Preview: Doctor Lautrec looks like Layton, plays less so

July 19, 2011

If you’ve ever played a Professor Layton game and thought to yourself that the game would be much cooler if Layton had a mustache, Luke was a girl, and Layton and Luke sometimes engaged in some turn-based combat, then… wow. You have quite the imagination. Also, Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights is the perfect game for you.

Dr. Lautrec is a french archeologist, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Professor Layton, right up to his top hat. He and his assistant Sophie, who looks and acts like a female Luke, come into possession of a treasure map that leads to a lost treasure of King Louis XIV, only to be pursued by the french police, including a detective who bears a strong resemblance to Inspector Chelmey, a crime syndicate, and a forgotten order of Knights.

In our demo, Dr. Lautrec and Sophie were in the Paris catacombs, on the search for “treasure animatis,” or treasures that are possessed of spirits. The treasures aren’t there just to be collected, they are also used in the board-game like turn-based combat sections of the game. In combat, there are various positions on the screen upon which you can place the various treasures you’ve collected. Each position grants the treasure animatis various benefits or drawbacks, so a sound strategy is a must for winning these battles. When exploring, you’ll actually move Dr. Lautrec around from an isometric perspective, rather than the point-and-click gameplay of Professor Layton. And the puzzles? Some of them are environmental puzzles, while others are word games, logic-puzzles, and even riddles.

Dr. Lautrec looks promising enough that it’s almost a shame that it looks so heavily similar to Professor Layton. It’s bound to be dismissed out of hand, by a number of people, as simply a Layton knockoff, when it simply isn’t. Time will tell how well this game will do, but based on what we’ve seen so far, we’ve got high hopes for it when it arrives this fall on the 3DS.