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Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call

March 7, 2012

I should start off by saying that I am a massive fan of the Professor Layton series. After several comparisons being drawn between him an myself, I finally decided to check the games out, and loved every second. For this latest installment, I must thank Eve, my girlfriend, and her excellent taste in Valentine’s Day presents.

Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call acts as a prequel to the previous games, and includes how he first met Luke. After receiving a letter from an old friend, Professor Layton journeys to the mysterious village of Misthallery, which is being ravaged, apparently, by the eponymous spectre. Ever the inquisitive gentleman, Layton decides to investigate further in these strange goings on.

In this endeavour, he is joined by an assistant appointed by the Dean of Gressenheller University, Emmy Altava. She’s spunky and quick-witted and, unusual for a character in this series, has no qualms about resorting to physical action. I think Emmy is, in part, a corrective to the previous host of female characters in this series. I wouldn’t say that Professor Layton is misogynist but until now, female characters have been feeble and frankly irritating. Emmy is neither of these things, for which I am forever grateful.

She also serves as counter-point to Layton. Normally, Luke would provide the other half of the conversation that largely drives the plot. However, Luke doesn’t make his entrance until some way into the game. Without Emmy, that first part of the game would be eerily quiet.

Writing a review of this game is hard. The developers hit upon a formula in Professor Layton and the Curious Village and have stuck with it religiously ever since. This isn’t a bad thing as it works, and works very well. It does, however, leave little room for anything original to say. The scenery and animation are drawn with a quaint charm. The characters are all individual and quirky. The music is pleasant. That could describe any of the four games so far.

There are 170 puzzles inSpectre’s Call and this includes a healthy range from self-evident puzzles to hair-pulling-ly nefarious enigmas, even for a seasoned veteran like myself. Familiar puzzle designs make their return, in addition to completely new ones great.

To sum up, this is a charming and engaging, a comfortable addition to the Professor Layton series. It doesn’t stray too far from the tried-and-tested formula but this is no bad thing. I am sure it will be enjoyed by veterans of the series and newcomers alike.

NB: This is the second time I’ve written this. The first time, WordPress didn’t save it for some reason. Fingers crossed this time.

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