Thought it wasn't conceptualized as a Layton-branded game, Level-5 Inc's Mystery Room was going to be first and foremost about collecting clues and evidence to solve crimes. But now that it's been styled as a Layton game, do we get the same kind of charm and quality that we expect from the title's top-hat wearing counterpart?
Layton Brothers Mystery Room stars Alfendi Layton, son of the famous professor, and a rookie investigator named Lucy Baker. Together they solve crimes in the Mystery Room at Scotland Yard using a device that recreates crime scenes and interrogating witnesses and suspects.
The game is presented in the same kind of cartoony animation that the Professor Layton games employed, giving us a very eye-pleasing presentation. There's no voice-acting, but everyone speaks in speech bubbles and has their own different inflections and accents, giving each character a very distinct personality.
Upon taking a case, you'll be presented with all of the necessary information: profiles of the victim, statements from witnesses and the chance to look over the scene of the crime and check out different pieces of evidence. When you're not looking at evidence, you'll be questioning witnesses, trying to weasel out the truth from them. The investigative sequences in Layton Brothers Mystery Room aren't as intense as the kind you might find in the Ace Attorney series, but they do provide some good entertainment as well as info about the crime.
You'll come across several clues that might point to a certain person as the murderer, but you'll quickly learn that not everything is as it seems in the game and that sometimes you have to dig a lot deeper to find the truth. Without spoiling anything, I'll just tell you that you should leave no stone unturned and that you have to think a little outside of the box in order to expose the secrets behind a murder.
Scanning crime scenes is done in 3D, allowing you to swing the camera around and zoom in on areas of interest. Everything you tap will be submitted as evidence and can be brought up again in your files, just in case you want to look over what you've found. This is important because Alfendi will ask you about different clues and what they might mean, so you'll have to keep your wits sharp, lest you want to feel dumb in front of an animated video game character.
Once you've put together all of the pieces and gathered enough info to point to a suspect, then you'll call them in and start bombarding them with the most powerful weapon of all: the truth. Eventually, the suspect will crack after having each of their lies unraveled, leading to a successful investigation and the continuation of the story.
Now, the free download of the game only contains two cases to solve (three, if you count the quick intro), but there's enough there to really give players a feel for the game. Should they like what they find, they can buy Case Pack File 1, which includes Files No. 003 - 006, for $2.99 and Case Pack File 2, which includes Files No. 007 - 009 for $1.99.
The only thing that really holds the game back is that the cases can be solved pretty quickly. It may be unfair to compare this to the Ace Attorney series, where each case can take several hours of play to solve, but each case in Mystery Room is a speedy adventure, taking little more than an hour to complete.
Then again, the package is so polished that you'd probably be hungry for more and grab the Case Packs to extend your time with it. Let's hope this is the beginning of even more crime-solving with Lucy and Alfendi, otherwise the greatest mystery would be why there was only one of these games.