Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Layton Brothers: Mystery Room

Review: Layton Brothers: Mystery Room

2:00 PM on 08.19.2013 // Tony Ponce

A gentleman leaves no murder unsolved

Despite my affection towards the Professor Layton series, I felt no compulsion to download Layton Brothers: Mystery Room when it released a couple months back. I'm not against mobile gaming, nor do I believe it's impossible for a traditionally home / handheld console franchise to make a successful leap into the mobile space. But I'm not so proud that I can't admit to still being somewhat biased.

And so weeks passed. While flipping through the App Store just the other day, I noticed that the first few chapters of Mystery Room were free. I figured it wouldn't hurt to give the game a quick spin to see if it deserved my money. Okay game, I thought, convince me!

Mystery Room does exactly what a good spin-off ought to do, which is to craft an experience distinct from yet complementary to the mainline series. With a focus on solving murders rather than "I haff twelve metchsteek" puzzles, it's less Professor Layton and more Detective Conan -- a blend of anime antics and crime drama that works perfectly on a mobile platform.

Layton Brothers: Mystery Room (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 4S])
Developer: Matrix Software
Publisher: Level-5
Release: June 27, 2013 (US / EU)
MSRP: Free (Case File No. 000-002), $2.99 (No. 003-006), $1.99 (No. 007-009)

You won't find Professor Hershel Layton or his young protégé Luke in this new tale, which takes place an indeterminate number of years following the duo's globetrotting adventures. Instead, you assume the role of Lucy Baker, an eager new detective constable working in Scotland Yard under Alfendi Layton, genius son of the ol' professor.

Despite the game's title implying otherwise, Alfendi's unnamed brother is curiously absent aside from a brief offhand mention early on. Perhaps Level-5 hopes to investigate that particular mystery in a future sequel, but it's nonetheless an odd naming choice.

Anyway, Mystery Room is split into nine separate "Case Files" (plus a prologue chapter to establish the setting). In each, you must use your investigative skills to examine murder sites and determine the culprit from a small list of suspects. Most cases are unrelated to one another, save for the last few which tie directly into the game's overarching narrative.

The meat of the game is the investigation phase, in which you use the touchscreen to navigate the crime scene for evidence. Unlike your typical point-and-click adventure, all objects you can inspect will be pointed out via markers. Though genre-savvy players might believe this makes the game too easy, the upside is that it eliminates both the tedious exercise of pixel hunting as well as any fears that you can't solve a case because of a single missing clue.

After making a list of deductions, you invite the alleged culprit into the office for a final round of questioning; here's where Mystery Room gets deliciously anime-tastic. Much like the "cornered" sequences in the Ace Attorney series, the culprit grows more comically frustrated as you present evidence that contradicts his or her statements. Their composure is visually represented by a heart encased in stone, and each of your accusations take on the form of arrows that literally chip away at their defense. While the earlier cases are fairly straightforward, later ones feature last-second twists that may point the blame elsewhere.

As tense as the game can become, there's never any danger of failing. Al will gently guide you towards the correct answers early on, but even in the more complex cases, the penalty for presenting incorrect evidence is just to pick again. You'll never have to replay a section just because of your mistakes, which makes it entirely possible to brute force your way through. However, there is a sense of hearty accomplishment in putting forth an honest effort.

The story isn't as massive in scope as those of Al's old man, but that shortcoming is balanced out by a well defined cast. Alfendi himself is a mellow fellow who calculates the percent certainty of his suspicions down to the tenths place, but in the heat of interrogation, his demeanor changes to that of a sinister, sharp-tongued wolf. Lucy of course is the bright-eyed sidekick, anxious to prove her worth despite her lack of experience. Then there are the supporting characters and the criminal suspects, each with distinctive mannerisms and speech.

The dialog is one of the game's biggest highlights. Mystery Room successfully textualizes a range of regional dialects -- you can almost hear Lucy's thick Cockney accent whenever she speaks. It's such a shame there is no voice acting whatsoever, considering the incredible voice work in the main Layton games.

The other highlight is the incredible jazz soundtrack, produced by famed Streets of Rage composer Yuzo Koshiro. There's such energy and intensity there, as if you are playing a classic radio drama. Once you start putting pressure on your suspect, the trumpets flare, the drums go absolutely mental, and the player feels completely in control. You've got the mind of a super sleuth and have the theme song to prove it!

Mystery Room is also a highly digestible experience. Each chapter feels like an episode of a TV show -- long enough that you feel adequately invested, yet short enough that you can easily clear a case in a single sitting. Though there are frequent checkpoints for those who absolutely must quit mid-investigation, the fact that you can tackle a chapter in the time it would take to watch CSI makes the game very inviting.

Most of all, there's something immensely satisfying about putting on your thinking cap and solving a harrowing murder mystery. Even if there isn't any true risk of failure, the game creates just enough tension that you feel your actions have purpose. Add to that all the window dressing -- the bizarre characters, the over-the-top interrogations, the music -- and you'd have to be pretty jaded not to have a grand time.

Layton Brothers: Mystery Room is a fine companion to the main Layton series. Unless you really, really miss those Highlights brain teasers, that is.



Layton Brothers: Mystery Room - Reviewed by Tony Ponce
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Tony Ponce, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure megaStryke Tips
(Decommissioned) Super Fighting Robot more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Layton Brothers: Mystery Room

  Jun 27

Layton Brothers: Mystery Room hits iOS today

'Who is the mom?' is the real mystery

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Little Slice of Childhood

Top 5 Reasons Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 IS AWESOME!

Cblogs of 11/26/15 + Combat Heropon-isms

Video games go mainstream

I’m Not a SJW, I’m an Anthropologist: Making the Case for Diversity in Games

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

Things I'm Thankful For

Cblogs of 11/25/15 + Turkey N Stuff

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
When I did my retail shift today, we were moving more Smash/Splat Wii U bundles and the Gears/Rare Replay/Ori XB1 bundles than Uncharted and Battlefront PS4s. I think Nintendo and MS have better value on their side this holiday. Sony got lazy.
Confuseddalek avatarConfuseddalek
I found this weird game called Samurai Heroes for 8 dollars today. Its not bad.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Got Deadpool, Arkham Asylum and BioShock 1 and 2 all for 30$. Not to bad for going Black Friday shopping late.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If you haven't played Tales from the Borderlands yet, GO BUY IT! By far the funniest game I have ever played, and the characters and narrative are incredibly well written. Very few memes unlike BL2 by the way.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Played all of Life is Strange today in one sitting. Bloody hell. You should all play it. Only game this year to make me cry. Bravo developers. Possibly the most valuable thing I've ever bought for £10.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night, got farther than ever in Wasteland 2. This is my third playthrough-once thru beta, once through the orig version, now on Directors cut. Worth the restart, and it speaks highly of the game that I like it enough to do this. DAMONTA HERE I COME!
KeithTheGeek avatarKeithTheGeek
GUYS HELP I KEEP BUYING MORE AMIIBO. Today it was Little Mac, since he went back up on Gamestop's website. I probably would have gotten Captain Falcon as well if I wasn't already running a little short on cash.
BigDoniel avatarBigDoniel
50 hours in and I can safely say that Xenoblade is the best JRPG I've played in years. Should hopefully be finished in time for X too!
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -