Level-5 adds to the already stellar Nintendo DS game library with the recent release of Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box.
This iteration of the Layton series has the player controlling Professor Layton and his assistant Luke as they try to solve the mystery of the Elysian Box and why it kills all who come in contact with it.
The game plays much like a typical murder-mystery, but with a twist: all of the puzzles are brainteasers. How these brainteasers intertwine with the main story is one of the best aspects to the game. Many of the puzzles relate directly to the plot of the game, not allowing the player to progress any further until the puzzle is solved. The excellent story is told through both talking head and anime cut scenes, the latter of which are quite fun to watch. As a nice distraction from the brainteasers the game also includes a variety of mini-games, such as a hamster the player must help lose weight and a tea set used to cure the various characters in the game.
The only real downside to the game is how the developers seemed to have “dumbed down” many of the puzzles. Although the game still includes some brainteasers which are quite difficult to solve, most of them can be solved by simple guesswork. This is a major difference from the previous game in the series, where the player gets a real sense of accomplishment when solving many of the puzzles. That sense of accomplishment is almost gone with some of the puzzles in the new game being quite simple to figure out.
One of the best parts of this game is that both casual and hardcore gamers will have fun with it. The murder-mystery plot is very clever, and the anime cut scenes alone make the game worth playing. Although most of the puzzles are a bit easier than those of the previous installment, some of them are still incredibly difficult to solve. Anyone looking for a good puzzle game will enjoy this installment of the Layton series.