Everything in May’s Mysteries is right out of the Professor Layton
series, from the animated introductory video clips, to the French-tinged
soundtrack, and even to how the font style, puzzle appearance and menu layout
are almost identical. Whilst Bandai Namco’s Treasure Report on DS and
Konami’s Doctor Lautrec on 3DS have been classed as being extremely
similar to Level-5’s masterful multi-million-selling series of puzzle
adventures, neither of those are so blatant as this effort from developer V5
Play. However, is it necessarily a negative point to be so alike a franchise
everyone knows and loves? Obviously the level of quality is imperative to
prevent poor comparisons, and so far it looks like May’s Mysteries: The
Secret of Dragonville passes that particular test with flying colours.
In terms of what brain-teasers are on offer, there are several different
types, such as the ‘Write Answer’ one where the correct solution must be written
via the touch-screen (with impressive hand-writing recognition). Another example
is ‘Rhythm Games’ where a melody must be listened to and repeated back by
tapping on the touch-screen in the same pattern, as well as holding or even
sliding the stylus around. Whilst rudimentary sounding, the inclusion of such
reactionary trials is surprisingly refreshing, adding a new element to the
prevalent genre. There are even Hidden Object areas, where the stylus is used to
scroll around a specific location, seeking out items listed on the top screen.
Other examples include sliding tile efforts and tick-box multiple choice ones.
There are more than 270 puzzles and mini-games set across 80 mysterious
locations, with around 50 intriguing characters to interact with across four
varied worlds, with the aim of the adventure being to help lead character May
find her brother who is missing following a pleasant hot-air balloon ride that
With over seven minutes of animated cinematic
sequences to drive the story along, May must travel around, solving conundrums
and bringing together all the pieces of the puzzle to unravel the Secret of
Dragonville. The entire journey is set to last around 25 hours, with plenty
of diversity included and enough varied challenge to appeal to all sectors of
the gaming community, with a complementary hint system that guides players
through trickier puzzles, and the ability to even skip certain ones for the
sacrifice of a large number of hint points.
Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville is so much like a mirror-image of
Professor Layton that kudos must actually go to the developers for first
of all having the guts to make a clear-cut copy like this (even the sequence for
when an answer to a puzzle has been submitted is indistinguishable!), but
secondly for pulling it off so smoothly and not merely churning out some
half-baked effort to cash-in on the Professor Layton success story
without making strides to ensure the quality of the game is high. Mixing
together traditional logic puzzles, a healthy dose of adventuring, hidden object
elements and even rhythm-based trials is no mean feat, but V5 Play has pulled it
off and the final product cannot come soon enough.
May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville is due for release in Europe this
coming August, but the version Cubed3 played was pretty much finished and it is
already clear that this does indeed have a strong chance of tapping into the
Professor Layton market share before the fourth game in Level-5’s series arrives
towards the end of 2011.