"In a game trying to deal with heavy thematic material, it’s odd that it all boils down to a trivia game with no wrong answers."
My experience with the Professor Layton series doesn't extend further than the knowledge that it has a whole lot of puzzles and Layton has seriously creepy eyes. So it was with excited curiosity that I entered into Layton Brothers: Mystery Room. Excited to learn more about the fanciful world of Layton, I jumped right in.
You step into the shoes of Deputy Constable Lucy Baker, who has been assigned to work with Alfendi Layton in the so-called Mystery Room. Alfendi Layton is the son of famous professor Hershel Layton, and that's the limit of the connections to past games. You meet the other Layton brother during the course of the game, and together they provide the most captivating aspects of the story. The three investigators piece together the murders supposedly too difficult for the rest of the precinct. Each case is its own independent story, and an overarching tale doesn't take shape until the game's final cases. The tale binding these episodes together becomes interesting, but the individual cases themselves fail to be anything more than average.
At the start of every case you're informed of the suspects, series of events, and location. Utilizing a smart and responsive touch screen interface, you can peruse the location to look for clues at your leisure if you desire; but this is never necessary. When you need to find a clue, the game lets you know exactly what object or item you need to find. Looking ahead of time will only necessitate looking again when Layton demands it. So for the first six or so cases (of nine) you're essentially tasked with clicking on the item the story requires at the time. Needless to say, it hardly allows for much in the way of gameplay. It gets boring quickly.
Further problems arise from the fact that every case's solution is completely transparent. From jealous lovers to fame-crazed psychos, no suspect seems to hide the fact that they've killed somebody. In fact, the game doesn't actually let you guess incorrectly anyway. No matter who you declare as the killer, you get another guess. There's no sense that you can fail, and that's because you can't. You could say an axe wound was caused by a beer bottle, and the only punishment is clicking through some "guess again" dialogue. In a game trying to deal with heavy thematic material, it's odd that it all boils down to a trivia game with no wrong answers.
As you solve cases, you're accompanied by a jazzy soundtrack that helps cement the game as a crime drama. Coupled with the range of amusing accents you come across, Layton Brothers starts to feel like a classic crime film at times. While there's no voice acting, each character has his or her own mannerisms and speech quirks to really set them apart from one another.
Layton Brothers: Mystery Room wants to be a point-and-click adventure game, but since you can never do anything incorrectly, it feels less like an adventure and more like a hidden object game. Mind you, a hidden object game with tremendous production behind it. The story becomes slightly compelling near the end, but trudging through a series of boring cases isn't worth it. Clicking on a screen until the game tells you specifically what to click on in your inventory is hardly a game; but that's exactly what Layton Brothers is. Mystery Room has absolutely no risk or challenge, so there's never any sense of reward or accomplishment. The game turns into a boring exercise in clicking, and I can't imagine anyone finding it fun.