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Hotel Dusk: Room 215 Review

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Genres: Adventure Stylus All
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Cing
Publisher: Nintendo
Review Date: 15-4-2009
Review Platform: DS
Review Region: AU Available In Australia
Est Playtime: 10.5+ hrs
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

In Hotel Dusk: Room 215 you play as ex-detective Kyle Hyde. Kyle works as a traveling salesmen but heís really on the trail of his old partner who betrayed him while undercover. Itís set in 1979, in a run down hotel, which may just hold the truth behind his partnerís betrayal.

hotel_dusk003The first thing you notice when starting up Hotel Dusk is that all the graphics are rotated 90 degrees. This is because the game is meant to be played with the DS on its side like a book. It doesnít make sense to begin with but as soon as you see two characters talking to each other it does. One character is on each screen and they face each other, gesturing and nodding as they talk. The game thoughtfully includes an option to vertically flip the screen for left handers. Hotel Dusk shares some similarities with Another Code: Two Memories (Trace Memory) and is made by the same developers.

hotel_dusk039Hotel Dusk is a point and click adventure game in the style of a noir film. Itís gritty which is in part due to the character animations that look pencil drawn. Kyleís also got attitude and he often tells people to shut up; heís a bit of jerk. And yet despite that the other guests in the hotel, who are essential to unlocking the truth, spill their guts to him. The guests in the rooms adjacent to Kyleís room (the eponymous 215) are: an actress (Iris), a famous writer (Martin), a young man (Jeff) who found a girl wandering the roads (Mila), and a father (Kevin) and daughter (Melissa) among others. Each of them has their own problem which has lead them to Hotel Dusk but each of their stories in one way or another gets you closer to solving Kyleís quest. The guestís stories are what you spend most of the game dealing with and I didnít care a great deal about Kyleís story; I was more interested in Melissaís. I initially expected something dramatic to happen, like a murder, but instead things just slowly unfolded until the last person revealed the whole story. The game ended very quickly after that and it wasnít entirely satisfying.

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The gameplay is what you would expect from a point and click game. You move Kyle around the Hotel via a simple overhead map that allows you to inspect areas or talk to people. When inspecting an area you use the stylus to click on objects which are displayed in 3D and the entire scene can be rotated. Special objects require more interaction such as closing the DS or moving the stylus back and forth to grind down the end of a pencil. The game also includes an in-game notebook that you can scribble in. Sometimes the notebook is given to characters who then draw or write in it. When itís handed back to Kyle it sits in their hands waiting for the player to select it with the stylus. Itís a nice touch.

hotel_dusk034Speaking to characters or wandering around the hotel triggers questions. These questions came in three forms with some needing to be said to specific or multiple characters to progress and others simply being extra detail. While talking an exclamation icon will appear that allows you to press them on that dialogue point. Sometimes the game will also present options for you to select, about what else you want to say during a conversation. The trouble is they donít give you a good idea of what Kyle will actually say. This is a problem because some dialogue sequences cause you to fail the game. However the game will allow you to play on for a minute before telling you itís game over. Successfully completing a chapter advances the time in the game which leads to new events like meeting a certain character in the hotelís bar. It also means completing a quiz about the events of that chapter but the questions tend to border on the irrelevant. The same thing happened in Another Code (Trace Memory).

hotel_dusk028Like almost all games of this type youíre going to be spending a lot of time wandering around looking for something to happen. For instance when Kyle steps out of his room he hears a whistle but you donít know where it came from. So you have to check every door until you find the right one. Youíll be doing that a lot because to pass through a door you have to open it yourself or to talk to people in their rooms you have to knock on their door first. It gets dull. Youíre also going to need to remember obscure items so my advice it to just use a playguide if you get stuck.

hotel_dusk042Hotel Duskís animation is unique as its characters are drawn in a cut out pencil sketch fashion. Their expression and movement is top notch and perhaps only surpassed by Phoenix Wright. Itís subtle and done in a realistic kind of way. The gameís music is pretty decent but Iím sure I heard some tracks from Another Code. You can listen to all the gameís music through the jukebox in the hotelís bar.

Hotel Dusk has a complicated story thatís quite good but I didnít really care about its central storyline. This is because most of the game is spent dealing with the other characterís stories and Kyleís is left to the last moment. It might also be because Kyle himself is a bit of jerk so I didnít identify with him. The gameplay is mostly standard point and click but there is some dialogue freedom. Although I donít like that you can fail the game for choosing a wrong option that isnít properly explained. The animation is superb with its unique pencil sketch style and realistic expressions. Hotel Dusk is a good game that has a gritty feel to it thanks to its dialogue, setting, and exceptional artistic style.


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