Having played every Professor Layton game released, I have seen both the highs and the lows of the franchise and it saddens me that Azran Legacy marks the last title featuring the infamous and titular Professor Layton. With this in mind, I went in hopeful that Level 5 crafted a game suitable for Layton’s departure, a game which would allow him to go out with a bang. Unfortunately, although the presentation of the game and the finale to the game were grand, the rest of the game failed to be anywhere near as exciting as the rest of the Professor Layton franchise.
The overarching plot throughout the game revolves around Aurora, a girl who comes from an ancient civilization called the Azran. After being entrapped in ice for more than two million years, Aurora is woken up from cryogenic sleep by Layton and his compatriots. The group quickly learns that Aurora has access to vast amounts of power, which proves to be problematic when an evil organization, Targent, wishes to use this power to advance their own agenda.
Unfortunately, the story is told very unevenly throughout the game. While there are a ton of plot twists and plentiful backstory, it all unravels within the last two hours. The previous Professor Layton games had very interesting plots with no shortage of mystery and adventure, but by comparison, Azran Legacy seems haphazardly put together. As a result, it is challenging to care about the overarching plot; it would be better for players to devote their attention to the five major subplots.
Yes, Azran Legacy chooses to focus on developing side stories rather than the larger narrative. This would have been acceptable, had these subplots been interesting or came to some sort of satisfying conclusion. Unfortunately, they were rather unsatisfying to play through and the sheer number allowed less chances for any character development to take place. I felt like there was a lack of character development, especially with the villains, in the game until the very end. It seems like Level 5 spread themselves too thin and the game would have been better, had they condensed the plot and removed the frivolous middle section.
The main meat of all Professor Layton games come from the puzzles — and Azran Legacy has no shortage of them. In fact, it has over 150 for players to solve and takes no time to rack up the difficulty. It expects players to have some sort of previous experience with the franchise and, as a result, lacks any sort of difficulty curve. New players to the franchise might find trouble getting through the initial parts of the game, as the puzzles can be rather challenging, while veteran players will have a blast getting through all the challenging and thought-out puzzles.
One area where the developers absolutely succeeded was the presentation — they went all out and it shows! Miracle Mask, the previous installment in the franchise, was also on 3DS, but it failed to fully explore the depths and advantages of 3D environments. Azran Legacy, on the other hand, is beautiful when played in 3D. The cutscenes and environments all contain multiple layers rather than just a foreground and background, allowing the 3D to be more of a central feature rather than a necessary afterthought.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is not the best Professor Layton game or anywhere near it, but it is a fitting conclusion to the legacy. Although the story may be inconsistent and the puzzles potentially difficult for new arrivals, veterans will be satisfied with both the puzzle difficulty and the elegant finale. It is definitely not the first game in the franchise that new players should try, but those who have experience will find this to be a fun fifteen-hour adventure.