If I was developing a video game, the last title I would give it would be Layton Brothers: Mystery Room. Aside from hamfisting in the Layton name to loosely tie in with that other franchise you may have heard of, 'Mystery Room' opens up far too many potentials for the imagination to play with – just ask Peter Griffin. Thankfully, it's really rather good.
Establishing itself as a... wait for it... mystery game, your sole goal is to solve a number of crimes as the annoying Lucy Baker, a rookie investigator who, seemingly, is yet to grasp the concept of English. Her tutor? One Alfendi Layton, son of Hershel and snooty asshole to boot.
Given Level-5 is at the helm, there are a few elements you'll have to resign yourself to before things get going: a horrific amount of dialogue; a huge amount of hand-holding – at first, anyway – and a choice of music that makes you want to rip your own ears off. Such things are all by-the-by, though, because the core game is so entertaining.
Broken down into individual cases, each one presents you with a crime scene and asks for it to be investigated. Given this is on iOS it's been developed with shorter gameplay sessions in mind so it never really gets more taxing than casting an eye over certain locations while trying to piece the evidence together. There'll be hidden objects that will help your progress no end, but given that most of these are found just by zooming in a little further underlines what's key here: the simplicity.
Each miniature plot is interesting, but they're deliberately designed to be played as episodes, filling the time Level-5 obviously assumes you'll have when on the move. There's some deduction needed – the most obvious suspect isn't always the guilty party – and if you successfully discover the trail you’ll be overwhelmed by the sense of satisfaction Mystery Room rewards you with. For its basic nature, it's very good at making you feel like you're in control, even though I'm pretty certain no matter what you do the game will always find a way to end up at the same conclusion.
It works, though, and whether you're snooping around a crime scene, cross-examining witnesses or having an obnoxious chat with your mentor, it's all very compelling and light weight. If you've been a Professor Layton diehard for years it may stray a little too far into the realm of straightforwardness, but it's very well suited to an iOS device. Those who dare stay with it for a substantial chunk of time will also be pleased that as you climb your way up the ladder, things do knuckle down a tad.
As per usual if you want all the content that's available you'll have to embrace the ways of in-app purchases, but given you get two out of the nine off the bat, and the rest are broken down into £1.99 and £1.49 packages respectively, means you don't have to break the bank. And believe you me, after two cases, you'll already know if this is for you...