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May's Mystery: Forbidden Memories - DS Review

Game Info
May's Mystery: Forbidden Memories

DS | Red Wagon Games / V5 Play | 1 Player | Out Now
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Review
10th November 2011; By Patrick

From the second I got
May's Mystery: Forbidden Memories and looked at its Diabolical Box, I knew something was fishy. I saw a very Curious Village, and I didn't know what to make of it. I started playing it, and continued playing it until I reached the very Last Specter. Okay, all joking aside, this game is inspired by the Professor Layton series of games, to the point where many would consider it a clone. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

    Let's be clear here: I'm not reading too much into this to call it a Layton-esque game. The game is very open and shameless about where it comes from, and I appreciate that. If you're going to make an extremely similar game, at least make it a good one and take all the best parts -- and that's exactly what V5 Play did.

    The setup of the game is that May Stery and her brother, Tery Stery, are flying on a hot air balloon from their hometown of Balloonville, when they get knocked out and are separated by Dragonville. May goes into the city to look for him, and also tries to solve other mysteries along the way, including the important mystery of why there are no kids in Dragonville.

    The gameplay is interesting. May's Mystery boasts over 270 puzzles (in very large text on the boxart, I might add) split among several types. There are the typical styles of logic puzzles found in the Professor Layton games, but they have also added in two new styles of puzzles: Rhythm and Hidden Object. Hidden Object is a genre that I usually have problems with, and these puzzles are no exception. In fact, with the low resolution images on the DS, pixel-hunting is just a nightmare. Rhythm Games are much more functional, and while I typically love them, there is no major hook to these. Do not get me wrong though! These make up a very small amount of some truly fun and good puzzles.

    The puzzles themselves are split up into two wider categories: Story Puzzles and Bonus Puzzles. Bonus Puzzles are ones that you can play any time from the Pause Menu; correctly completing them earns you Hint Points (Hint Coins). Logic Puzzles have just two Hints (most of them aren't that good at all), and if you spend 15 Points (yikes!) on a puzzle, you can skip it and the world acts as if you solved it -- something I did routinely with every Hidden Object puzzle.


    As for the puzzles themselves, they seem to suffer from a problem that also plagues the dialogue: the English isn't always the best. Some puzzles make absolutely no sense, with guessing and checking becoming the only option. One feature I took for granted in the Layton games is the post-puzzle explanation, but I see it in a whole new light now as May's Mystery lacks any such feature.

    The art style takes Professor Layton's Studio Ghibli-inspired art and makes it even cuter, giving vibrant life to the environment. There are a number of animated videos, such as when you solve a puzzle or certain cutscenes. And while exploring the world has a low framerate (as shown by slow-turning windmills, etc.), the world is still a pleasure to look at.

    The music, however, is of lower quality than the art, in that not only are the original compositions not as good, but the quality of the audio files could use a bit of work as well. The voice acting is fine, although only a few characters ever ending up having spoken dialogue.

    Please don't take these criticisms the wrong way! May's Mystery is not a bad game, from its music to voice acting, from its art style to wide puzzle variety. The only thing these criticisms all summarize is that while it's a fun game, it is not as great as a Layton game, which I don't think it is trying to be. The way I look at it, this is a game for those that love the Professor Layton series and need something to play when there's not a new Layton game out, and that's what this does accomplish. I only hope that sometime in the Unwound Future, there will be another one that can fix some of the smaller flaws this game has.


22/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Professor Layton style, most puzzles are good, English sometimes poor and misleading, Hidden Object and Rhythm puzzles not that great
Presentation 7/10 - Art style beautiful with several animated videos, framerate drops, music good but worse than art, low-quality audio, nice voice acting
Enjoyment 4/5 - Good substitute for a Professor Layton adventure, able to skip puzzles, many different types of puzzles
Extra Content 4/5 - Over 270 puzzles in all, not all good but most are enjoyable, Bonus Puzzles are available to let you earn hint points

Equivalent to a score of 73% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System


Review by Patrick



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