Originally posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 on Blogger


Basic Information:


Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Adventure
Difficulty: Fair
Developer: Cing
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Jan. 2007
Rating: T for Teen
Retail Price: $ 29.99 US ($ 34.99 CAN) / Touch Generation Re-release $ 19.99 US/CAN


What’s It About:

You play as Kyle Hyde, an ex-officer turned salesman, who still seeks closure to the events that happened prior to the beginning of the game involving his old partner Bradley. When Hyde arrives at Hotel Dusk, he meets a young mute girl, who wears the same bracelet as his partner, and it seems that she isn’t the only unusual thing or person within the hotel with some strange connection to Bradley. Now it’s up to you to guide Hyde as he unravels the mysteries in one long night at the hotel and finally reveals the truth behind Bradley’s betrayal.

Gameplay:

A mixture of unique and traditional sums up the basic feel of Hotel Dusk’s gameplay. Being an adventure game, Hotel Dusk keeps the traditional aspects of the genre in tact, yet it places them in a unique perspective through the use of the DS and it’s two screens. You hold your DS like a book, and both screens show you, your current environment, but each screens shows a different perspective. The touch screen gives you a very visually basic view of the layout of the room you are currently inside, while the other screen shows you a nice 3D rendition of the room as Hyde would see it, if he were looking at it. These two perspectives work very well, because the player is able to experience Hotel Dusk as if they were really looking at it, while the second screen allows the player to view the layout of the whole room without having to move around too much (and solves the often problematic issue of camera zoom and rotation on the DS).

Another interesting facet of Hotel Dusk is the story book approach to the gameplay, not only is this appropriate for this genre, but it also distinguishes Hotel Dusk from the other adventure games on the DS. And unlike Cing’s other adventure game (also on the DS), Hotel Dusk packs enough play time to satisfy most of us; with more puzzles and characters, the game could take any where from 15 to 30 hours to complete, depending on how fast you are and if you decide to partake in the additional side quest. Sure, it doesn’t hit the typical 40ish hour mark for DS games, but for an adventure game, it’s pretty long.

Hotel Dusk also doesn’t try to be cryptic about your next step, or make a puzzle impossible in order to prolong its length. Everything is crystal clear and the majority of the time, you will have a clear idea of what to do next or who to talk to. Even if you are not too sure, you will have enough information to know where to go more or less, and in the rare occasion that you have no idea; the hotel isn’t too large and the game marks interactable object very well ( if you can interact with an object, the magnifying glass button will flash), so you won’t be tapping aimlessly, hoping to trigger something. The puzzles range from very simple to thoughtful, but are never so difficult that you have to consult a walkthrough. Overall, the game has a very fair difficulty rating, and its gameplay is very intuitive and won’t leave you frustrated.

Story & Characters:

Being an adventure game, the story, and to a certain extent even the characters, are its lifeline. If an adventure game has a boring or uninspired story, and/or annoying and horrible characters, the game won’t be enjoyable. Thankfully, Hotel Dusk has a very well written story, and interesting and varied characters. The plot of the game will keep you guessing, and until the final moments of the game, you won’t be sure of all the connections between the characters (well at least I wasn’t ^^) The characters are also varied and have interesting stories that all connect somehow (even if indirectly) to Bradley and what happened to him. Hotel Dusk did what every good adventure game does, it kept me addicted to the story, so much so, that I wanted to solve all the mysteries that tied the characters together, learn what happened in the past, and discover what lies in store for the main characters. And I wasn’t disappointed, the ending was very nice, and even brought a tear to my eye.

As a side note, Hyde is an interesting character, and I liked his hard-boiled cop attitude, cliche through it was. Mila, starts out rather cliche too, but I found myself more sympathetic towards her as the game progressed. And Louie always put a smile on my face. The unique setting, California- 1979, also distinguishes Hotel Dusk from other adventure games.

Art & Graphics:

Both the art and the graphics fit very well with the story and approach of the game. The character portraits, in particular, fit the story book feel of the game. The character portraits, seen to the left, are monochromatic sketches that come to life within the game; as a character talks, they move and show emotion based on the topic of discussion. It fits very well, and makes Hotel Dusk seem more like a novel than a game.

The 3D rendition of what Hyde sees on the left screen is not the best 3D to date on the DS and it does have a slight fuzziness to it, but it is still done rather nicely and only adds to the game’s experience. This is mainly due to the fact that the left screen sole purpose is a cosmetic one, it is rarely involved in the actual gameplay, and hence there are no camera issues, or clarity issues. You don’t even have to look at the left screen if you so choose, but I wouldn’t recommend it, since the left screen brings the hotel to life, and enriches your game experience.

