IGN Preview of Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights
The critically acclaimed Professor Layton franchise is getting competition this year from Konami. While the Professor wanders around the world with his silly little English assistant, Dr. Lautrec is busy hunting down treasure and fighting enemy spirits with his own witty helper. Dr. Lautrec may use his brains like Layton, solving puzzles that challenge our logic and intellect, but he's also not afraid to throw a punch.
Dr. Lautrec and the Forgotten knights is a adventure game, wherein you play as the titular Dr. Lautrec. Together with his charming, young assistant, Dr. Lautrec explores the world and solves puzzles in an effort to find treasure animatis (living treasure). This treasure allows him to harness spirits that he can use to fight his enemies.
Exploration in Dr. Lautrec is done by running an avatar around an environment, much akin to a classic RPG. Eventually the doctor will come upon a part of the environment that triggers a puzzle, starting a mini-game. Solving the puzzles -- which I'm told range from logic puzzles to word games and more -- gives the Doc new treasure.
Treasure does more than line your pockets, though. In Dr. Lautrec you'll find treasure animatis, possessed artifacts that allow you to summon spirits to fight for you. Combat is turn-based, and the doctor chooses from a selection of treasure animatis and then deploys it onto the battlefield. He has a limited number of deployment spots, and thus has to choose which spirits he uses carefully. Additionally, deployment spots are sometimes cracked. Cracked spots are still usable, but are risky because they're unpredictable; sometimes they might give you a huge bonus, other times they might make your spirit weaker.
Combat sets Dr. Lautrec apart from the Professor Layton franchise, but the aesthetic can't help but make me feel like it's drawing more than a little inspiration from Nintendo's popular franchise. The cut scenes and presentation are so similar to Professor Layton that I had to look up who designed Dr. Lautrec just to make sure it wasn't the same team. I am OK with there being more puzzle adventure games in the world, but stylistically it seems like Konami is setting itself up for a tough comparison. Just a quick search on the Internet proves that my sentiments are not alone.
As I started to type out this conclusion paragraph I accidentally started to write Professor Layton before I had to quickly delete it. You see, I was actually meaning to type Dr. Lautrec but my mind is so mixed up between these two franchises that I've become easily confused. Heck, maybe that's exactly what Konami wants. Hopefully the combat can set it apart, but I see an uphill battle for the bold new Dr. Lautrec.