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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Game Review - Hotel Dusk:Room 215

The DS has been reviving the point-and-click genre recently, with the previous game being Touch Detective. The latest one to hit the store shelves is Hotel Dusk: Room 215, a game where the controls are entirely stylus-based and where the DS is held vertically in order to play the game. Is Hotel Dusk: Room 215 any fun then? Read on to find out.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 puts you in the shoes of Kyle Hyde, an ex-police officer, who is currently looking for his long-lost partner, Bradley. It seems that Bradley had betrayed the police force years ago and Kyle had tracked him down and shot him. The problem is: Kyle wants to know why his partner turned his back on the police force and as such, Kyle is now attempting to find Bradley. Of course, the story in Hotel Dusk isn’t as simple as that. As you progress further into the game, there will be unexpected, wicked twists and turns in the plot, making the story more convoluted. Fortunately, there will be a summary for every chapter after you completed each in your notebook, for which you can refer to if you are feeling confused. All the action and thrill is contained within Hotel Dusk and I am surprised by how the developers have managed to squeeze so much mystery into that building alone. Every guest in the hotel has a story to tell.

However, it must be noted that Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is not a game for everyone. In fact, Hotel Dusk plays out more like a fiction book than a game. There will be dialogue after dialogue after dialogue and lots of interaction, as well as exploration, needs to be done. Conversations trees help keep things interesting, though. There will be some points where you will be required to choose your replies or even questions to ask. The challenging thing is that you need to select the correct answers, or else it may be game over for you. I must admit that in the first 3 chapters (there are 10 chapters in all) of the game, the pace of the game may be a little slow because some of the dialogues are nothing but merely artificial lengtheners to the game. And no, if you are thinking of skipping the dialogues, you can’t; the game does not allow you to do so. The true colors of the game start showing themselves only from the fourth chapter onwards, where more mysteries start piling up on you and interaction becomes more important than those in the first 3 chapters, not to mention the pace of the game being faster.

One of the things I like about Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is the beautiful hand-drawn artworks. Instead of choosing a graphics-intensive approach that has mostly been used on the PSP, the developers, Cing, opted for a more comic book-style presentation. I have to agree that it suits the DS well and playing the game does not become an eyesore. Now, you may ask, what about the sound in the game? For one, it is disappointing that Cing does not include spoken voice with the dialogue, but that minor fact can be overlooked. Every situation in the game has its own kind of music. There is a soothing andante music when you are just loitering around in the hotel, another really ambient one when you are in the restaurant and the tune changes to an intense one when you are confronting a person and trying to drag the truth out of him/her.

Another gameplay element of a mystery-adventure game is puzzle-solving, and Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is not lacking any of that. From outright irrelevant ones to the real crucial ones later on in the game, Hotel Dusk is strewn with puzzles. Some of the puzzles even require you to use the DS in innovative ways like flipping it close and open again so that you can see the back of a puzzle piece or revive a person. Sadly, through the entire game, none utilizes the microphone.

For all the time Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is worth, it does have its shortcomings too. I feel that some parts of the game are illogical. For example, you have to show a person his student ID twice. Or that the person calmly lets you into his room after you have confronted him aggressively just moments ago. Or that the person suddenly stops and chides you when on the verge of breaking down and revealing everything. There is also the possibility of getting stuck often in the later chapters of the game, but the game does well to offer you hints occasionally. These 2 minor errors ruin what otherwise would have been a perfect game.

Final Comments
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a masterpiece. It has got a good plot (hey, you’ve got to play it through yourself to feel the brilliance of the story), nice hand-drawn artworks, appropriate music, and the game is filled with suspense from chapter 4 onwards to the end. It just grips you and never lets go. If you are the type who likes reading mystery novels, all the better; you will find more enjoyment in this game. The game is extremely long, though, so expect to spend quite a while to finish it. That was why I took so long before writing this game review (this review has been updated before).

Overall score: 9.7/10


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