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Video Game / Layton Brothers: Mystery Room

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Alfendi: I couldn't agree more. It's a highly inefficient name. That's why I prefer to call it... the Mystery Room.

Layton Brothers: Mystery Room is a puzzle Visual Novel for the iOS and Android, created by Level 5 and released in 2013. A spinoff to the Professor Layton game series, the game focuses on Professor Hershel Layton's son, Inspector Alfendi Layton, and his young assistant, Detective Constable Lucy Baker, who solve seemingly-impossible murder cases for the Scotland Yard. It received an ongoing manga adaptation in December of 2021, under the title of Layton Brothers: Mystery Room Kanzen Hanzai no Puzzle ("Perfect Crime Puzzle").

Layton Brothers, unlike the other, more puzzle-oriented entries in the main franchise, plays much more like a visual novel. The game is played in a semi-episodic format, consisting of a number of cases which each take roughly half an hour to an hour to finish. A case typically — but not always — consists of alternating phases of crime scene investigation, questioning of one or more suspects, and discussing inconsistencies, and in many ways resembles a game from the Ace Attorney franchise, as everything is tied together with dialogue.

The first two cases are available for free, while subsequent case bundles need to be purchased.

This game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abandoned Warehouse: The crime scene in case 006 is ostensibly a warehouse, although the Mafia has redecorated it to the point of being almost cozy.
  • Absence of Evidence: Including the common lack of fingerprints as proof of a surface being wiped down.
  • Accidental Murder: Case 003, via Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon; the prop was switched for a real weapon prior to a performance, leading to the death of the actress.
  • Aerith and Bob: The main characters, Alfendi Layton and Lucy Baker.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Multiple characters use this, but it is especially common in the little arrow comments. Also the nicknames for Alfendi: Potty Prof and Placid Prof.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: One character makes suggestions about Lucy possibly having feelings for Alfendi that are not returned. She denies this claim vehemently. Some of the suspects' motives fall along the lines of this trope as well.
  • Always Murder: Only rarely does this not come into play. The victim in Case 003 planned their own suicide in the form of an elaborate murder.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Averted. Unlike his father, Alfendi is an actual Inspector working at Scotland Yard.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Given the largely absent radar, this trope is a bit questionable. In the case of Randal Mann, the only thing retaining ambiguity is the fact he is never directly referred to as gay.
  • And the Adventure Continues: After Alfendi tells Lucy how he got brainwashed and his "nice persona" came to be, she points out it's a new mystery, and finishes with "...we just can't let it be!" After Al tries to hide behind paperwork, she tells him "It's a cracking day out there! Perfect weather for solving mysteries!" Which leads her to pushing Al outside into the open Real World and out of the Mystery Room. As well as the Commissioner calling "Hershel" at the end.
  • Anime Hair: Alfendi's gravity-defying ponytail and not-quite Idiot Hair.
  • Arc Words: It's "4 years ago", referring to the murder of Keelen Makepeace at Forbodium Castle.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: Not in comparison to other games in the series but in comparison in the app games in general.
  • Asshole Victim: Has a fair share of them, with the blatant ones being the mafia victims.
  • Beneath the Mask: Most of the murderers, especially the villain of Case File 005, Mike de Bonair, who seems perfectly friendly but is in fact smug, snarky, and cold-hearted. Also ultimately subverted with the Prof himself, since it's made clear that Placid and Potty are two completely separate personalities and not him hiding his true self.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Of course, as the story is made up of individual cases, there isn't a single clear cut antagonist, but two are present for multiple cases over the course of the story: Diane Makepeace, daughter of ruthless serial killer and assassin Keelan Makepeace, and Justin Lawson, who manipulated Keelan and in the end caused the deaths of thirteen people.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Many of the guilty suspects.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Some of the murders are surprisingly gruesome, considering the cutesy art style of the game's generally family-friendly parent series. Case 4 stands out in particular: its victim was killed by having an axe lodged into his forehead, drenching the crime scene in blood; a shockingly brutal death even by the standards of most other murder mystery works.
  • Book Ends: Subverted, fortunately with Case 9.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Alfendi Layton, somewhat.
