The biggest mystery of Level-5's Layton Brothers: Mystery Room is who exactly is Alfendi Layton's biological father, because it sure as hell isn't the good Professor.
Professor Layton is a stocky fellow who travels the world with his companions, solving an endless string of mind-bending riddles. Alfendi Layton is a lanky, sharp-featured man with a machine that allows him to investigate crime scenes without ever having to leave his office. Alfendi and his new assistant question witnesses, examine evidence, and solve cases with dramatic flair.
You know, if Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright had a son... oh my god.
Now we know where the tension between the pair in Professor Layton Vs. Ace Attorney comes from. Obviously Phoenix got together with Layton's wife behind his back, and Alfendi is the product of that torrid affair.
Never mind that Professor Layton never mentions his wife. He never mentions a son either. He's ashamed. It also explains why Layton is so fixated on his young companion, Luke. He's a son-figure who isn't a constant reminder of betrayal.
It all fits. In Layton Brothers, Alfendi only mentions his father in passing, and there's a definite air or resentment about him. He's a shut-in, rebelling against the Professor's world-traveling ways. Plus he has a secret, one likely born out of intense psychological abuse.
All of this deduction is what comes of spending several hours sifting through the criminal cases of Layton Brothers: Mystery Room.
Much more Phoenix Wright than Professor Layton, Alfendi is a crime scene investigator who handles only the most baffling of cases. Utilizing imaging technology that borders on magical, he and his new assistant sift through a series of nine increasingly difficult cases (two included free, the rest available through in-app purchases), scouring the scene for evidence, culling the suspects down to one. Through deductive reasoning and the evidence provided, the pair must whittle away at the culprit's defenses until they confess.
While the first case is pretty straightforward, there's something very strange and rather scary about Alfendi Layton that's revealed as the game continues — he is not a well man. Understandable, considering the questions I've raised about his parentage.
The truth of the matter is Layton Brothers: Mystery Room was originally planned as part of Level-5's Atamania series of puzzle games. Planned for release in 2010, Mystery Room became Layton Brothers: Mystery Room in 2011, and development switched from Nintendo DS to iOS.
Fans of intelligent crime investigation adventure games would have likely loved Mystery Room either way. It's one of those titles where you're face is all scrunched-up and concentrate-y, unfolding into a sly grin as you finally figure out what's going on. That's a lovely moment, and you'll get at nine of those here.
Tying the game into the popular Professor Layton series was a weird move. I understand the reasoning — Layton is a big name, likely to draw in players that would otherwise have bypassed the game completely. Who knows? Maybe the combined riddle-solving power of his legion of fans can figure out how the good professor produced such a brilliantly broken offspring.
Genre: Crime Investigation Adventure
Price: Free (Case packs $1.99 and $2.99)