Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review #328: Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright - Ace Attorney

 Right, I am.
 I would've never thought of having Phoenix Wright crossing over with Professor Layton, but as soon as it was announced, it made so much sense! Two heroes who solve all their issues with logic, one applies it on puzzles, while the other applies it to make sense out of various murder cases. And thus, here is it, the most logical crossover ever made, marrying the puzzles from the Layton series with the court trials from Phoenix Wright, and it's fantastic. Also, I'm only familiar with the Phoenix Wright franchise, so that was my viewpoint.

 The story revolves around Labyrinthia, a town stuck in the medieval age, where witches are real. The plot has both Layton and his gentleman-in-training Luke as well as Phoenix and his ace assistant Maya stumble into the town of Labyrinthia, where witch hunts take place daily. At first I was a bit worried about this supernatural spin on the court trials, since, while Phoenix Wright is no stranger to the supernatural, it was never this blatant. But magic in Labyrinthia follows rules. namely, a witch needs a scepter as well as up to two magical stones for up to two magical spells, which must be spoken aloud if a witch was to cast magic. I found the story to be very entertaining and engaging, and, as far as my little knowledge of Layton goes, true to the characters. Maybe a bit too true, while Layton is praised by almost everyone, Phoenix is the butt of the joke most of the time. Which makes sense, in universe, but at the end of the day Layton is the best at what he does... as well as at what Phoenix does. Phoenix never shocks Layton with a realization or theory, but it's made clear that Phoenix always plays catch-up to Layton's discoveries, even on the court trials, which I felt was a bit unfair to Pheenie. That aside, there's plot twists that you just won't see coming, due to how ridiculous(in a good way!) they are. And while the Phoenix Wright games have always dealt with murder and death, this game starts out a bit... darker, with witches, once found guilty, being burned to death on the spot.
 The game is divided in about 10 chapters, with a total of 70 puzzles and about 4 court cases, which lasted me about 18 hours. Usually, chapters alternate between 'adventure' style chapters that have you navigate the cast throughout the world of Labyrinthia, while solving puzzles to advance the plot and Court Cases, in which you play as Phoenix Wright and have to use evidence to point out contradictions in the witnesses' testimonies. From what I could gather, these puzzles are much simpler than the ones found in the Layton games, and I can tell you first hand that Phoenix cases are simpler as well. For instance, most evidence is produced during the trials themselves, as it advances or as you press the witnesses to elaborate on their testimonies. without 'investigation' phases to gather evidence beforehand. There's also a new gimmick, this time around you will have to cross-examine multiple witnesses at once, and you'll be able to press other witnesses if you notice they startle during another's words.

 Not having play the Layton games before, I did find most of the puzzles relatively easy to figure out. Since there's 70 of them, naturally I loved a few and hated a few, but all in all, there's plenty of variety. You can also gather 'hint coins' during the puzzle-themed chapters, which can be used to buy hints on both puzzles and court cases. If you ask me, I feel like this game is a fantastic starting point for people interested on dabbling on either franchise. The court cases are relatively simple, easing you into the trials you'd face on the main games(Although, honestly, the difficulty cirve resets on every game, and they ease you pretty well as the games go along), and the puzzles are simple enough as to give you a taste on to what you'd find on Layton, plus, the story does justice to the characters, and while I found a few nods to previous Ace Attorney games, you don't need to know anything about either to enjoy the story.
 Finishing the game lets you download(For free, and it's a second-long download, which makes me wonder why have them locked under a line of code...) 12 bonus chapters, each one features a short story segment as well as a new puzzle. I thought they were a drag. I mean, I liked the new puzzles, but the story was very boring. It serves as an epilogue of sorts, but suddenly every character is self-aware that they are in a videogame... I dunno, I felt the new story bits were boring, but at least you get new puzzles.

 Another thing that bears mentioning, is how good everything looks. The graphics are fantastic, sure, the game can chug a bit on the most intricate backgrounds when three characters are on-screen at once, but this being a game that revolves around reading, and reading a lot, it doesn't matter. Charmingly, Phoenix and Maya look like they do on their games(Which is to say anime-realisticish) while Layton and Luke look like they do on their games(Which is to say cartoonish), while the NPCs are a mixture of both, with main supporting characters taking after PW's style, and the secondary characters, like NPCs, taking after Layton's. It sounds as if it'd be a visual mess, but they mix relatively well. Voice acting and the soundtrack are top notch as well, they got fantastic voice actors for both Phoenix and Maya.
 I adored Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright, it's probably one of the best crossovers I've ever played or seen. It's not surprising how well both gameplay styles mesh together, but they managed to weave a fun, interesting and somewhat original tale tying everything together. While I'd recommend any Phoenix Wright game before this one, if what you want is Phoenix Wright, it does feel like a Phoenix Wrightish game, and I'm sure it feels like a Layton game as well. It's understandable why the puzzles and trials may be somewhat simpler than the ones from the main games, and I didn't mind it at all.The only thing left for me to say is.... I want a sequel.
 8.0 out of 10

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