  • Captain Obvious: Some of the statements made by Lucy border on this.
    Lucy: I'm sorry for pointing out the obvious!
  • Character Tic: Alfendi's poses are different when confronting a suspect. 'Other' Alfendi has very different poses than the normal Alfendi.
  • Continuity Nod: The nod to the Professor Layton games are Alfendi mentioning his father being a professor and the Commissioner being Inspector Barton who even calls Hershel at the end of Case 09. A nod to this game as acknowledged canon now happened with Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy where Katrielle writes Lucy letters and asks her about her brother Alfendi in her last letter.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The big mystery of the first case is that the victim was found with her hand inside her sandwich. At first it appears to be a dying message, as with her hand where it is among the ingredients, the first letter of each spells out "PHELPS", the misspelled name of her lover. The fact it's misspelled sets of a major red flag for Alfendi and Lucy that it's fake. Turns out that this was faked by the real killer who. on top of just trying to frame the boyfriend, used the dying message as a diversion for the real reason he put the victim's hand in the sandwich.
  • Cute and Psycho: 'Other' Alfendi.
    • Diana Makepeace also counts.
    • Thanks to the whispers of his fiancee, Chico Careta can count too.
  • Darker and Edgier: Much more than the main Professor Layton, very much so. Bloodless Carnage is averted, even if it isn't realistic. The villains are cruel murderers, including two Serial Killers, rather than Anti Villains. Alfendi, the deuteragonist, has a rather dark Split Personality.
    • Also, The Walking Corpse starts off a lot darker than the cases you tackle leading up to it. The tone of the music in Lucy's intro for it doesn't help, either.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both of the main characters have their moments.
  • Dying Clue:
    • Case 001 has one in the form of the victim's hand stuck in a sandwich. Subverted in that it turns out the clue was left by the murderer to create a fake reason for the hand sandwich and cast suspicion on one of the other suspects.
    • In Case 005, there is one with the broken perfume bottle broken by the tea lady.
    • In Case 006, one of the victims had crushed the jigsaw puzzle piece planted on him, which proves that he wasn't asleep when killed, unlike the others.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Diane Makepeace.
  • Expressive Hair: The only changes between normal and 'Other' Alfendi are this and a change of body language.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Several cases employ this in varying degrees.
  • Fatal Method Acting: An in-universe example, where Gloria Blaise was killed onstage by a Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon. When her future husband cheated on her with another actress, she plotted to ruin him by making her Driven to Suicide death look instead like a murder with him holding the weapon in front of many witnesses. He didn't help himself when he tried to frame a stagehand of her death, and in a post-credits scene, he's reduced to picking up trash while the stagehand is now acting in a production with the actress he'd had the affair with.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One of the first things stated in the first case is "Potty Prof" stating that he is responsible for killing him.
    • Lucy asks what would happen if "Other" Alfendi were to show up without a criminal around.
    • Justin explains that "Potty Prof" usually only comes out when in front of a truly devious murderer.
    • The name of the game itself comes off as a Non-Indicative Name at first until you realize it's actually being symbolic instead of literal, as it foreshadows the fact that the titular character has two personalities (and thus, is essentially two different people living in the same body).
  • First-Episode Twist: The fact that Alfendi has a darker Split Personality is revealed partway through Chapter 2. "Potty Prof" becomes very important to the story from thereon.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: The (accidental) killer in one case actually does this to point suspicion to the person that orchestrated the murder. He was wrong.
  • Funny Animal: Mocked with the suspects in Case 008. A recreation of an unsolved case involving the victim and all the suspects had them wear animal masks by Diane Makepeace. The suspects often used dialogue related to what they are so for example, Dog would use the idiom "barking up the wrong tree".
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Alfendi and Lucy both use this at times during the conclusion of the case. Strangely, they seem to use a Finger Gun instead of a simple point.
  • Gold Digger: A few of these appear, or appear to be, such as Goldie Potsby-Mahn.
  • Harsh Word Impact: A regular feature of interrogations is arrows with snarky comments shooting back and forth between Layton and Lucy on one side and a suspect on the other.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In one case, the killer's attempts to show evidence pointing to another suspect result in the slip.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Or rather, the container the poison was in was too shattered to be identified.
