The puzzle-filled adventures of Professor Hershel Layton have been delighting gamers since the early 2000s. Level-5’s Professor Layton and the Curious Village hit the Nintendo DS in 2007, and since then, the franchise has effortlessly migrated to the 3DS and smartphones, been translated to other media like film and manga, and even managed an epic crossover with the similarly mystery-minded Phoenix Wright.
The latest chapter in the Layton saga is a spin-off of sorts. It features Katrielle, the good professor’s daughter, who solves the seemingly unsolvable with the help of her own boy Friday, Ernest Greeves, as well as a talking dog, Sherl. If this narrative fever dream sounds oddly familiar, it should; it was originally released for Android, iOS, and Nintendo 3DS back in the summer of 2017.
Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy initially received a bit of a mixed reception on the 3DS, likely due in part to the lack of Layton the elder, but this new deluxe edition—beautifully remastered in HD for the Nintendo Switch—fleshes out the original offering with new content and fills a peculiar, mysteriously-shaped hole in the domestic Switch lineup.
The overall shape of the game shouldn’t surprise those who played it on the 3DS or, for that matter, anyone who’s ever put themselves into the crime-fighting shoes of a member of the Layton clan. You will navigate cityscape maps, explore crime scenes and talk to the denizens of this quirky, timeless London, and regularly solve clever, humorous puzzles as you unravel larger, thematically linked mysteries.
You’ll also be regularly treated to gorgeous anime-style cut-scenes that truly bring the game world to life. While Level-5 has always gone the extra mile for its tent pole franchises like Layton and Yo-kai Watch, I cannot overstate how amazing this new Switch version looks and sounds. It’s a feast for the senses that, in truth, makes me more than a little impatient for an American release of Yo-kai Watch 4.
The story—same as it ever was—involves Kat Layton’s new detective agency. Following in the footsteps of her missing father, she takes the cases that are too difficult (or just too weird) for other investigators, and things certainly start off with a bang. She encounters a talking dog… I mean, an amnesiac talking dog that only she and Ernest can understand. Of course, she agrees to help him, and the fact that Sherl himself is a bit of a canine sleuth certainly doesn’t hurt matters.
It won’t take savvy gamers long to notice the differences in Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy – Deluxe Edition. Obviously, gameplay is now limited to a single screen, and even on the diminutive Switch Lite, the on-screen real estate is well managed and both the button-based and touch controls work wonderfully. The game also parcels out the new puzzles (some 40 in all) nicely, even including some in Katrielle’s first case, “The Hand That Feeds,” wherein she and her team attempt to solve the mystery of Big Ben’s missing hour hand. Also included in this edition are 50 new outfits—a boon for us dress-up gamers—and all the game’s previously released DLC.
While this doesn’t exactly fix the title’s biggest flaws, namely that the central cases never quite coalesce to the expected level and that the game’s grandest mysteries remain unsolved, it may manage to entice some lapsed Layton fans back to the proverbial table. In my opinion, though, the big draw here is for new players who haven’t yet experienced the puzzling gameplay of this story-driven adventure series.
Kat, Ernest, and Sherl are an endearing trio of protagonists, and the relative ease of most of the game’s puzzles—not to mention its charming game world and intuitive controls—make this a great jumping-on point for a stand-out Level-5 franchise. Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy – Deluxe Edition is, like its cast of characters, fun and smart and beautiful and very, very strange.
If talking dogs, rotating character wardrobes, and solving mysteries for London’s eccentric one-percenters sounds like your idea of a good time, definitely seek out Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy – Deluxe Edition. Finding it is a case that anyone can crack.
Review materials provided by Nintendo of America. This post contains affiliate links. I can forgive a lot of things, but a detective naming a dog Sherl O.C Kholmes isn’t one of them.