|Hotel Dusk: Room 215|
|Genre||Text-heavy Point and Click|
|MtAMinutes to Action||8|
|Score||4 Gameplay: 6
Fun Factor: 3
|Buy from Amazon|
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a point and click adventure game for the Nintendo DS. It was released early last year and features both interesting graphic styles and gameplay controls. As far as the graphics go, the characters are hand-drawn with a pencil and use no colors except for pencil shadings. The game is actually played quite differently too, instead of holding the DS like normal, you turn it on its side like you're reading a book. This gives you two vertical screens side-by-side that seem like it would be better for telling a dramatic story. It's definitely something to get used to when you first pick it up but it makes sense for the style of game it is. Speaking of the style of Hotel Dusk, something about this game reminds me of the old school scary game, Uninvited. Well, it scared me on the NES when I was eight years old!
Hotel Dusk is actually my first portable first hour review! Not sure why it took me 26 reviews to get to one, as I play portable games just as much as console and PC games. By the way, do you know how hard it is to get good screenshots of a portable game? Nearly impossible. Now let's get to the review.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I click Start and the first hour of Hotel Dusk begins. A typewriter is flashing words on the screen giving me the date and location. Detective style music begins and the opening cutscene starts. The backgrounds look like photos, and then a character appears, he's completely pencil sketched! No coloring at all.
01- The man gets a call from Bradley, the next scene cuts to the docks where our pencil man shoots someone. Then he wakes up, "Just a dream," he says. Next scene, type goes too fast to read all the information. Actually this cutscene is moving pretty fast either way. The phone rings and the chief yells to get Hyde on the phone.
02 - Hyde, our hero, gets a page on his pager (did they have pagers in the late 70's?) Looks like he has an assignment. It's late December of 1979. Hyde is at a gas station returning the page on the pay phone. He's supposed to pick up a package at Hotel Dusk.
03 - The scene cuts to him driving away, even the fringes of the background are pencil drawn, very cool effect. Hyde drives by a woman on the road and then pulls into Hotel Dusk. Kyle Hyde introduces himself to me, I now have to use the stylus to advance text.
04 - The text appears on the right (bottom screen) and the action on the left. Hyde has been out of the force for three years and is now a salesman for Red Crown.
05 - Sounds like his boss doesn't run a totally clean shop as he has Hyde work a few side jobs here and there. Hyde says that this is what he'll be doing until he finds Bradley... I wonder who Bradley is?
06 - On the right is the hotel's front door, looks like I get to open it. I push on it and it creaks open. Chapter 1 begins, it's 5:00 PM on December 28th, 1979.
07 - I'm inside the lobby now, on the right screen I have a first person view of the entryway. Kyle is talking to himself on the left.
08 - Ah, very interesting! Now the first person view is on the left screen and an overhead view of the room is on the right. Looks like I'll be using the stylus to move Kyle around on the overhead map. I approach the front desk and examine it by clicking a magnifying glass icon.
09 - I'm able to examine all the things on the front desk, including a TV, clipboard, telephone, and calendar. Kyle has remarks about everything. I ring the bell. Quite a few times actually (I like being obnoxious in video games)!
10 - A man enters, the two screens feature Kyle on the left, and the man on the right. This guy looks a lot like Rocky Balboa from his latest movie of the same name. Creepy. I get some dialogue options, Kyle demands a room.
11 - The man's name is Dunning Smith, the hotel's owner. He welcomes me to his "little slice'a heaven."
12 - Dunning tries to talk to me into an expensive suite. I think I just need a regular room bud.
13 - He gives me a pen to fill out the registration. I'm able to scribble on the fields and Kyle Hyde's real information is filled out. Nifty.
14 - Dunning questions my name but then gives me my key. The key to room 215... *dun dun dun* The room is named "Wish."
16 - He also gives me a hotel brochure, this guy sure talks a lot.
17 - I tell Dunning that I'm waiting for a package, he doesn't look for it very hard. Says the bellhop will bring it up to me.
18 - I regain control on the overhead map, time to head to my room I guess. Woah, an old woman with an eye patch just walked in asking for a room! Creepy stuff! I'm now listening to her and Dunning talk.
19 - She wants the "special room, the wishing room." I bet I have the one she wants. Sucker.