  • Idiot Ball: Lucy receives it in at least one conclusion, allowing Alfendi (or rather, his Split Personality) to step in.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • The game gradually subverts this as certain key interface elements (such as the culprit's 'heart' meter) pop up early as if to point you in the right direction, only to string you along in future cases
    • One late case also inverts this by using the interface to obscure the most important clue to the investigation, since there are several clues, with the key one among them, that you can gather later on that aren't, and are never, marked as areas of interest with a dotted line.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Alfendi's situation is called such by Lucy, though he claims it's an overstatement. As some of the examples on this page show: it's not much of one. The later cases also make it less clear which one is really the Jekyll and which one is really the Hyde. At one point, the placid Alfendi insisted he was the real Alfendi Layton. In the final case, it's confirmed that his psycho personality is the original.
  • Karma Houdini: Case 004 ends with the main characters figuring out who the true culprit is only to find out they have escaped before they could be apprehended. Subverted later on, however, when she is killed by Justin Lawson.
  • Kick the Dog: Happens with some of the culprits, who are given particular moments where they're shown how horrible they truly are to make them particularly detestable Keys examples include:
    • Goldie, who gets a "new man" while her husband's murder is still being investigated that she literally treats like a dog, complete with a leash (although it seems to be consensual). She even brings him into her interrogation, prompting Alfendi to ask her "friend" to wait outside. Later in her interrogation, she starts going on about how she's owed the insurance money from her late-husband's death and it's gonna make her loaded. Lucy becomes particularly irate at how she seems to care more about the money than the fact her husband was killed. Then she turns out to be the killer.
    • Strapping already had an affair on his to-be wife, Gloria. After Gloria ends up getting shot dead, he seems more interested in flirting with the detective constable to investigate her death than he does anything else, which he does, many times, and every time said detective constable, aka Lucy, tries shooting him down. The actual kick the dog moment though, comes when the truth behind Gloria's death is revealed, something that makes even Strapping himself distraught: her heart was broken due to the affair, so she killed herself in an elaborate suicide.
    • De Bonair, on top of killing a popular radio DJ, murdered a completely innocent 18 year old woman to boot. The case wastes no time empathizing that said woman was at the happiest moment of her entire life at the moment when he went and murdered her out of nowhere, and how terrifying it must've been for her. The kick the dog moment comes after his guilt has been thoroughly established, when Alfendi asks him if he even knows the name of the woman he murdered. He gets it wrong. Lucy is not happy at this, and says that he really is a total scumbag.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In case 08, Lucy prove that "Dog" hid the body of "Pig" by hanging him from his coat on a hat stand while facing backwards from the door, so it looked like it was just his coat hanging up. If you pay attention to the arrow comments at that moment they're literally telling the player to suspend their disbelief, which also does the double duty of being a pun.
  • Locked Room Mystery: Case 004 involves a murder in a locked hut with a special key to the door. The killer hid in the room until someone else opened it from the outside by breaking the lock.
    • The mafia case is also one until you find out that one of the victims was the killer who then locked himself in when he got attacked himself.
  • Ludicrous Precision: Alfendi is able to give the exact probability that a suspect committed the crime.
    Lucy: You only work to one decimal place? I'm shocked.
  • Malicious Misnaming: The killer, Mike de Bonair, in case 005, calling Alfendi "Lameton" among other names during the conclusion. Alfendi corrects them a couple times, but stops once it's made obvious the suspect is doing it on purpose. 'Other' Alfendi is not amused, threatening to cut out his tongue if he intentionally misnames him again. Once he's back to his normal self, Alfendi returns the favor, causing the suspect to protest with his real name.
  • Mood Whiplash: Anytime 'Other' Alfendi appears, the game gets much darker.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Layton Brothers is only about one Layton brother, though he does mention the existence of the other one. This is subverted once you realise that the name of the game itself is symbolic and foreshadows the existence of Alfendi's second personality.
