Last week, I unfortunately wasn't able to talk about Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright because it quite simply hadn't been delivered yet. By now I've been able to sink a decent amount of time into the game and I can safely say that it's been quite fun. Quite fun indeed!
I don't want to delve too deeply into it because I'm still planning on writing a Cblog review for this game (although someone beat me to it, so go check out that blog too!) but it certainly wouldn't do to leave you here with nothing, would it?
So I guess I can leave you all with a little tease.
I recall that some people were wondering how exactly this game would play, and what the dynamic between the Layton and Wright gameplay styles would be. I think that's quite an important point to get straight, so let's get to that first. So far, this game has been just about a 50-50 split between Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright, as one might expect. I haven't exactly timed it or anything, but it definitely feels like both IPs get equal time in the spotlight.
One half of the game, you're going around town in order to solve the grand mysteries of Labyrinthia, a medieval city filled with magic and witches. During this portion of the game, it plays just like any other Professor Layton game. You talk to quirky (and well-animated, I might add) characters, who will tell you what you need to know in return for solving that one puzzle they have been struggling with for weeks now. However, this isn't just restricted to Professor Layton himself. Once our four heroes meet, Phoenix and especially Maya also get in on the puzzle-solving action. I definitely thought this was a nice touch, as it shows that the devs weren't afraid to intertwine their respective IPs.
However, at certain points in the story shit will hit the fan. Witches appear, murders are committed and people get accused. Of course, the people who get accused are inevitably innocent, and it's up to everyone's favorite attorney to set the record straight. At this point, you get to play a court case (almost) just like you would in any Ace Attorney game. Witnesses appear for questioning, the prosecutor gets in your hair, unexpected shit happens, the works. Again, this portion of the game isn't restricted to one character: while Phoenix is the active attorney, Professor Layton himself isn't shy to help you out in times of need. He even has his own "OBJECTION!" voice clip. There are some differences to what you would expect from an mainline Ace Attorney game, though. For one thing, you get very little evidence to work with, as no one in medieval times has ever heard of such strange things as "fingerprints" or "voice analysis". Instead, you get access to a tome that holds information on all of Labyrinthia's magic. "The real culprit was invisible!" becomes a perfectly valid argument once you open your magic book and find out that such a spell exists in this world. Moreover, in a first for the series, you get to cross-examine multiple witnesses at once. This may lead to slip-ups on their part, as Witness A claims to have seen things Witness B expressly denied. It isn't quite as satisfying as throwing evidence in their faces, and the number of witnesses means that they're not as well-developed as you would expect from Ace Attorney, but overall it works in the context of the game.
In short, on the whole the game is divided into distinct parts of Layton and Wright, but with some mixing and matching of characters. In my opinion this works exceptionally well so far. It never feels like one IP is overshadowing the other, and the Layton portions flow into the court cases quite well.
- Fun factoid: the Professor Layton series are some of the few video games that get translated into Dutch, including this one. Dutch is a shitty language for video games, however, so I'm glad I could still get it in English.