Professor Layton and Luke Triton team up with Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey to unravel the mysteries of Labyrinthia. But whispers of witchcraft permeate the town and fear of the Great Witch Bezella’s uprising has never been more prominent. The battle between legal and logic over magic and fantasy is both dramatic and compelling until the Story’s End.
Level-5 and Capcom bring together the meeting of two brilliant minds in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in their first crossover game – and it’s utterly enthralling. Inspired by children’s classic fairytales, Professor Layton and his trusty sidekick Luke find themselves in the curious town of Labyrinthia after meeting Espella Cantabella, a young girl on the run from witches. While there’s no wardrobe in sight, both the professor and Luke discover Espella’s book – Historia Labyrinthia – and are swallowed into the pages à la The NeverEnding Story.
Meanwhile, Phoenix and Maya are in London for a spot of legal action, but are weaved into Espella’s story and Labyrinthia rather by accident. But when all four meet in the town, they must work together to uncover the Storyteller’s secret.
For fans of both the Ace Attorney and Layton series, there is a pleasing balance of courtroom drama and puzzles scattered throughout the storyline. Movement and investigation follow the Layton design and format, with 70 puzzles to solve and 200 hint coins to find, while the witch trials track the Ace Attorney design with a few tweaks. However, due to the nature of the storyline, the witch trials are often lengthy and are far less frequent than the brief but well-paced investigation process, leading to somewhat lopsided gameplay.
Newcomers will be overjoyed at the variation in puzzles, though fans of Layton may find the difficulty level too easy, with most solvable in a short amount of time. Hidden puzzles or ones offered by characters are much more diverse in difficulty, with Puppy Postal Patrol, Unusual Music Box and Chalice Challenge outshining in design. Court room drama gives players more scope to make mistakes and the addition of using Layton’s hint coins is well utilised, offering a selection of answers rather than pointing out the obvious.
The wacky, off-the-wall characters are still present for Ace Attorney fans, where outrageous conversations provide much amusement for otherwise serious scenes, plus the exceptional voice acting brings depth and distinct differences to their personalities. Capcom and Level-5 have blended together wonderful drama, combined with a thrilling story full of intriguing twists. And the emotion between the characters, melting seamlessly with the game’s soundtrack, brings a lump to the throat rather unexpectedly.
In terms of aesthetic design, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright is divine. The 3D works beautifully between the foreground and background images, with the medieval setting exuding in creativity. The design team appear to breathe new life into the mythical town and are at home in the fictional places, just as in Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy. The art style between Capcom and Level-5’s franchises, at first, seem quite off-putting but begin to transform and mould in perfect harmony as the story progresses.
However, an unfortunate flaw in the game’s design arrives with numerous characters on-screen at once. While cross-examining testimonies, Phoenix can question a number of witnesses on the bench, but in doing so, the frame rate can drop considerably in both 2D and 3D. While it’s not a major fault, it does weaken the visual appeal of a near-perfect game.
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a fantastic merge of two brilliant minds and, combined with a gripping yet fiery story, is also an absolute gem for the genre. Hopefully there are no objections from Capcom and Level-5 for a sequel.