Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is the third Professor Layton game. It concludes the original Professor Layton trilogy, and it does so gloriously.
Despite being puzzle games, the Professor Layton series is best experienced in order. While the original trilogy doesn’t have an overarching plot, part of what gives Unwound Future its impact is because of players’ knowledge of the characters and gameplay from the previous two games.
The basic gameplay is the same as in any Layton game. You explore through point-and-click mechanics, talk to characters, and solve puzzles. All sorts of puzzles are found, and while it isn’t mandatory to complete all of them, puzzle fans will find a lot to occupy their time – and challenge their minds. There are also mini-games, with more components added throughout the story. Fully completing a mini-game rewards you with, of course, more puzzles.
As with all Professor Layton games, there is a larger mystery the professor tries to solve as you play through the game. In this case, he and Luke have been transported ten years into the future, where London is under the sway of a sinister figure who appears to be an evil future Layton.
I’ll never forget when I finally reached the tower. Towers are a classic location in Layton games, so I knew from experience that this would be the final area. I’d climb the tower, confront the villain, the final pieces of the puzzle would fall into place (with a wild plot twist), and Professor Layton would save the day.
I was wrong.
Unwound Future didn’t end there. It still had surprises in store, as it presents the most complex and deep story of the original series. From that point on, I didn’t know what to expect, and it surprised me in many ways. Not only that, but its story had such emotional moments – particularly dealing with Layton’s past, and how he was separated from the woman he loved – momentous scene made Professor Layton and the Unwound Future one of the few games to actually make me cry.
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is, in my opinion, the best game in the series. At the same time, however, I don’t think it should be your first Layton game. It works best when you have prior familiarity with the characters. Knowing Layton, Luke, and even Don Paolo increases your emotional investment and makes certain revelations much more meaningful.
As the series is somewhat known for at this point, it culminates in a crazy plot twist, but Unwound Future handles it so well, it’s easy to suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride. If you like puzzle games and great stories – and especially if you’re familiar with other games in the Layton series – Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is a must-play.