So, it’s been a while since I reviewed anything (or did anything, actually, after I spilled water on my laptop ;-;), so I figured I might as well, right? Especially since the game I’m reviewing takes place right after Christmas… in the 1979. Hotel Dusk Room 215 works a lot like the Phoenix Wright series games, but instead of a rookie defense attorney, you play as Kyle Hyde: an ex-cop who now works as a traveling salesman. Why the downgrade, bro? It’s a mystery at first, although some silent flashbacks imply that Hyde shot his partner, Bradley. He’s been assumed dead ever since, but Hyde is one of the few who still believe he’s alive. So, when Hyde is sent on an errand to Hotel Dusk, and happens to find fishy information related to Bradley, you can bet your bottom dollar that we’re in for a detective adventure!
Before we get started, some thoughts. One very unique feature of Hotel Dusk Room 215 is that it plays sideways. Yup. So you hold your DS like a book (your own little detective pad!). At first I thought it was a glitch in my game, but then I realized how intuitive this idea was. The movie scenes can movie from one screen over to the next, either from right to left or left to right. Because that’s usually how movies work. Instead of a dual-screen one on top of another, where you can only have continuous vertical motion, playing sideways allows horizontal scanning, and is much more intuitive. Alas, since the DS buttons (A, B, X, Y and directional pad) aren’t in convenient places anymore, you mostly have to rely on your touchscreen and stylus to move around and examine things. Luckily for me, I recently fixed my touchscreen so I had no problems, but for people with nasty screen scratches, playing the game mechanics may prove to be inconvenient and annoying.
On with the story. Kyle Hyde’s boss, Ed, sends him on an errand to pick up some lost items at this dump of a hotel called Hotel Dusk. There, you meet the staff and the six (seven including Mila…) other guests, all at the hotel for their various interesting reasons. To name a few, there’s the rough-around-the-edges hotel manager, Dunning Smith (whose resemblance to a certain Robert De Niro is striking), Wonder Maid Rosa Fox and the bellboy, an old acquaintance and ex-convict, Louise Denonno, also known as just Louie. Not to say that everyone else is boring (in fact, most characters are extremely endearing), but Louie is definitely my favorite. Him and Kyle make a fantastic idiot-straightjacket comedy duo.
The characters you meet have a crucial role in the gameplay, because you have to corner and interrogate every one of them. Therefore, as I’ve said, gameplay-wise, Hotel Dusk works a lot like Phoenix Wright; but since there aren’t any courtroom simulations, you don’t look for contradictions in witness stories. Instead, you go around looking for people with secrets, ask them and answer their questions, provide evidence when necessary, and finally they’ll spill their guts to you. Great way to spend your after-Christmas, eh? The guests here aren’t particularly trying to cover up any crimes, so as long as you answer their questions correctly, you’ll break into their shells. However, if you miss any of the evidence or if you answer any questions wrong while conversing with your “witness,” it’s Game Over. Nonetheless, if you stay faithful to your detective nature and investigate everything thoroughly, there should be no problems. It’s a fairly straightforward game.
The best part of this game is the way the plot unfolds. At first, you simply stumble upon a few small, strange events and some coincidences. However, these small mysteries keep on piling up along with the coincidences, so before you know it, you’ve stumbled onto a huge case. This emulates a very natural snowballing effect for the tension, and it builds up to a great climax. The music, which is usually jazzy and relaxing, also rises for the occasion and gets much more serious to fit the mood. So, even though I am less effected than Laevatein by visual novels and games, for once I too was actually on the edge of my seat towards the end.
One of the things I didn’t like about the game is that after each distinct chapter of the story, you have to complete a little quiz, where Hyde “straightens out” events that happened. The quiz is a bit dull since the questions just summarize the key points of the chapter, and makes it easy-mode on the player. Plus, you waste about a minute of your life trying to skip through the dialogue. That’s another thing I didn’t particularly like about the game. You can’t really fast forward through the dialogue (you can make the words type out of the screen a little faster, but that’s about it), so for those who are faster readers, this can be a slight annoyance. Finally, something disturbing I noticed is that the women’s CG all have no boobs. Like seriously, they were all so board-flat it is worth mentioning.
And here’s a little trailer for you!