Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box

aka: El Profesor Layton y la Caja de Pandora , Il Professor Layton e lo Scrigno di Pandora, Layton Kyouju to Akuma no Hako, Professeur Layton et la Boîte de Pandore, Professor Layton and Pandora's Box, Professor Layton en de Doos van Pandora, Professor Layton und die Schatulle der Pandora
Moby ID: 42715

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 86% (based on 41 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 23 ratings with 2 reviews)

Lame excuse for a game

The Good
I can think of two things that I like about this game.

  1. It's short. I finished the game in about 5 days, playing for between one and two hours each day.

  2. Solving a puzzle, using the correct method and good strategy, provides a sense of accomplishment.

    The Bad
    I've played a lot of puzzle games. Apparently, some should just be called "puzzles", since they don't have any "game" element in it, and are certainly not fun to play. Professor Layton is a prime example of this. It's a loosely organized collection of math problems with a small measure of hidden object seeking and detective-ing in the mix.

It's amazing how this game makes the math problems even more boring than they already are. I tried to solve the problems out of the context of the game, i.e. pen and paper, without using the stylus or the game interface at all, and I had more fun than doing it in the game. I did feel accomplished after solving some puzzles, but I would have gotten the same feeling reading a puzzle book, or just doing my math homework.

The hidden object and detective parts are also bad. Your stylus needs to circle a very specific area. Sometimes you already know what's wrong in a picture (which is what the game is asking you, if you're wondering), but you don't touch the correct spot (a very small spot), and the game won't register it as a correct solution.

The gameplay is bad, but the story is terrible. About 2/3 into the game you'll be solving puzzles in a horror-themed castle and things suddenly turn supernatural. The story eventually becomes so out of place and illogical, it's laughable. To be fair, I didn't not-like this part of the game, since it belongs in the "it's so bad it's good" category. If the puzzles part were fun to play, the story really wouldn't matter anyway.

The Bottom Line
There is nothing to play in Professor Layton. Taking a walk on the streets should be more fun. Doing your math homework is more fun. Just about anything in life is more fun than this game.

Nintendo DS · by Pagen HD (146) · 2013

Your grandma's puzzle mag in video game form

The Good
I have to admit: at first I was pissed off. In contrast to the predecessor, it is not possible to change the language and I had to play the game in German. I can't stand this! Thankfully the localization is well made and I never had problems with puzzles because of bad translation.

In comparison to the predecessor, I felt the puzzle quality was improved. In the Curious Village you could encounter very hard puzzles almost right off the bat; in the Diabolical Box there is a well-made progression of difficulty (although the overall difficulty is easier). I also encountered less almost identical puzzles, but this may be because I did not solve all 150 available puzzles. Many puzzles have a clever twist, but never feel unfair towards the player.

The game also progresses differently than its predecessor: instead of a single village, you visit various locations in order. I felt this works well because the change of scenery keeps the game fresh and interesting. The downside is the possibility to miss hint coins permanently, but I never came close to running out.

The Bad
In games like this, you don't need an elaborate plot because it just needs to serve as a framing device to lead from puzzle to puzzle. The Diabolical Box does a splendid job during the beginning stages: the story is there, it is cute and not in the way. However, it breaks down towards the end when the developers try to engage the player emotionally. Unfortunately the resolution makes no sense, the dialogue becomes annoying, the attempt at drama is pathetic and the puzzles play almost no role anymore.

Of course the big puzzle variety means you will encounter puzzle types you don't enjoy. For example, I loathe sliding puzzles. Honestly, I recommend to cheat and look up the solution online before spending your time with puzzles you don't enjoy. In the Curious Village I played mostly fair, but my enjoyment of the successor was much improved with the described policy. I also did not like the mini games, but they are completely optional.

The Bottom Line
In the end, your enjoyment of this game stands and falls with your stand towards traditional puzzles. Do you expect an engaging story or great game mechanics? This is not a game for you. But if you'd like a collection of mostly clever puzzles with some video game fluff, I can't recommend it enough.

Nintendo DS · by Patrick Bregger (303232) · 2021

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by firefang9212, Alaedrain, Tim Janssen, Terrence Bosky, Alaka, Zerobrain, Patrick Bregger, Cantillon, jaXen, Jeanne, ☺☺☺☺☺, Alsy, MAT, LordAndrew, Big John WV, WONDERなパン, CalaisianMindthief.