Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is the fifth entry in the Professor Layton series and the second game in the prequel trilogy. It’s a decent place to start the series, although knowing the basic plot points of Professor Layton and the Last Specter will help if you’re interested in the story.
When a friend of the professor’s asks him for help, he, Emmy, and Luke go to the city of Monte d’Or. A mysterious Masked Gentleman is terrorizing the city with sinister “dark miracles,” and Layton resolves to find the truth.
As with all Professor Layton games, the gameplay involves point-and-click mechanics and puzzle-solving. Lots of puzzle solving. Miracle Mask has 150 puzzles of varying types (and difficulty) to solve, and it went even further for players who want additional puzzles. While previous Layton games included weekly puzzles, Miracle Mask upped it to daily puzzles. Every day after the game’s release, for an entire year, new puzzles became available to download. All 365 daily puzzles are still available now.
What really makes Miracle Mask stand out, though, is the depth it added to Professor Layton’s past. While Unwound Future showed him as a young man, Miracle Mask includes several flashback chapters to his teenage years. Not only do you get to play as young Hershel Layton and meet his friends (including Randall Ascot, who got Layton interested in archaeology), but it also includes a dungeon-crawling section as he and Randall explore an ancient ruin.
Miracle Mask continues the plot started in Professor Layton and the Last Specter (and the movie, Eternal Diva, though knowledge of it isn’t required to enjoy the game) and sets down plot points for the next game. The post-credits scene raises the stakes so much, I couldn’t wait for the next game once I saw it.
The main story isn’t one of the stronger Layton plots, but the flashback chapters make up for it. I loved seeing the professor when he was so young, especially because he was so different. You could really see how he changed as he got older, and what an influence his friends had on him. Understanding the relationship between him and his childhood friends also ties into the game’s present story, as you slowly figure out what happened.
This makes Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask a definite choice for fans of the series and its puzzles should be enough to pull in general puzzle fans, as well.