|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Cing||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan.22, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: T||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
I was surprised the other day when I started playing this game and the Nintendo logo appeared vertically on the top screen. I turned my DS ninety degrees and it looked like a book. That clued me in: "Hotel Dusk: Room 215" is more like a graphic novel than a regular game. "This is going to be interesting!," I thought, and it sure was. This game is different than anything I've played before on a handheld, but in a good way.
The game is set in December of 1979 and tells the story of a young ex-cop from the NYPD that travels to Hotel Dusk, following the orders of his boss. Kyle Hide used to work for the police department with his pal Bradley, but at one point in time he got a phone call, met his partner at the dock, and ended up shooting at him. The body was never recovered, and that makes Kyle believe that Bradley might still be alive, somewhere.
Kyle Hide doesn't work as a policeman anymore, but rather as a salesman. His boss is an old friend of his late dad that not only runs this door-to-door sales company, but also works on the side finding and delivering lost objects. Sometimes people just don't want to get the police involved, and that's why Ed, Kyle's boss, offers his services. Kyle often helps him with that and that's how he ends up in Hotel Dusk. Here, he will meet several characters, each of them with traits, stories, and attitudes. No one there seems to be very helpful at the beginning, and, in fact, they all seem to hide something. When you start becoming familiar with the hotel you will realize that something happened in that place and that your missing friend Bradley might have been part of it. Kyle never got over Bradley's death and knows something fishy is going on. His curiosity will have him wandering around the hotel meeting people, chatting with them, and examining the place, hoping to find clues and answers to his mind-torturing questions.
The story is linear and there's not much room for mistakes, although asking the wrong questions when interrogating the characters will make you wander around a little longer. Sometimes, you will see that you can put pressure on the characters to get extra information out of them, and that's when you have to tap the small, yellow triangle on the screen and ask the extra questions. Kyle's mind will always be full of questions and they should always be answered because much of the information will prove to be crucial, although you need to be cautious because too many questions or questions in the wrong order could scare people away and generate an unsatisfying "Game Over" on your screen. You can always "Retry," though, so it's not a very big deal. You also have a notebook in your inventory where you can write down certain things that you consider important with the stylus, that is. The plot is really interesting and the dialogues are very well-written, and this is mainly what keeps you playing until the end.
Unlike other games, Hotel Dusk: Room 215 presents characters with real depth. You will like Kyle, even though he can be harsh and sarcastic at times; he will definitely make you laugh, or at least smile, once or twice. The story is dark and mysterious, so the Hotel Dusk is the perfect setting. Even though there's not much action involved, you will feel useful by leading Kyle through the scenario successfully, looking for characters and clues, and solving the different puzzles that are presented, which are not very challenging, but they make sense and will give you a sense of accomplishment when you see everything come together.
Like I said before, you will play this game holding your DS vertically, just like if it were a book, and the dialogue will appear sequentially on the screen, along with the corresponding animation. Sometimes your eyes will dart from side to side, which can make you lose focus on what is happening, but you will get used to it as you advance through the game. When you reach an area that you can examine, the magnifier icon will light up and you will be able to just tap it and zoom into the scene. Different objects will compound the surroundings and some of them could be significant. They usually give you more information and an even closer look of that special object when you tap it. Not everything is useful when you first find it, but you should keep it in mind in case you need it later on. If you look in your carry-on, you will see the items that you have. Some of those could also be useful sooner or later and you can try to use them to interact with other objects. As with most games, if something doesn't make complete sense, it's probably because you're not supposed to do anything with it just yet, so don't panic! When you see somebody around, you should try to talk to them and see what they have to say; just tap the communication button for this. All the gameplay is as simple as that, so you won't have any problems to continue with the story at a good pace.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 presents three-dimensional environments throughout the game. Or at least they're as three-dimensional as they get on the Nintendo DS, which is not perfect, but fairly decent. It helps you advance through the story and get to know the surroundings. Nevertheless, the perfectly hand-drawn characters of the game are what really make this game shine visually. They are quite static, but sometimes those characters are animated in a really smooth, simple, and expressive way that just works perfectly for this kind of game and makes the story feel more dynamic. What is interesting is that most of the time these drawings are not even colored, but they still look great. This game looks like a graphic novel most of the time but it's mixed up with the first person adventure look that ties everything together, a strange but wonderful combination.
When you play Hotel Dusk: Room 215 you won't really know if you're playing a game, reading a mystery book, or watching a movie, although having to scroll through the text by tapping the arrow with the stylus or pressing a button will often bring you back to reality. It would have been nice if they had included some voice-work in the title, to make the game more appealing for everybody, but probably all DS gamers are already used to reading text more than hearing their characters talk, so I guess it's not a huge deal. The music in the background is really nice, though. It's an important element of the game because it keeps the story fresh and engaging. Different movie-like tunes come in depending on what's happening and this will also lead you through the perfectly outlined story.
If you enjoy mystery novels you'll find yourself immersed in this game in no time. You will be required to read a lot, but if you're patient enough and love reading as much as playing a game, this could become one of your richest and most interesting gaming experiences.
CCC Co-Site Director
Next stop, the Hotel California... by Vaughn Smith
May 16, 2006 - Adventure games are a dying breed so you should take advantage of 'em, when you can. The genre is perfectly suited for the DS, allowing for a more relaxed cerebral gameplay experience which can utlize the DS technology to great effect.
Hotel Dusk takes place in Los Angeles in the year 1979. As Kyle Hyde, an ex-cop turned travelling salesman, you find yourself in the land of broken dreams searching for a missing friend. Eventually the path leads to Hotel Dusk, a creepy old hotel which holds a dark and fascinating secret: the hotel is rumored to possess a very strange room (Room 215, anyone?) in which wishes are granted. What those wishes are and their repercussions are unknown, but something that Hyde must discover for himself.
Anyone who has played the excellent Trace Memory will definitely want to investigate Hotel Dusk: Room 215 as it's being developed by the same team, CING Inc. We'll have more when we get up the nerve...
CCC Site Director