Games have been an important part of human history. From ancient to modern times, games have evolved to reflect the values, culture and lives of the people who created and played games. For me, games have been a way to learn, explore and create things in a way I was not able to with other forms of media. Because of this, I decided to ask other students about the games that have been impactful on their lives as a way of encouraging others to engage with this media.
“Professor Layton” were the first words out of Cade Braynen’s mouth when we sat down. I had prompted them about what our conversation would entail, but before I even had a chance to ask my first question, they had enthusiastically declared the game — actually, the series of games — we would go on to talk about.
Braynen is a senior piano performance student who is currently the Residence Life Manager of Gaming House. They also participate in Colores and are a CORE Leader this year. They have been playing games from the “Professor Layton” series for eight years now. “Professor Layton is known as a puzzle solver and he is called by different people in different times to help people in their town,” Braynen said, describing the games. “[Professor Layton] and his apprentice Luke will be called to help and solve those issues.” To give a little more context, Professor Layton is a series of puzzle-adventure video games developed by Level-5. The protagonist is none other than Professor Hershel Layton himself and his trusty assistant Luke Triton. Each game brings a new world with a whole new group of mysteries that the Professor and Triton go off to try and solve. The series has been going on for twelve years now, as the first installment of the game, “Professor Layton and the Curious Village,” was released in 2007. This is also the game Braynen got into back in Dec. 2010 when they were gifted it at Christmas from their parents.
Braynen described their experience with these games as “really relaxing and charming.” “I feel like I can play these games for hours,” they said. “I am very connected to the characters and the story. It feels like I, this human outside of this [virtual] world, am part of this world and trying to help solve these problems.” The appeal of the visual animation and the easygoing story drew them in eight years ago and they have kept playing each main series release of the game since.
Another reason Braynen really enjoys these games is the music. “The music is also a big part of it too,” they said. “There are really interesting instrumentals in the background.” They continued, “There is different music during different puzzles, different music in intense plot moments. Those also really excite me and get me into playing these games.” We went and listened to “The Curious Village: Main Theme” and Braynen lit up with excitement. “It sounds better than I remembered,” they remarked, probably because it was coming from laptop speakers, much better than the speakers of a Nintendo DS. The quick-moving melody that switches between instruments, upbeat nature and light use of accordion, all of this and more from the music really sets the stage for the game, according to Braynen.
At the close of our discussion, Braynen commented on how new players should go about engaging this series: “You really should start with the first game. The story is not super important to the overall game, but it is very cute.” They continued, “The further back you go, the more you learn about these characters and the more you get engaged with the story. Plus, then you get to do all of the puzzles which are annoying but good.” When asked about the difficulty of the puzzles, they replied, “Some are easy, and some are challenging. You’ve just got to keep trying, maybe put it down and come back to it, or have a friend take a look.”
All the “Professor Layton” series is available for purchase and play on the Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, Android and iOS. Braynen hopes that others will give this “adorable little puzzle game” a chance. For now, they will continue to play this series as they have for years, curled up on a sofa for hours on end.