  • Notice This: Provided you've zoomed in enough, evidence is shown highlighted. A checkmark appears when you have investigated all of it available in a particular section of the scene. The main challenge is figuring out what evidence is actually relevant. Subverted in case 009, where the final part of the investigation involves finding something that is NOT part of the highlighted evidence, and the game does not indicate when you have found what you need. This serves to make the final case much harder than the rest of the game. YMMV on whether this is a good thing.
  • Punny Name: Dear lord, this game could rival Ace Attorney in the Punny Name department. These include Dustin Scowers, a janitor, and Micah Sasucasa, a hotel owner. Many of these overlap with Meaningful Name.
  • Red Herring: Many times, a suspect is focused on early in the case only to discover there's another person that planned the murder. Also, many of the innocent characters' profiles make it look like they have a good motive to kill the victim.
  • Sequel Hook: The ending still leaves a few unresolved questions, such as what's going to happen with Alfendi's twin personalities and what Justin Lawson's motives were, as well as a fairly obvious and squee-inducing hook from the commissioner talking about possibly calling for Hershel Layton's help with a mysterious endeavor. We also never actually meet the real second Layton brother, and although it's minor, the exact motive for the very first case is never fully disclosed — the victim seems to have been squeezing the culprit for money, but we never find out on what basis.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The game uses beautiful music, but sometimes it doesn't seem to fit the murders.
  • Spin-Offspring: The deuteragonist of the game, Alfendi Layton, is the son of Professor Hershel Layton, the protagonist of the Professor Layton series of games.
  • Spiteful Suicide: One of the cases has the victim make their lover shoot them to death as punishment for their unfaithfulness.
  • Split Personality: Alfendi has a calm, rational "Placid Prof" side and a manic, emotional "Potty Prof" side. The "Potty Prof" Hilda said was closer to the original Alfendi Layton, while the "Placid Prof" came about from Justin's brainwashing him while in a coma.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: There are a couple of times where the player must rule out the obviously wrong answers.
    • Case 08 also has Lucy first state the glaringly wrong suspect as the murder before the game lets the player choose a suspect.
  • Super Move Portrait Attack: Used at times in conclusions, and when 'Other' Alfendi appears. There is one in File No. 009 for the normal Alfendi appearing.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: In Case 001, telling the murderer that the one who committed the crime was the innocent suspect (who the murderer hadn't been trying to frame) results in them being stumped, but agreeing with it.
  • Tempting Fate: Lucy really should have known better than to mention that 'Other' Alfendi hadn't appeared during one case.
  • The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House: The threatening fax message was sent from inside the radio studio.
  • This Cannot Be!: Near the end, when 'Other Alfendi' tells how Justin's using "a cheap and nasty book" to brainwash him so the Alfendi that Lucy works with appears throughout most of the game, he adds, "Look at what I'm made of! A trashy schoolboy guide to mind games! No! It cannot be. Agh, stupid book! it couldn't unhinge me. I'm a great mind! A thinker! I do the Times One!"
  • Title Drop: See the page quote for the first example in the game. Other characters repeatedly refer to Alfendi's office as the Mystery Room as well.
  • Tongue Trauma: 'Other' Alfendi threatens to cut out someone's tongue more than once.
  • Try Everything: Thankfully, the game does not have any penalty for giving the wrong response which means that this is a fallback option.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Chico Careta is quickly revealed to have been this in Case 004, as he is the killer but insists that it was the demon who told him to do it. As a matter of fact, it was his betrothed, Mariana Etista. Subverted in that Alfendi suggests he wasn't as unwitting as he appeared, since he surely would have recognized his own beloved's voice and known it was her giving him orders.
  • Wham Line: Serves as one in-universe as well, with Lucy shown to be shaken by the comment once the case has finished: 'Other' Alfendi says to the suspect and Lucy, "Listen to you two, yapping like dogs. Am I going to have to cut out your tongues to get you to shut up?"
    • In File No. 005, there's one with the tea lady, being a suspect of the case, found murdered and believed to be murderer of the first victim by the police.
    • In File No. 009, Hilda tells Lucy that 'Potty Prof' is actually the original personality, or at least closer to the Al she knew.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: Replaying certain cases means going along with the initial theories until the truth is 'supposed' to be found.

Alternative Title(s): Layton Brothers