Hotel Dusk: Room 215ESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Developer – Cing Inc.
Publisher - Nintendo
Rumble Pak Compatible
Touch Screen Compatible
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is the second graphic novel developed by Cing Inc. I have to admit I didn’t play their first one, Trace Memory, so when I fired up Hotel Dusk I didn’t have a clue what I was in for. I have to say that I was really hooked by the style of the game from the graphics to the gameplay, and anyone looking for something different from the usual RPG, platform or sports game fare should take a hard look at this game.
Now if you are looking for some visual style, then Hotel Dusk is a game to look at. There is a 2D/3D mix here, and it all melds together quite well. The environments are rendered in 3D but the characters themselves are 2D anime inspired works of art. They starkly contrast on the 3D environments, not only because they are 2D, but also because they are done in muted, if any, color. If you look at each character that you come across they seem to take a life of their own and the visual style for each character really suits the game. The environments themselves are pretty well rendered too and there are lots of different areas to explore. I was somewhat surprised with how there was so much to look at in the hotel, right down to my bathroom in my hotel room complete with bathtub, toilet and sink.
As this game is a novel, and there is lots of reading to due, I think it would only be fair to comment on the text that you have to read. I am happy to say that the text is clear, concise and just the right size to read. At no time did I find myself squinting to read the story on the DS’s screens. The speed seems just right too and made for a somewhat engaging experience as each character told their part of the story.
There is not a whole lot of sound in this game as Hotel Dusk is a novel. There is an available soundtrack that is somewhat jazzy and the music does seem to match the overall mood of the game. There are not a lot of different songs though and I think the developers could have added more music to make the experience of reading through so many dialogs more enjoyable. I also believe the music could have been more context sensitive adding more emotion to the game. Regardless, the sound does its job, but don’t expect a whole lot.
Having to tell you about the story is a bit of a risk as I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I will be as brief as I can be while still telling you a bit of what to expect. You play the role of an ex-cop by the name of Kyle Hyde. He is an ex-cop for a reason, a reason that you must play the game to find out. You are working in a different job, suffice to say a job with a twist, and it is this job that takes you to Hotel Dusk. Your stay at said hotel is where the story takes place, and it is full of interesting people and interesting twists.
Now I think it is fair to forewarn people that this is an interactive novel and therefore you will be doing a lot of reading during play. I knew I was up for something different when I was required to hold my DS sideways (think Brain Age) to simulate an actual novel. As I consider myself somewhat ADHD, having to sit down to play a game with a lot of reading was somewhat of an alien experience to me. However, I was soon caught up in the Hotel Dusk’s plot as I was having conversations with various characters in the game. These dialogues have some interactivity to them as you get to pick your questions from preconceived queries during specific times in the interaction. This is quite interesting as should you choose to ask the wrong question at the wrong time you can even end the game and have to start from where you saved last. This causes you to learn who you are dealing with in order to create the right conversation and gather the information you may require. Be prepared to slog through a lot of wordy dialog though as Hotel Dusk really does test your reading skills as there is a lot of it. Speaking of the save system, you can do so anytime during the game, and there is more then one save slot.
Beyond the aforementioned reading, gameplay is done via a point and click style. You use the DS’s touch screen to interact with your environment, including choosing your questions, exploring the hotel, and looking as specific areas or items that interest you. For example, in order to traverse the hotel you slide the stylus around the map that is on the touch screen. As you do so, the view of your surroundings is displayed on the other screen. I found it somewhat cool to move my stylus around my hotel room and actually view my surroundings on the other screen like the cheap TV, bed and phone that inhabited my room. There is even a notebook where you can jot down, using the stylus to write, notes should something in the game tweak your interest.
As you venture through Hotel Dusk’s hallways, rooms, and storyline, you will come across the odd puzzle which you have to solve before the story continues. These puzzles will require some thought now-and-then and I found that they were a nice addition to a game that could have been just involved reading. Overall, the game has some length to it, but this is mainly due to the fact that it is a graphic novel, not a long game itself. That being said it will take you some time to complete it as you have to read the story and solve the various puzzles and you should enjoy the story that unfolds as you get deeper into the game.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a pretty good game. Although you will have to read a lot of text, the story pulls you in and the plot has its fair share of twists and turns. Add to the good story some really stylish graphics and you have a great package to look at. Be forewarned though, once you play the game through there is no reason to do so again. That being said, most people who pick up this game should enjoy the experience.