There’s nothing like the stories of whodunnit, and The Professor Layton series has been a popular series for those type of stories. Now, the series has come to iOS as Layton Brothers Mystery Room , that follows the outlandish cases that are sent to the Mystery Room at Scotland Yard. It’s up to brilliant investigator Inspector Alfendi Layton, and his new assistant Detective Constable Lucy Baker to crack these crazy cases. The game is set-up similar to Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright in that you investigate the crime scene to collect evidence, which in turn you use on the suspects. There are three suspects to question in each case, and you will need to untangle a web of lies step by step until reaching the final showdown.
There are nine cases to dive into, though the first two are available for free with cases 3-6 costing $2.99, and 7-9 for $1.99. In other words, it’s $5 to fully enjoy Layton Brothers Mystery Room, and the question is if it’s worth that cost, and your time. The answer depends on your infatuation with murder mystery novels, and puzzle games, respectively. The reason is that the game isn’t what it appears on the surface, like a number of these cases. Where Phoenix Wright can be quite challenging in the puzzle realm, Layton Brothers is more straightforward. In fact, a majority of the game is force fed to you, so that you’re sitting back, and watching rather than actively thinking. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is described as a game, and that may not be an apt description.
Layton Brothers Mystery Room is better described as an interactive murder mystery novel, rather than a crime solving puzzle game. The distinction is subtle, but it’s definitely there, and it revolves around how the cases play out. Layton Brothers takes you by the hand to collect evidence, ask the right questions, and point you in the right direction for murder weapons, motive, and holes in the suspect’s stories. Just like many interactive storybooks on iOS, your interaction progresses the story, but you’re just following along to the eventual conclusion. It can be quite slow moving and boring, to tediously tap through the crime scene, and wait for the right time to present an obvious clue you saw at first glance. The main drawback is the puzzle expectation of the game, as if it was labeled as the interactive murder mystery novel that it is, it could be judged on that point.
Once you get past the puzzle expectations, you do get to experience some very well written stories. In fact, each included case is an intriguing story that will keep you engaged through the slow moving interactive portions just to find out the solution. The final showdown is also an enjoyable sequence as you sling accusations to breakdown the suspect’s shield over their true intentions. There are all kinds of lies to get through, and there are some really nice twists to uncover. All of it is presented with high quality design, and there’s an overarching storyline across all nine cases, relating to a darker side of Inspector Alfendi Layton.
Layton Brothers Mystery Room (Free, Universal / $4.98 IAP) is a finely crafted storybook experience that just isn’t the puzzle game that is expected. If you’re looking for a visual murder mystery, you will fully enjoy the app, but if you’re expecting a puzzle game, you will be disappointed. With that in mind, Layton Brothers Mystery Room is worth considering, and you can give the first two cases a try for free.