I found it mostly boring. Ace Attorney games mainly consist of questioning witnesses on the witness stand. You decide when to press them and when to present evidence, with the goal of pointing out contradictions in the witness’ testimony. In the prior game, I found this boring and obstructive of the story. You basically have to talk to every witness and press them on every single statement, which felt like a huge waste of time.

In this game however, the courtroom parts were the most fun parts of the game and that’s because the story was good. It’s incredible how a well written story can improve the experience of an adventure game. The plot developments and the eccentricities of the characters all help motivate the player to keep going. The quality of the story here was simply better than the story in the last Ace Attorney game I played.

Additionally, the game has a very forgiving hint system. If you get lost or stuck on a puzzle, you can pay a hint coin for a hint. There are tons of hint coins littered throughout the game, so you’ll never truly be stuck one something. I think I ended the game with like seventy hint coins.

Visually, the game looks great for a Nintendo 3DS game. Instead of static, 2D pictures, they used 3D models which looked great. A lot of animations were reused, but I didn’t mind because the story was so well written. There are also a ton of hand drawn animation, which also helped contribute to my enjoyment of the game. In a game that is so story heavy, the focus on presentation and visuals really helped.

The music in the game is fantastic. It’s well orchestrated and helped make dramatic moments more dramatic. There is a substantial amount of voice acting, but most of the game is not voiced. In such a story heavy game, I would’ve loved if the game was fully voiced.

Overall, this was a great game. Some of the emotional moments actually got to me. Most importantly, this is a story that relies on a mystery. Accordingly, the ending or the big reveal of the mystery largely determines the quality of the entire story. In this game, I found the ending satisfying. It was original, clever, yet reminiscent of other stories I’ve read in the mystery genre. If you like puzzle games or adventure games, this is one of the best games you can play.

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