Professor Layton and the Last Specter is the fourth Professor Layton game to be released, but the story is the first episode in the Layton saga. The first three games acted as a trilogy. Professor Layton and the Last Specter pre-dates those games, taking fans of the Professor Layton series back to the beginning.

The Professor Layton series is known for engaging the player with many types of puzzles, which are tightly integrated into the story line. Players solve brainteasers and puzzles to progress to the next chapter in the Layton mystery. This game has more puzzles than ever before.

In addition to the main story quest, the bonus Professor Layton's London Life game adds hours of extended game play. Professor Layton's London Life also includes multiplayer modes where players can use Tag Mode to trade gifts out of their inventories with anyone they pass on the street, or exchange Friend codes and create copies of their characters to live in each other's towns.

As with previous Professor Layton games, gamers with wireless broadband Internet access can also download new puzzles each week and use "picarats" (rewards for solving puzzles) in order to unlock and view bonus gallery items.