Professor Layton and Pandora's Box Review for DS

On: DS
And yet he opens it anyway. Idiot.
And yet he opens it anyway. Idiot.

And yet he opens it anyway. Idiot.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village was undoubtedly one of the best DS games of 2008 - a stylish cartoon adventure that wrapped a murder mystery plot around a massive collection of puzzles and riddles. Wez and his lady immediately fell in love with it, and such was his enthusiasm that I utterly failed in my attempts to prize his review cart away from him. So when a shiny copy of the sequel showed up at the office last week, I was quick off the mark to grab the code for myself.

As with the last outing, Pandora's Box follows the top-hat wearing Professor Layton and his schoolboy sidekick Luke as they work their way through a mystery. This time the story kicks off when Layton receives a troubling letter from his mentor, Dr Schrader. The message explains that Schrader has come into possession of The Elysian Box, a cursed artifact that supposedly kills anyone who opens it. Since he's a skeptical academic (read: idiot), he ends his missive by saying that he plans to open the box anyway. Our heroes dash over to Shrader's house, and sure enough it turns out that he's deader than a dead man who isn't alive anymore. Oh yes, he's an ex-doctor alright - but who or what was it that killed him?

The resulting investigation brings Layton and Luke to a luxurious sleeper-train called the Molentary Express, and later to a number of unusual places along the locomotive's route. At each stop you make you'll meet a selection of oddball characters, from floppy-haired detectives to irate cattle farmers, and they all have something in common: an obsession with puzzles. There are over 150 challenges to work through, from sliding block conundrums to logic-basic riddles. The layout for these tasks is deceptively simple, with instructions on the upper screen and the puzzle itself on the touch screen below, but the harder efforts will still have you tearing your hair out.

On the plus side, Pandora's Box comes bundled with a fairly efficient hint system. When you're not actually solving a puzzle you'll spend your time exploring your surroundings, moving between static screens with simple taps of your stylus. As you scout about it's a good idea to examine interesting objects around you, as every so often you'll find hint coins - currency that can be used to buy clues when you're stuck on a puzzle. There are three hints per teaser, each providing more information than the last, and the third one all but gifts you the correct answer. You may feel like a bit of a cheat if you push things this far, so you'll probably only do this if you're absolutely desperate.

The thing about Layton... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes.

The thing about Layton... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes.

On the other hand, you'll feel rather pleased with yourself when you nail a puzzle on your first attempt. There's a very short cutscene that plays every time you submit an answer, and you'll soon learn to hold your breath during these interludes. Assuming that you're successful, you'll be rewarded with a number of Picarats - a sort of indicator of how well you're doing at general puzzle solving. There's no massive penalty for repeated failure, but since you can eventually spend Picarats on unlocking secret content, you'll generally be discouraged from spamming a puzzle till you get the answer right.

All of this description will be inherently familiar to veterans of The Curious Village, but Pandora's Box also has a few points of difference. For a start, there's now an extremely useful memo function that allows you take notes during puzzles: a transparent grey filter covers the screen, and you're suddenly free to doodle about as you wish. This may not sound like much, but you'll soon appreciate the ability to write stuff down during the more taxing challenges. Indeed, I'd wager that some of the game would be near-impossible without this asset.

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User Comments

claret47's Avatar

claret47@ bazilbrush

hi pls pls pls i've tried what u said not working can any one give me route on puzzle 125 been at it for hours cant get any further....thanx
Posted 02:46 on 28 December 2009
tigerlips1's Avatar

tigerlips1@ danny2505

answer to puzzle 86 fill in all the lines apart from the bottom two whic will make two a side by side
Posted 13:02 on 18 December 2009
tigerlips1's Avatar

tigerlips1@ sparkles

you stick the two corks up his nose i only know this because my nine year old daughter told me
Posted 12:42 on 18 December 2009
danny2505's Avatar

danny2505

completed the puzzle 125
Posted 13:52 on 21 November 2009
danny2505's Avatar

danny2505

stuck on puzzle 125 cant make head or tail of it can any 1 help
Posted 13:08 on 21 November 2009
danny2505's Avatar

danny2505

stuck on puzzle 86 any help
Posted 10:35 on 12 November 2009
danny2505's Avatar

danny2505

thanks would off been there for ages
Posted 10:08 on 12 November 2009
mou5er's Avatar

mou5er

Sorry-Right 1 square, down 2, right 2, down 1 then 1 right to exit
Posted 23:07 on 10 November 2009
mou5er's Avatar

mou5er

From the inspector: go left one square, down 2 squares, right 2 squares, down 1 square and right to exit
Posted 23:03 on 10 November 2009
danny2505's Avatar

danny2505

hi all please help very stuck on 110 chelmey's pass just cant do it cannot nove on
Posted 18:57 on 10 November 2009
tashie55's Avatar
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tashie55

im lookin for ward to playin this game. i love the first one so cant wait to get my hands on this one.
Posted 05:51 on 08 November 2009
mou5er's Avatar

mou5er

Or-to put it another way, how do I get into the museum? Can't go back, can't go forward-well and truly stuck!!!!!
Posted 21:28 on 29 October 2009
izzanator's Avatar

izzanator@ sparkles

you just put them in two other openings, not involved with the maze at all... ;)
Posted 19:28 on 29 October 2009
mou5er's Avatar

mou5er

I am stuck in the Clocktower Plaza-he keeps asking for a cup of tea but when I make the right one nothing happens and now I can't progress. Help!
Posted 15:11 on 29 October 2009
lisaleo19's Avatar

lisaleo19@ sparkles

put the 2 corks up his nose
Posted 19:34 on 27 October 2009

Game Stats

Professor Layton and Pandora's Box
8
Out of 10
Professor Layton and Pandora's Box
  • Charming art style and music
  • A compelling story
  • Excellent value for money
  • Puzzles occasionally lack clarity
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 24/09/2009
Platform: DS
Developer: Level-5
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Puzzle
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 7+
Site Rank: 1,806 805
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