Warning: this review is longer then my usual reviews! WAY LONGER. For reasons.
So, this game. After a month, I finished it. And honestly, I feel sad. I’m going to directly say that I think that this game is amazing. I’ll defend this game in this article. My newly ordered mind hasn’t arrived yet sadly enough. But I might write a longer review then usual? Why, since I find that this game totally deserved it. So, yeah! This game gets the longer review for a reason. I feel ashamed that you guys in America can’t play this game yet. So, I’m avoiding spoilers as much as I can! But before we start, the usual. Feel free to leave a comment on the game and or this article.
Writer versus the story
In my first impression I talked about how I can predict the ending of stories from games or movies. I was able to predict the ending of other Layton games and Phoenix Wright games in the past. Yet, this game has taken me by surprise.
I have to say, that the ending took me off guard. All the plot twists and how the story wrapped up, just was an amazing ride. If a story can do that to an experienced writer, then you can be sure you have a solid story.
At first, I would say that there are a few plot holes in the story. Yet, the unexplained plot holes in the main game will be explained in the bonus content you unlock after finishing the game.
The writing of the story is the best I have seen for a cross over from this format. It’s quite clear that each company has written his or her part. The parts where you play as Layton, feel like a real Layton game. And the writing in the parts of Phoenix, truly feel like you are playing an Ace Attorney game.
I didn’t expect that when both styles get crossed would work so well. The two styles blend in each other without notice.
One question people asked me is what meaning the “versus” has in the title. A minor spoiler, it has different meanings in the game. There is a part where you actually have a battle between Layton and Wright but you have moments where Layton and Phoenix work together to solve the case.
Do I have complaints about the story? Yes, thanks for asking. I have no complaints about the writing. It’s just spot on. Yet, it’s the voice acting. Now, don’t get me wrong! The voice acting is top notch. People who hate dubs of anime’s, you won’t be disappointed with the voices and the casting of this game. But there is a major issue with the voice acting.
The moments where the voice acting is used is a bit strange. There are moments where one person is voice acting and the others are just plain text. Or there are moments in the game where the voice acting just suddenly stops. You will have to play the game to understand what I mean but it’s truly annoying.
This menu has an objection?
Let’s take a look to the user interface. And here I have my first complaint, you can’t delete save files. While this is a minor annoyance, I don’t get why they didn’t program a feature in where you can delete a save file when saved by accident on the second slot.
The main menu, well, it’s good and bad at the same time. While I miss the options button, that you can find in game, it’s not cluttered. Only the bare essential buttons are in the main menu. This is actually good because you don’t need to waste a lot of time to the main menu.
So, let’s take a look at the in-game menu’s. Thank the lords they took a combination of both games for this! The lay-out of the menu’s in Layton is excellent but you have to operate it all with the touch screen. In the Ace Attorney games, you can open things with pressing the buttons. While you can’t do much, besides closing the menu, inside the menu with the buttons, it’s a neat feature!
Also, you have a notepad for the whole game. Yes, you have a memo feature for the whole game. That’s simply mind blowing. I admit that I haven’t used it but I think that the idea is simply great. Since some people aren’t that good at remembering and having a space where you can write notes is pretty good.
But with every good thing comes a bad thing. While it’s great that you have an items menu where you can look at the items you have, it’s so bare bones that it’s actually kinda bad. When you have a letter, you can’t read it’s content or when you have a book, you can only stare at the cover.
And if I may be extremely nitpicky, the mysteries. Okay, I understand that this feature comes from the Layton games but why is this ‘Layton exclusive’? Let me explain. The button for this option shows Phoenix and Layton with a speech bubble with a question mark in it. But in the whole menu, only Layton talks about the mysteries. Phoenix isn’t allowed to talk about the mysteries? That was a bummer. It’s clear now that I’m a bigger fan of Ace Attorney, I guess.
Also, the story button is a perfect addition to the game. With this you can somewhat relive parts of the story. What I mean here is that you have the “View Story” button when you press on an entry in the story menu. This games you a brief overview of what happened then. And it’s different then the entry itself.
So, I mentioned a bit about the controls of this game. How you control the menu’s. Now, the controls outside of the menu’s is just way better then the Layton games. One complaint I always have with those games is that the touch screen is used too much. But in this game you can use the buttons more. The controls, no real complaints there.
Now, let’s game.
Let’s talk about the gameplay. The meat of the game. The bones is more the story. Anyways, the gameplay is just well balanced and fun. It’s quite clear that this game is aimed mainly at fans of both series.
The game switches between both gameplay types quite nicely. And they managed to blend the investigation moments with puzzles without them being annoying. I applaud the developers for that!
