Visual novels found a great home on Nintendo’s DS and Hotel Dusk Room 215 is no different. This is a great, lengthy, mystery visual novel that everyone should get their hands on. Nintendo released this title January 22, 2007 in North America and it was developed by Cing. It even got sequel but it was unfortunately only released on the other side of the pond. This is in part due to Cing going out of business soon after releasing Last Window: The Secret of Cape West so they weren’t able to get it published in the US. Luckily the DS isn’t region locked so I will be enjoying the further adventures of Kyle Hyde in a few weeks.
The story drives everything forward and it sets itself apart from many other point-and-click games immediately at the start. The setting is in a hotel in Los Angeles in 1979. It’s not just any hotel though; this is Hotel Dusk and it’s said to have a room that grants wishes. You play as Kyle Hyde, an ex police officer with a dark past that now finds himself as a traveling salesman. You find yourself at this hotel at the behest of your boss and to track down your one time partner, Brian Bradley. As you explore the hotel you meet the other guests and slowly discover that everyone staying at the hotel is tied to one another by chance. Each chapter allows you to close out one mystery only to see another larger one in the future. The game does a nice job of tying everything up in a nice little bow. I won’t be the one to tie that bow for you though… you’ll just have to spend a night at Hotel Dusk.
Being a visual novel/point-and-click adventure game there really isn’t that much to boast about or describe in terms of gameplay. The one neat concept that Cing used though was the fact that you have to open your DS as a book to play the game. On the touch-screen you control Hyde with the stylus through the hotel in a top down perspective. On the 2nd screen you see what Hyde sees, the doors, windows, guests and other points of interest as he travels the hallways. When you are in a room searching for clues there’s a magnifying glass icon for points of interest, click on this and you are brought into a close-up of the area where you can shuffle through items to find out what is important to your cases. Cing has found unique ways to use the touch screen by making certain interactions different than any other game, you have to double click on items to pick them up, you can bowl via the touch screen and so on. They kept it very interesting and they were insanely creative with the puzzles and interactions.
What I really enjoyed was the artistic look of this game; all the animations look to have been hand drawn and really nail everyone’s emotions perfectly. The style reminds me of an animator I use to see on television every now and then named Bill Plympton, except the game keeps most of the characters in black and white. Plympton used colored pencils for a majority of the animations and art he would make and Hotel Dusk follows that look. I also enjoyed the music in this game. Throughout your entire stay you will be accompanied by music, and it just fits so well. After hearing it for several hours you realize how much fun a life soundtrack would be. I’m sure mine would be filled with lots of Wahh, Wahh’s.
If you use to love the point and click adventures of yesteryear then this is the title for you. This title does lack most of the humor from fan favorite point and click adventures, but what it lacks in humor is carries in mystery and intrigue. While it does have somewhat of a slow start the last few chapters really pick up and begin to tie all the lose ends together. I loved the artistic style, the time period, the characters and just the overall feel of this title. When you need a break from all the huge intense set piece games that have grossly large shoulders, then Hotel Dusk is the game for you. It is a nice pause from the glut of shooters and high impact games that we get now.