Hello, readers and people who clicked this by accident! Last week covered one of the first scary games ever made. OoooooOOOooooo.
This week brings us to an adventure/mystery title on the DS that turned out to be one of my personal favorites.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 was developed by Cing, whose credits include the DS cult favorite Trace Memory and the Wii title Little King's Story, which was awesome and had popped up on Vita a couple years ago. Sadly, Cing went out of business a few years back.
Anyway, in Dusk, you play as Kyle Hyde, a former NYPD detective turned traveling salesman. Kyle sells junk for Red Crown, a company run by a friend of Kyle's father. Kyle is also looking for his former NYPD partner, Brian Bradley, and this search kinda sorta leads him to Hotel Dusk, a remote hotel somewhere near Los Angeles. Kyle is given Room 215, a room said to grant wishes, and he eventually comes across Mila, a mysterious girl who cannot speak.
Now, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is some kind of supernatural tale, given the somewhat eerie title of the game, the whole "Wish Room" thing, and Cing's previous title Trace Memory, which in fact featured a ghost. Sadly, or perhaps refreshingly, Dusk is a tale grounded mostly in reality. I say "mostly" because there's a lot of twists, turns, and slightly too convenient points in the story, in the name of entertainment.
So naturally, the first thing you'll notice about Dusk is the way you hold the DS. See, you hold it vertically. That is to say, sideways. Like a tiny notebook of sorts. It's pretty cool considering the mystery-novel atmosphere of the story, although there's really no way to hold the thing comfortably like that for a really long time. But it's better than playing Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword like that, because you're not really frantically slashing at the screen in this game.
The second thing you'll notice is the graphical style. While the environments are drawn in a rather dull "realistic" slant, it's the characters you'll never be able to stop staring at. Everyone's drawn in this amazing black-and-white pencil art, and they kind of jitter slightly even when standing still. Immediately, gamers of a, um, er, certain age will find the art style reminiscent of the classic "Take On Me" music video:
Right? The game kinda makes you laugh at first because of this, but while Dusk looks similar, it has a style all it's own.
This being an adventure game, Dusk doesn't require a lot of action or reflexes on your part. Mostly what you'll be doing is walking around the small hotel, chatting with people, and solving puzzles. What I enjoyed about the puzzles is that most of them are grounded in reality. Generally, you'll be tasked with picking the lock on your briefcase, finding things like tools and keys, and the like. There's no goofy, illogical Resident Evil puzzles here. (Remember that puzzle where you have to push statues over vents and push a button to open the GLASS display case? Couldn't you just break the glass with your gun? Or just shoot the door down with your newly acquired shotgun and avoid being crushed? ...but then we wouldn't get the "Jill Sandwich" line. Alas.) But that's what's refreshing about Dusk-the general lack of silliness in the puzzle design. With a couple exceptions, of course. This is a video game, after all.
An idea of what navigation looks like-map on the right, 3D representation of the environment on the left.
Most of your interactions with the guests and staff of Hotel Dusk are what you'd expect in an adventure title like this. Sometimes, a character will say something important, and you'll get to "press" them on it, Phoenix Wright style. Otherwise, you'll have to get their story by choosing correct responses to their statements. Too many wrong responses and it's game over-and you're gonna want to finish this without any game overs. There's an extra scene after the credits if you do, and you'll want to see it for yourself...
Because what you're really playing for here is the story, and Hotel Dusk delivers. While it gets off to a slow start, and in fact the build up all the way to the end is of a more measured pace, Dusk doesn't disappoint in terms of character development and shocking twists. As mentioned, this is not an action packed tale. It's more for mystery fans. But those of you who like that sort of thing (and are not put off by tons of reading in your games) will find a tale of loss, pain, and letting go of one's past. There's moments that are funny, sad, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and sometimes sweet, all over the course of the game's roughly 7-10 hours.
I particularly like the game's theme of everyone being connected. You'll find an awful lot of "convenience" in the game-like how have all these people come to stay in this hotel at the same exact time?-but it's a work of fiction, and that's how works of fiction work.
Hotel Dusk does some cool things with the two DS screens.
What I liked most about the story is how it plays with standard tropes. Most of the characters you meet seem like standard, boilerplate characters, but each is given a past that turns your perception of them on its head. The hotel owner, Dunning Smith, seems like your everyday grump, but by the end of the game, you'll find yourself feeling for him. Same goes for the rest of the characters, though you might end up liking some characters more than others.
But you'll likely never forget them. Hotel Dusk is the kind of game that stays with you for a while after the credits roll. It's the kind of game you're happier for having experienced. It's just one of "those" games; the games that sit on your shelf, sandwiched between two others, yet it seems to stand out nonetheless.
Sadly, it's a safe bet we're not getting the sequel, Last Window, here in North America. Though I'm sure if Nintendo wanted to, they could make it happen as a download. Hope someone at Nintendo reads this.
Still, go track down a copy of Hotel Dusk. It's worth your time. Plus there's bowling in it. Kind of.
Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear questions, comments, and future Game of The Week suggestions! And I'm on Twitter, so you can tweet me suggestions, or just chat, here: @WingZero351
AND I'm starting a gaming blog project soon-stay tuned!
Next week, we arm ourselves with dual handguns. More importantly, we shut the lights off. Or shoot them out. The point is, it has to be dark...