Filled with over 150 puzzles and ten mysteries to solve, the game will get your reasoning juices flowing. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box is a sequel to last year's award-winning Professor Layton and the Curious Village; but you need not have played the first one to enjoy this sequel.
Professor Layton is a British chap who is an expert at solving puzzles and mysteries. He is accompanied by his young apprentice, Luke, who also has a keen mind. In this game, the Professor has received a disturbing note from his old friend and mentor, Dr. Andrew Schrader. Dr. Schrader mentions finding the mysterious Elysian Box, which is rumored to kill anyone who opens it. Rushing to Dr. Schrader's side, Professor Layton finds him lying lifeless on the floor. The Elysian Box is missing, and the only clue is a train ticket for the super posh Molentary Express.
Following the only clue they have, Professor Layton and Luke board the Molentary Express. In addition to exploring the deluxe train, their travels take them to a variety of locations, including a quaint farming town and a phantom town that is not on any map. At each location, there are people to talk with and objects to find. Plus the puzzle-solving duo will encounter nine other mysteries in addition to the main Elysian Box mystery. One involves a young girl named Katia who boards the Molentary Express without her father, and another involves finding a fellow train passenger's beloved companion Tom.
What makes this puzzle game so much fun to play is that most of the puzzles fit nicely into the story. For example, when the train needs to switch tracks inside a tunnel, you must solve a puzzle about moving two trains between switching areas while keeping the cars in order. In another, you must open a lock by rearranging symbols so that they fit a set of rules. Other puzzles are presented by quirky characters; and, if you don't solve their puzzle, they won't tell you what they know. But not all puzzles are tied to moving the story forward; some you can skip with no consequence, and visit them later.
Another real plus with this game is the way it is structured to help you succeed. At each location, you can hunt for hint coins by simply tapping on objects in a scene. With these coins, you can purchase up to three hints for every puzzle. And every time to stop the game and thereafter resume, the game reminds you where you are in the story. There is also a journal to consult, which is helpful since this is a complicated story.
In addition to the main mystery, the nine sub-mysteries and the puzzles, the game also offers you three mini-games. One is about placing objects on a grid to make a hamster exercise, another is about finding and assembling parts to a camera and the last one is about brewing unique teas.
Also fabulous are the hand-drawn watercolor graphics, the moody music and the wit expressed in both spoken and written dialogue. The story line is long (seven chapters in all) and intriguing. Plus, for a while, the game offers additional weekly downloadable puzzles.
For adults who like brain teasers, this is a … no-brainer. Grab it. For parents looking for video games that entertain as well as expand children's minds, this is a great choice. While many of the puzzles can be solved by kids as young as age 8, several involve advanced math concepts; so the game is best played by those ages 12-up. For every puzzle solved, the game provides a detailed explanation which helps players who may have guessed the correct answer instead of puzzling it out.
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