Friday, February 15, 2008

I Left My Heart in...the Curious Village?!

Happy belated Valentine's Day, y'all!

I got my 360 back on Thursday, and I would have expected myself to immediately hook it back up and finally hit the streets of Paradise City. But another game that arrived from GameFly on Wednesday had already sunk its hooks into me and wouldn't let me go: Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Oh, what a delightful, charming, maddening little game.

At its core, this Nintendo DS game is just a series of brainteasers, but while I do have a fondness for logic puzzles, I doubt a DS cart that consisted of nothing more than a collection of them would really do it for me. What really makes this game special is the story, characters, and art style. Prof. Layton and his young self-proclaimed apprentice Luke journey to the village of St. Mystere to track down the Golden Apple, which is the key to the will of the late Baron Reinhold. Prof. Layton is summoned due to his renown as a puzzle expert, and the people of St. Mystere certainly put him to the test. Everyone you encounter has a brainteaser for you.

This Penny Arcade strip pretty much hits the nail on the head, but to the game's credit you don't actually have to solve every puzzle you come across. You do need to solve a majority of them to proceed through the story, but if certain puzzles just aren't to your liking, you're welcome to take a pass on them, and you can go back to them at any time. (There are a few exceptions to this rule, and I admit that one mandatory puzzle near the end, a sliding block puzzle, drove me so mad that I broke down and looked up the answer online.)

I find the game's visual style a bit reminiscent of The Triplets of Belleville, and peppered throughout the game are a number of really high-quality animated scenes. The game just feels really elegant, and I encourage everyone who enjoys logic puzzles to give it a look. I'm already looking forward to the game's promised sequel.

Anyway, having successfully solved the mystery of St. Mystere, I have now in earnest moved on to Burnout Paradise. Spectacular. The game is full of amazing moments, and the ridiculously fast racing that Burnout is known for feels better than ever. One of my problems with the last game was that traffic checking made it feel as if most cars on the road were made out of tinfoil. That's been totally rectified here, and everything seems to have just the right amount of weight to it. It's also one of the most visually beautiful games I've ever played, and it looks gorgeous even on my SDTV. It does make me wish I was playing in high-def, though. At these speeds, deadly cement outcroppings and other obstacles don't come into focus soon enough for me to react.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ryan Davis made the comment that it looked kind of like Padington Bear. I'm pretty inclined to agree, and it's another reason for me to get a DS.