The right screen is very bare when compared to the left screen during the exploration sessions. It shows the layout of the room Hyde is currently in, and does it at the bare minimum. It basically looks like a rough drawing of the floor plan, and although it pales in comparison to the 3D depictions on the left screen, it is charming in its own way. Although graphically, it isn’t spectacular, the right screen is very practical; it makes the gameplay less frustrating and more intuitive, and for these reasons, it’s lack of graphical ‘umph’, are easily forgivable.

There is one thing that I don’t like through, the box art, it’s pretty ugly, especially when you compare it to the Japanese box art.  The font doesn’t fit with the rest of the image. Mila and Hyde look like they have been copy and pasted together and it looks too busy. Not to mention that Mila looks almost ghost-like, giving the game a spookier vibe then it deserves or needs. Thankfully the box art is deceptive, and the game is a lot better then the front cover makes it out to be. As the popular expression goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. But, seriously, why oh why, could they not have used the simpler and better Japanese cover. A mystery that I will never understand!

Music & Sound:

Hotel Dusk has a varied array of musical tracks, some are mediocre, but most are very nice and memorable. You might even find yourself listening to them on the game’s jukebox, or maybe even online. Some that I enjoyed included: Midnight, The Long Night, Violet Sky, Rainy Night, Silent Moon, On the Rocks, and Amber Sunset. The game’s music fits the setting very well; the majority of the tunes sound like they are from a  jukebox. Sure the tunes aren’t orchestral and majestic, but they fit the setting of the game very well, and that is what most musical scores in games attempt to do (and should do). The sound is also good, although the game doesn’t have too many sound effects, but the ones that it does have, are well done. Below is a sample of “Rainy Night”, one of my favourite tracks from the game =)

Multiplayer:

Hotel Dusk does not support any multiplayer modes, which is not surprising, since it is an adventure game.

My Thoughts & Recommendations:

If your curious about the adventure genre, and want to give it a try, Hotel Dusk would be one of the best games to start out with. It has the incredible story-telling that this genre is known for, without some of its less appealing aspects (most notably the clicking-or touching in this case- of everything in sight in an attempt to trigger the story along). Just remember, Hotel Dusk has a lot of dialogue, in fact, the majority of the game involves talking to different guests at the hotel, in order to squeeze some information out of them. If you happen to be someone who abhors lengthy dialogue, then adventure gaming is probably not the genre for you. If you are just not fond of it, then Hotel Dusk might still be worth your time, as long as you can enjoy a good detective story. As for myself, I quite enjoy lengthy dialogue, so Hotel Dusk was one pleasant ride.

Other then the genre’s quirks, there is nothing in Hotel Dusk that can ruin the experience for you. Both the music and presentation are done well, and the gameplay is simple and easy to grasp. Just a small warning, this game might be a little challenging for young children, so I don’t recommend buying it for the little ones (not that you should in the first place, since the game has a T rating ;] ) Not only does the game ask for a higher level of concentration and information retention, it also has a few challenging (but not impossible) puzzles that children will not be able to appreciate. If you happen to have a younger child or sibling, I recommend waiting a while before introducing them to the adventure genre, unless you are willing to hold their hand and help them with the more difficult puzzles and reminding them of all the story details (chapter endings have quizzes that ask questions about the plot and characters, so you need to pay attention). But even then, Hotel Dusk really isn’t a story for the younger ones, and I would recommend Cing’s other adventure game, Trace Memory, which is a bit easier and a lot shorter, for younger children. If you really wish to introduce them to this genre, it’s the better option because it does not ask for as much from the player as Hotel Dusk does, but that does not mean Trace Memory is easy, it has its fill of challenging puzzles. It is just shorter and doesn’t have a large cast, so it does not require the same degree of information retention as Hotel Dusk.

With all that said, I wholeheartedly recommend Hotel Dusk: Room 215 to any DS owner, especially since the resurrection of adventure gaming has only been made possible by the DS. As for us females, Dusk isn’t particularly aimed at us, but as long as your a girl or woman who doesn’t mind lengthy dialogue, and can enjoy a traditional and well written detective story, then I also recommend Hotel Dusk to you. The exclusion of a playable female character is acceptable here, since adventure games are like stories and each story can only have a single protagonist, in this case, it happens to be a man named Kyle Hyde. What is rather irritating through, are the games where a playable female character could have been added, but weren’t.

Conclusion:

Pros: Cons:
-Interesting story and characters
-Unique book-like presentation
-A well thought out plot with all characters having some sort of link to the mystery
-No random clicking/tapping to find objects to move story forward
-Beautiful hand drawn character portraits that move
-Music that fits and sounds good
-A few overused character types
-Horrible box art

Overall, a great Adventure game for the Nintendo DS

–SW

Advertisements