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Nov 27, 2008 ~ 9 min read

Traveling through time to solve a mistery

#Layton #time machines #video game

Professor Layton and the Lost Future (or Unwound Future for Americans) is a puzzle-solving / adventure game developed by Level-5 and released in October 2010 in Europe.

In this third game of the Professor Layton series, Layton and Luke receive a letter from Future Luke 10 years from their present time, warning them that London has been thrown into chaos, and he asks for their help. To get to him they must travel through time by going to a clock shop and travel to the future.
Layton believes this mystery is linked to an event that happened a week ago, where the Prime minister and a scientist obsessed with time traveling, entered a “time machine” that exploded when activated.
They then decide to head to this shop, and when the owner leads them into the back room, they find an enormous clock, the owner activates it, and after a moment, they find themselves in the future London.

After exploring the town a bit, they meet with Future Luke in the casino, challenging them with a puzzle, to prove their identities (this often happens in the different Layton games).
He then proceeds to explain how London has changed, stating that an evil genius has overthrown the government and is now ruling the town. And this evil character is none other than the Future Professor Layton.

Layton and Luke get out of the casino and explore the town more. A postman by the name of Shipley explains that the Future Layton has a base in the Towering Pagoda in Chinatown, but that it is heavily guarded. The two gentlemen, unable to enter Chinatown, travel back to the present as Future Luke told them to do.

Back in the present, Professor Layton and Luke find Flora, and the young girl is upset that the two went on another adventure without them (just like in Pandora’s Box). But Layton, not wanting to involve her in dangerous actions, flees with Luke when she’s absent. They go to Scotland yard and ask to see the files of the Time Machine incident that happened a week ago. After examining the case, Layton is convinced that the two incidents are linked, and that the Prime Minister is held captive in the future, and they head straight to the clock shop to go back to the future.

But just as they’re about to travel, Inspector Chelmey, suspicious of Layton’s actions, enters the room with his assistant Barton, followed by Flora, enraged that the two left without her.
The owner activates the machine, and the five go to the Future.
Chelmey and Barton, astonished by this new town, decide to investigate on their own, while Flora stays with Luke and Hershel. The three meet up with Future Luke, who has a plan to enter Chinatown. They all infiltrate, but cannot meet the Future Layton, as he is currently away. They learn that he likes to walk by the Thames, and head on to a restaurant called the “Thames arms”, where the bartender tells them he just served a man with a top hat like Layton’s.

They rush back to Chinatown, now allowed to see the Future Layton, who turns out to be the scientist from the incident that happened a week before they received the letter!
His name is Dimitri Allen, and he reveals that he pretended to be Future Layton to Lure Layton to the future London, because he wants to use his memories to travel back in time to his first project, a time machine on which he worked with Claire, Layton’s sweetheart, before she died in an accident during this project, as to destroy it to save her.
They manage to escape, but Dimitri still holds the Prime Minister, Bill Hawks, hostage.

The group continues to investigate, searching a way across the Thames. A lady named Margaret tells them about a secret tunnel that can help them.
When they enter the tunnel, it is partially flooded, which reminds them that they have seen multiple times a man in a lab coat with his shoes wet, who probably often goes through this tunnel. On the other side, they arrive in a time machine facility, but after exploring a bit, the group is found by Dimitri’s goons. Thankfully, a young woman named Celeste, helps them escape the facility, introducing herself as Claire’s sister; she also wants to know the truth about what happened after the incident. Unfortunately, the goons find them again and the group is forced to split, but decide to meet back at the Thame’s arms
When Luke asks what happened to Claire, Layton explains that during the incident, Claire died, but the explosion of the lab also caused damage to a building nearby, destroying flats and injuring many people. Layton remembers saving a young child who just lost his parents in the fire of the explosion. But he couldn’t do more research on the incident, as the government tried to hide the case and repressed him when he tried to look deeper into it.

The group then goes back to the Thames arms, the meeting point where they find Celeste, Future Luke and the bartender. But Layton has already figured out all the mysteries. This town isn’t Future London, but a giant town under the actual London, that is accessed by a giant elevator, that is the back room of the clock shop.The bartender unmasks himself and tells the entire story, he worked ten years ago with Claire and Bill Hawks on an experiment, a time machine, but it failed and accidentally killed Celeste. Bill Hawks still gained a lot of money and became prime minister, but Dimitri, obsessed with time traveling, wanted to build a machine to stop this incident.
Layton then reveals to Dimitri that the evil wasn’t him, but was actually Future Luke, a boy named Clive who lost his parents in the explosion of the machine ten years ago. Adopted by a wealthy woman, he built “Future London” to plan his revenge.
Clive decides to kidnap Flora and flees to his villain fortress that was hidden in the river.

Layton Luke and Celeste enter the fortress to rescue Flora and Bill hawks, and decide to destroy this enormous and dangerous machine.
They flee with the Layton mobile, who now has a built in propeller that helps them escape, but Celeste implores Layton to save Clive from his own machine.

When everyone is safe, Clive thanks Layton for saving him a second time from his insanity, just like he did ten years ago when his parents died in the incident. Dimitri explains to Layton that Claire doesn’t have a any siblings and Celeste is actually Claire herself, it seems the machine did work and sent Claire ten years in the future before exploding, but isn’t able to support her any longer in the present and has to go back to the past, at the moment of the blast. Dimitri tells her he had been trying to rebuild a time machine to save her, and Claire tells him to stop, and that it’s dangerous to mess with time.
Claire has to go back to her time, she kisses Layton one last goodbye and disappears in the dark of the night. Layton just stands without a word, heartbroken that Claire is gone again…

Time traveling in this game is explained in a rather unpredictable way, we aren’t actually time traveling, but it seems like it as everything tells us that we actually made a trip to the future with this strange machine, with the Future Luke & Layton and London being unrecognizable because the town is in chaos. It’s all pretty darn well dressed up to make the player believe our adventure actually happens at two different times, when it’s all just happening at two different spaces.

At the same time, the appearance of Claire towards the end of the game shows us that this game still contains time traveling and some mystery (thankfully), but that really adds another layer to the game, and creates an ending scene like no other.

This also allows us to think about the consequences of time traveling; Claire had to go back to the past because she could not stay in the future, but what if she actually could ? What would her life be like, having missed ten years ? And who would she be in the eyes of society ? A dead woman that is just back to life ? Or on another hand, what if Dimitri succeeded in building a time machine and actually prevented the incident ? All this adventure we have gone through would never have happened, and our main character’s life would have been very changed, possibly creating a time paradox (which I won’t go into).

This game offers such a good story and leaves us on edge with its ending, making us ponder on alternate timelines and time traveling, without having to think too hard about it.

Professor Layton and the Lost Future is my favorite Layton game, the puzzles are sometimes challenging but overall fun and really fit in the story, a story that I personally find one of the best out of all Layton’s games. The design of Future London is great and the characters are interesting. The music is high quality and the game is filled with small motion videos to explain what happened in the past or for the epilogue. The game contains over 150 puzzles that all have their own difficulty, concept and solutions and are (for the majority) satisfying to solve.

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