We all love a good puzzle, don’t we? And with the next Professor Layton game not out for a while, May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville, from developers V5 Studio Play, is the perfect game to fill your puzzle-solving void. There are a lot of interesting and humourous characters to meet, a plethora of colourful, and beautifully hand-drawn, locations to travel to, and not forgetting some rather excellent puzzles too.
The opening cutscene introduces you to May and her younger brother, Tery, who are travelling in their hot air balloon, which before too long ends up crashing not far from the titular town of Dragonville. May wakes up to find her brother has gone to the town to try and find help. This is where the adventure begins for our dynamic duo. Anyone who has played the Professor Layton games will immediately feel at home with this title. The story is told through animated cutscenes, and during gameplay you will meet the quirky cast of characters. As you make your way through the town, gaps in your knowledge of the locals and the story will be filled.
Navigating the game is incredibly simple, yet effective. On the top DS screen you will find your map, and on the touch screen you have a rucksack and compass at your disposal. Tapping the compass will give you arrows directing you to your next puzzle or point of interest, while your rucksack allows you to save your progress, go back over old puzzles and take on bonus puzzles too.
May’s Mysteries approaches the puzzles in a slightly different way to the Professor Layton titles. Sometimes you need to go off and explore the town to find out some more details before tackling the puzzle, whereas in Layton you just solve them on the spot. There are also a whopping 270 puzzles to keep your brain busy, making it potentially more brain-busting than any of Layton’s outings to date. There are riddle and maths brain teasers, rythmn games as well as hidden picture puzzles. The fact there is such a range to both the puzzle styles, and gameplay mechanics used, means you’ll unlikrly find yourself becoming bored of repetitive puzzles.
The difficulty chops and changes quite freqently too. One moment you think you are coasting along with a relativley easy rythmn game, and the next you are hit with a really difficult maths puzzle or riddle. At the beginning of the game you are given 30 hint points to use, and each puzzle allows you to use two hint points to help you. If you are really stuck and decide to skip the puzzle, you’ll need to sacrifice 15 of your precious hint points. When you need more points, you can try and solve some bonus puzzles that reward you with five hint points every time you solve one.
May’s Mysteries hits the nail on the head with its presentation; a great deal of attention has been put into the backgrounds, the characters as well as the fully-voiced cutscenes. The accompanying soundtrack gives the game a real sense of charm, and is perfect to blend into the background while you attempt some puzzle-solving.
This game is perfect for friends and family, and you’ll probably clock up about 25 hours of gameplay if you want to find all the hidden bonus puzzles, which is brilliant value for money. You’ll compare it to the Professor Layton games, but May’s Mysteries is more than capable of holding its own.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: Nintendo DS Release Date: 12/08/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of May’s Mysteries for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on a Nintendo DS. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.