Lautrec does have a lot in common with Layton. He has a young sidekick, there's a policeman trying to interrupt his investigation, the dialogue scenes look almost identical and the plot is progressed by solving puzzles.
However, the gameplay goes in a somewhat different direction. While Doctor Lautrec and his young assistant Sophie are trying to discover the hidden treasure of Louis XIV, a huge chunk of The Forgotten Knights is split into three-part missions.
First you accept a challenge, which comes with its own treasure map, and figure out the location in Paris the map relates to. Once you find the right one, you have to navigate through that location's underground maze, avoiding the police and solving puzzles to unlock doors. Finally, once you reach the treasure, you have to fight its spirit in a turn-based battle.
Frown Of The Underground
Each part develops its own problems. Finding the treasure's location inevitably involves walking to the blue areas already marked on a map of Paris, watching a cutscene in which the Doctor and Sophie decide whether it's the right place or not who then look for a little symbol if it is.
You don't get much say in trying to decipher the map and you can feel a little left out at times just watching the two of them chatting and essentially doing what should be the most interesting part of the adventure without you.
The underground sections are also underwhelming. Each maze involves the same sort of stealthy guard-dodging, block-pushing stuff, chest-finding gameplay, and by the time you've played through just a few of them it'll start to feel repetitive.
The only variation to be found is in the locked doors, each of which have a puzzle to solve in true Layton style before you can proceed. Even these start to feel samey, though as many are of the same type.
I Choose You... I Suppose
Once you make it through each dungeon you're thrown into an RPG-style turn-based battle with the spirit of the treasure. You have to use spirits and gemstones (found while exploring each dungeon) to defeat these enemies by placing them on different stone pedestals. The brief tutorial informs you that there's a strategy involved in how you place your items in relation to others, but leaves it at that, meaning many of your early battles tend to be a case of trial and error until you find something that works.
The Forgotten Knights has clearly had a lot of time, care and attention spent on it - the voice acting is top-notch, the fully 3D animated sequences are nice and there's enough content to keep you occupied for over 50 hours.
The similar puzzles we can deal with, but the refusal to let you figure out treasure maps for yourself and the deep-end dunk of the battle mode lead to more frustration than we'd have liked.
This is an edited version of a review that appears in the Christmas issue of Official Nintendo Magazine which is on sale now. For more in-depth analysis and screenshots, buy the magazine here.
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