Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is an absurdly long title for Level 5’s latest game in the Layton series. The game follows Katrielle Layton—daughter of famed Professor Layton (who is currently missing) as she starts her new detective agency—determined to prove her metal. She is accompanied by Ernest, her devoted self-appointed assistant, and Sherl, a talking dog who stumbles upon the agency. Like previous Layton games, you solve puzzles, search for hint coins, and unravel mysteries—complete with a beautiful art style and sound track. But that is where the similarities stop unfortunately. For better or worse, there have been many changes to the series’ formula, some good and some not so good.
In this iteration of the Layton games, instead of an overarching story broken up by chapters, there are various cases. The game features twelve distinct cases in all, each with its own unique mystery to solve. After solving a case, you then move on to the next case and so on. This isn’t a terrible change, but I did feel like the quality of each story was less than having one complete storyline, which has more time to be developed. On that note, the cases themselves seemed to be very simple and quickly solved. I am not sure if it was the game developers were trying to be more accessible to younger audiences, but I found myself solving the case long before the reveal. This made going through all the dialogue and finding all the clues much more tedious as I waited for the characters to catch up with me.
In each case you must find six clues, which helps unravel the mystery, and ultimately solve the case. You find clues by talking to people along your way. Some people give you clues, some direct you to the next location, some give you a puzzle to solve, and some just comment on their surroundings. After finding the sixth clue, you have the option to go ahead and solve the case or continue searching your surroundings. This is nice as you may tap the person with the clue first before searching around for puzzles. If you tap ‘solve’, you start into some more dialogue as Katrielle begins her big reveal. There is a short cutscene, and then the reveal and a short epilogue. After you finish a case you return to Katrielle’s office and can then start a new case. I would like to note that in this game there are very few, short cutscenes and way too much dialogue. The dialogue does set up each case and progresses the story, but I felt like I was in constant dialogue more than needed. Some of which was just small talk between characters. Ultimately, I wish there was more puzzle-solving over dialogue.
Puzzles are the bread and butter of Layton games. Sure, there is a mystery to unravel, but puzzles are at the core of the gameplay. Unfortunately, in this Layton game, they are few and far between. The most I found in one area was two, but this is not the average, as some places didn’t even have one. This may be because in a case you explore a small area of the city, to which you will revisit multiple times. This makes the world feel small and stale due to the fact that other cases may use some of the same settings as well. The puzzles themselves are average—they are fun but not too challenging. There are a few puzzles that where trick questions and, after awhile, became more annoying than challenging. What made them super annoying was I would always end up losing a picarat (the point system in the game). Each puzzle is given a point value and it will decrease with each wrong answer you give. You can get hints by using the hint coins you find and you don’t lose any points for using them. In this game, picarats are not just your overall score on puzzle solving. They now hold more weight. If you get a high picarat score after solving all the cases, you will get a secret bonus ending that will reveal more about the missing professor. So I suggest using your hint coins, but very carefully as there is a limited amount.
Other than solving cases and puzzles, the game offers a variety of mini-games, collectibles, and bonus content. In the bottom right corner of your touch screen there is a suitcase. When you tap on it, it opens up a menu screen. There you can save your game, keep track of your puzzles, review your progress, make memos, view your collection, and play mini-games. After solving three cases you will get Case Files in your suitcase. This allows you to revisit past cases and find hint coins you missed as well as puzzles. Areas you missed something in or that have a new puzzle, will highlight in orange and you can go straight there. This is nice as hint coins and puzzle picarats are needed, but also frustrating because you must go through the whole reveal again to save your progress. What is also frustrating is that the “added puzzles” are actually marked as puzzles you missed. I have gone through every area in a case twice and I still can’t seem to find all of the puzzles before solving the case. So I have concluded the puzzles I “missed” are actually added after you solve the case the first time. Why they are added afterwards, I don’t know, but more puzzles can’t be bad right?
The game also offers some customization. As you search areas you will also find Fashion Farthings which you can exchange for outfits to dress Katrielle in. You can find the outfits in your Wardrobe in the suitcase. The only downside of changing outfits is that in cutscenes, her outfit doesn’t change so there is a bit of inconsistency. The other customization is Kat’s office. In the bottom left corner of your touch screen is a chair. Tap on it and you can change the color and style of Kat’s office. Every time you solve ten puzzles you get a Decor Docket which you exchange for furniture items.
All in all I would have to say that this game has a lot of extra content to keep any player coming back. The visuals are beautiful as well as the music. The characters are average as well as the puzzles. The story is okay but not compelling, and ends with you wanting more. You can also play more puzzles in the bonus area by playing the daily puzzle if you didn’t get your fix with the main game. It is a decent game that provides some enjoyment, and has a unique gameplay style. I would love to see more Layton games—just make them with shorter titles and much less dialogue.