Layton's Mystery Journey is an iOS/Android version of an upcoming 3DS game featuring the daughter of Professor Layton as a detective going around the Level-5 version of London, solving puzzles and figuring out the implausible logic behind a series of weird cases. It's a good version of such a game, although it's clear that they haven't put enough work into making it a complete mobile experience. Not to say that LMJ isn't good, but it's for sure not exactly at the quality of a DS or 3DS game.

First and foremost, I've been frustrated with the puzzles. They didn't give me the eureka moments of past games, weren't clear enough and were filled with 'gotcha' type puzzles where I had to spend a few hint coins to be sure of what the puzzle was actually asking. Sometimes it might have been my fault for not understanding the puzzle right, but sometimes it's really unclear. The first puzzle required me to make a 'K' inside a box and I had made one, but the triangles were outside of the frame and it didn't count. The game should've said that, or marked the triangles in red, or something. It took me forever to solve this one because I thought I had the right answer. And sometimes the hints are bad and don't state more than the obvious. I had cases where the hints more or less all said things I knew, even the super hint, and that frustrated me to no end.

The stories are kinda bland, the mysteries aren't as interesting as other Layton games - a box that will kill anyone that open it, a town full of robots, time travel, etc - and I usually figured out most of the reasons behind the mysteries really close to their beginning. I still liked how you could move from story to story in order to collect unfound hint coins and puzzles and that you chose the order in which you're solving them. Most of the characters are interesting, including Katrielle Layton herself, but Ernest, her assistant, is really annoying and clingy, and I wish they hadn't made him that way. The talking dog is cool, alongside most of the support cast, in their classic Level-5 one-note character sort of way.

There are side minigames to unlock, much like in other Layton titles, and they're okay. There's one I don't like - you have to tailor menus for clients with specific, but hidden tastes - because you lack information, but the other two are okay, it's a shame that they don't unlock anything. You should've gotten a few special extra-hard puzzles for your troubles. There's also an office decoration thing where you use tickets you won for solving puzzles in order to buy furniture to decorate your office, it's neat, but there's not enough variety, and when you bought the stuff you like, you have no motivation to spent these tickets ever again. Finally there are costumes for Katrielle, which can only be bought for real money. I presume that on 3DS everything will be unlockable, but this game is half the price, so I won't complain too much.

Then, there's technical stuff. I had a few crashes during the game, which would be completely unacceptable on the 3DS, but I suppose is fine on mobile? There are also some sections where text doesn't fit perfectly in the box. Also the game is a bit ill-suited for mobile, the game doesn't stop when you switch to another app, so your in-game time is a bit inflated, and there's no real sleep mode, so you have to be careful to save whenever you want to stop playing, because otherwise you might lose some progress. I kinda wish they had figured out ways to always resume more or less at the right spot, like it would work when putting your 3DS on sleep mode.

I like the idea of 'real' videogames on mobile, and LMJ is a good candidate for that. I still plan to complete it - there must be about three cases left - and seven cases in, I'm still interested in it. There are a few flaws here and there - I bet the technical issues might be resolved on 3DS while the puzzle and character designs might not, and if they change puzzles I'll be really surprised - but it's still a pretty solid Layton experience.

AuthorJérémie Tessier