It’s quite fun exploring around in the town. Sadly, your are restricted to one area because the story forces you too but there are many opportunities where you visit every place in the game.
At first I thought that the area of the game would be too small. But as soon as you continue to play, you are proven quite wrong quite quick.
Something that helped me a lot is how the map shows how many hint coins or hidden puzzles are in the area. That way I was sure that I didn’t skip any hint coin or puzzle. But this concept needs some minor tweaks. One tweak they could do is show how many coins or puzzles are at the place you are currently at. Since that’s not possible. And another tweak they could have done was showing the amount of hint coin or hidden puzzles somewhere on the top screen maybe? So you know if you found everything in that area or not.
The difficulty, well, that’s something that this game has some trouble with. The game isn’t very easy but it isn’t very hard either. If you pay attention during the game or when you have played other games in the series, this game isn’t a big challenge. I had a lot of hint coins to spare at the end of the game.
In my first impression I have said that it’s strange that you can’t earn hint coins during trails. While I understand that it would be awkward trying to hide them in trails, I still found it strange. You can use hint coins in trails and thank the lords that they don’t “solve” the puzzle for you. They show which statement needs pressing or presenting, and if you need to present evidence, you can pick out of three options. Also, when you need to answer a question, one hint coin actually hides a wrong answer. And you can’t use more then one hint coin at one time.
The last part of the gameplay is the actual length. In the case of this game, we have to talk about how much each character is on screen AND how long the game takes before you have beaten it.
The balance between Layton and Phoenix, no complaints. Honestly, I enjoyed the parts more where they were both together. It just felt right.
And the actual length of the game, well… according to my save file you can beat this game around 30+ hours. Which is great length for the game. They provided enough plot twists so that there is never a dull moment and I think that’s one of the strong points of this game.
Reviewing the other parts.
Let’s begin with the easy one. This game has some replay value. It might be fun to replay to challenge yourself to get more points or to see what dialogue you get when you pick different answers. But since this is a visual novel, adventure game; the replay value is almost zero.
The post game content, well… ehrm… How to say it? It’s perfect. When you load a finished save file, you can either play the final chapter(s) of the game again or you can start at a part where you can look for puzzles you have missed.
Maybe I looked over it but the points you gain after completing a puzzle or finishing a trail aren’t used anywhere. Maybe something for the additional content?
Anyways, the additional content is great! You can download galleries where they show concept art and you can download bonus episodes. In those episodes some plot holes are explained or some background information about Layton or Phoenix is revealed and you get some additional gameplay. The writing is just beyond excellent.
The music and sound is next. The sounds, I have no complaints. No dull or overused sound effects. I’m glad that they used the sound effect library of both games. The fans feel right at home! But the soundtrack, if they ever release it on CD, I’m so going to buy it. I love listing to it and it has the right mood all the time.
And now let’s talk about the last part of this game; the design, graphics and animation. Do I have complaints? Yes. Are they big? No.
As far as I know, I have one complaint. And that is in the animation area. The movement of the mouths is the weakest link. I found that the animation there isn’t as solid as the animation in the other parts of this game. But the rest of the animation, the graphics and the design… is extremely solid.
The anime cutscenes, the world this game takes place in, the animation of (nearly) everything… It puts this game so well together. You truly feel as a spectator of this game. In other words, the immersion of this game thanks to the visuals is perfect. It’s hard to put the game down.
So, I think I’m going to my conclusion. I talked about almost everything there is to talk about in this game. But don’t worry, I have still left some things as a surprise. Let’s wrap up this ‘journalistic review”
+ Amazing story line.
+ Eye candy graphics.
+ A solid cross-over.
+ Great length.
+ Beautiful soundtrack.
– Some minor nitpicks with the menu.
– Some small nitpicks with the save files.
– The difficulty could have been better.
– The moments they used voice acting could have been improved.
So, I have written this extremely long review for a couple of reasons. As I said before, I wanted to give this game what it deserves! A great long review. Don’t worry, the length of this review won’t be my new standard. This review is twice as long as a normal review.
Another reason why I wrote such a long review is to challenge myself because I wanted to try writing a review as long as in a magazine or on a game website. I think I succeeded.
Anyways, my final thoughts about this game are simple. This game needs a sequel. Yes, this game is so well done, I’m hoping that they create a sequel. Nearly everything is solid and I the complaints I have are mostly nitpicks. It’s clear that this game is polished to near perfection.
If you are a fan of the genre, the series or the 3DS you owe it to yourself to play this game. I love how it’s clear that the cross over of this game is taken serious and that the final product we got was worth the wait. That’s why I give this game the points it deserves!
Score: 100 / 100