I don't understand how there are four people listed in the credits for puzzle design. There are barely more than 30. And like in the first game, the puzzles are a completely unmemorable mish-mash (often poorly explained) that could easily have been cobbled together (the design, not the implementation) in an afternoon. I get the feeling that the designers might think that because they have no trouble solving puzzles like the ones in the Layton series, it ought to be no sweat making some of their own. But that's not the case. There's a skill to making simple puzzles and brainteasers. Without that skill, they've ended up producing another assortment of cribbed and recycled ideas, which are all back-of-the-cereal box easy. Not fun.
Full marks for atmosphere and graphics, but I get the impression that that was their main consideration at the expense of everything else. The writing was ho-hum, and the pacing of the story was dreadful: I don't mind surreal stories, but if you're going to have a thriller (style) plot that deliberately makes no sense, the one thing you can't do is navel-gaze. After almost every scene Nelson recaps the scene we just saw into his tape-recorder. This would be fine if he had some new insight to offer, but he just recaps the action, meaning that we basically have to endure each plot point twice in quick succession. This would make sense in a much longer game, when you might expect the players to take breaks, play in many sessions, and require reminders about what they might have forgotten; but I just played through in one sitting of about two and a half hours, so it was tedious. I don't understand how the previous reviewer managed to stretch the experience out to 5 - 7 hours. I didn't skip any dialogue and missed only one puzzle.
Everything in the gameplay works against enjoying the story. Because it's so linear, and the conclusions Nelson draws are so dubious (because he's going mad, I know, but I'm not, so there's a disconnect there) there's no sense that it feels like we're investigating anything. And a lot of the puzzles were very tenuously linked with the plot. (I don't mind that per se, but if the puzzle isn't integrated with the story then it should be good. I'm happy to accept poor puzzles that are well-integrated, or great puzzles that are shoehorned in, but here we've got the worst of both worlds.) Pretty much all the interactivity feels like a chore to be endured to get to trigger the next cutscene. If you'd rather the game was a video then something's gone drastically wrong. And I don't think this is just an unavoidable feature of the genre: the Professor Layton games are amongst my favourite.
It's a real shame, because a well-executed version of this would be basically my dream game.