Having solved the puzzles of St Mystère, Professor Layton and his assistant Luke are summoned by Layton’s mentor Schrader to investigate the mystery of the Elysian Box, a supposedly cursed item that kills everyone who opens it. And when Schrader himself dies, Layton and Luke must use all the logic at their disposal to figure out the truth behind the curse of the Elysian Box.
The sequel to Professor Layton and the Curious Village brings us more of the same in the form of a mystery game where you progress by solving puzzles of every kind, from riddles to mathematical problems. In most aspects, the game is the same as its predecessor, so this brief review will primarily focus on the differences between the two.
Since the puzzle solving is more of the same, the main differences in the sequel are in the mini-games, which are on the whole a bit more challenging and enjoyable than those in the original. The first of these mini games involve an obese hamster that you start taking care of early in the story. As the game progresses, you gradually accumulate toys which can be used to exercise the unfortunate creature and get it to lose weight- and, once fatso has been transformed into a slim, svelte beast, it will even sniff out hint coins on your behalf! With the hamster’s help, you can accumulate enough hint coins to keep even the most stumped puzzler on track, although of course gaming honour might mean you don’t want to rely on hints at all!
Next up on the list of diversions is Layton’s tea set- yes, like a true English gentleman, Layton can now brew tea anywhere and everywhere. Various characters throughout the game world will supply you with ingredients, from which you must discover the recipes for the perfect brew through a process of trial and error. In due course, you’ll amass a range of different teas, which can be used to satisfy the taste of any thirsty NPC. And, once you discover the right tea for the right person, they will naturally be so grateful as to want to offer you a reward.
The third mini-game is similarly divided into two halves- during the early sections of the game, you’ll collect parts for a camera, which must be fitted together correctly in order to get the device working properly. Once the camera has been assembled, you can use it to take photos of certain areas, which then form the basis for a spot the difference game that ranges from straightforward to fiendishly difficult.
As with the first game, Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box is a linear mystery, forcing you to investigate and reveal things in the order dictated by the story, rather than having any real insights of your own into anything other than how to solve individual puzzles. The final explanation requires more than a little suspension of disbelief, but ultimately you’ll be playing this more for the puzzles than to figure out the underlying mystery.
Little has changed since the first game in the presentation department either, with Professor Layton 2 offering the same simplistic visuals and unobtrusive background music. There’s little to say here- you’ll never come to this series expecting to be wowed by the presentation, but it fits the low key nature of the game well.
A second dose of puzzling fun, Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box offers up more of what made the first game so enjoyable, without feeling the need to break any new ground. If you like solving brainteasers, then you’ll probably already have it, but if not, rest assured that this series remains highly addictive and offers excellent value for money.