Professor Layton Trailer Brings Back Gaming's Most Underrated Aesthetic

Keep it steamy.

Luke floors the brakes on his buggy to stop for Professor Layton

Move over, cyberpunk. Gritty streets and neon lights are played out. It’s time for a change of pace, preferably on a rickety old train with a steaming chimney. Professor Layton and the New World of Steam, the upcoming Professor Layton game for the Nintendo Switch, does just that with its setting in Steam Bison, America. (No state? No problem!)

In the Nintendo Direct trailer for the upcoming mystery game, Herschel Layton walks through stone-paved streets lined with steaming vehicles before turning to the camera to tip his signature top hat at the audience. However, we only find out the reason why he’s in this curious town in the latest trailer.

Luke Triton, the Professor’s trusty apprentice, traveled to America following the events of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. Professor Layton and the New World of Steam takes place about one year after Luke moves to America. He sends his mentor a letter about a case that only the both of them could possibly solve. Interestingly enough, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future took place in a futuristic, steampunk version of London. It could be related to the new setting.

In Professor Layton and the New World of Steam, Professor Layton and Luke deal with a technologically advanced steampunk America in the present. It’s unclear what problem Luke writes to Layton about solving, but in any case, the duo is back at it in a new adventure.

The Steampunk aesthetic is a retro-futurist take on the Victorian era and Industrial Revolution, which mashes up steam-powered trains with more fanciful fare, like sentient robots. Think Fullmetal Alchemist, Treasure Planet, and settings that have complex technology (and, sometimes, magic) without it needing to be digital.

Trains? Check. Brown steaming buildings? Check. Luke is coming in with the buggy any second.


Steampunk also takes inspiration from European culture instead of the very Asian-inspired cyberpunk genre. Clothing tends to lean into the Victorian aesthetic. Wealthier or more influential people tend to wear waistcoats, corsets, and dress shirts with puffy sleeves. Meanwhile, commoners more often wear peasant blouses, newsboy caps, and baggy brown jackets with loose collars. No flickering kanji street signs or robots with katanas here.

Now, just because the next Professor Layton game is steampunk doesn’t mean we’re going to start seeing top hats and pocket watches in every new game. However, it’s an opportunity for fans to revisit the beloved series in a more unique setting, and for newcomers to try something other than an action-packed shooter or stealth game set in a chrome city.

Professor Layton and the New World of Steam is in development for Nintendo Switch.

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