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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 went awry.


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.

Presentation-wise, May’s 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.


Currently, 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.


Post Wed, 14 Sep 2011 05:55:38
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