20 - I enter the lobby area and wander a bit. All of a sudden Kyle starts talking to himself about Dunning and the reaction he had when he heard my name.
22 - Kyle does this thinking out loud bit two more times. I guess I should have questioned Dunning while talking to him!
23 - I enter the Central Hallway and take a moment to look at the map Dunning gave me. I poke at the first floor and can scroll around the map. Lots of areas are staff only, but it all doesn't seem that large. Wonder if the game can really keep it interesting with such a small area or if it'll expand? Guess we'll see (well, you won't in this review).
24 - I head for the stairs to the second floor, a young girl is sitting on the steps. I tell her to move it or lose it but she's being uncooperative. Kids these days.
26 - This kid sure is annoying, get off the stairs already! Or just go around her, she must way like 70 pounds.
the bane of my existence
27 - I finally get by her to the second floor, time to get to my room... until someone comes out of room 213 and stops me. There sure are a lot of people just wandering the halls. This ain't a bed and breakfast.
28 - Okay, the guy went back into his room already. Guess he didn't want to talk. Halfway down the hall and Dunning comes up behind me. He's pissed at me for hassling the little girl on the stairs.
29 - He tells me to get out before he throws me out. Holy crap, did I lose?! Sad music begins to play with the girl crying to herself again.
30 - Well, it really is Game Over. Geez. I click Retry and I'm back heading up the stairs...
31 - Guess I have to be nice to the girl this time.
33 - Still talking, she says she can't finish her puzzle. What the...
34 - It's a twenty piece puzzle with like five pieces not in place, this girl is pretty stupid if she can't finish this (or the game thinks I'm stupid and don't know how to use the DS). I use the stylus to drop the pieces in place.
35 - Now the girl is upset that she didn't finish it and throws it on the floor.
37 - My Lord, this is seriously the most obnoxious conversation ever. She finally runs off laughing that she tricked me with her crying. She left a puzzle piece behind, mysterious.
38 - I walk down the hallway and the guy from 213 stumbles out again. The guy introduces himself as Jeff Angel.
40 - I ask him a few questions about the girl on the stairs, he tells me her name is Melissa, from room 219. I also ask him why he said something about looking for a cop. He says it would be cool if there was a real violent crime here. Foreshadowing?
42 - I finally get to my room, but the game doesn't just let me in, I have to use my key.
43 - I set my suitcase down and the phone rings. I walk over to it and pick it up. It's Rachel, a cute woman that Kyle must work with. They talk for a bit about trust and rumors.
45 - She asks if the package has arrived yet, I'm supposed to give her a call when it does.
46 - I regain control and check out the room.
48 - When I reach an interesting part of the room, I can examine the surroundings more carefully and the overhead map becomes the first person view of the area. There I can click on objects and either collect them or listen to what Kyle has to say.
50 - The room and bathroom are all pretty grungy, not exactly high class. The shower is clean though and there is plenty of toilet paper.
51 - Not sure what else to do so I head back out to the hallway.
52 - I decide to knock on a few doors, something I would never do in real life, but then again I would never be a traveling salesman either or be such a jerk. I knock on 219 and Melissa's father opens the door. Well, he's already shut it, doesn't want to talk I suppose. Don't blame him. I did make his daughter cry in an alternate universe.
54 - Well, not sure what else to do so I head downstairs to question Dunning about those thoughts Kyle had before.
56 - He says another guest had the name of Kyle Hyde once. Odd. Kyle says it sounds like Bradley... He was in six months ago. But why would this guy pose as me?
58 - Next, Dunning tells me about the magic of room 215. Guests get their wishes after staying there a night. I wonder what Kyle's wish is? To find Bradley? To finally get with Rachel? To actually be colored in by his artist???
60 - I finish talking with the owner and that's the end of the first hour of Hotel Dusk: Room 215. I really feel like I have no idea what to do at the moment.
Now for some scores out of 10.
Minutes to Action: 8
A mixed bag here considering I spent more than half an hour just clicking an arrow to go to the next piece of conversation. I have to give them credit though for trying out something different with the way you hold the DS. It works great for Hotel Dusk. Walking around the hotel is a breeze because you point at an overhead map with the stylus to direct Kyle. There doesn't seem to be much variation though in the actions you can do, but it's nice to be able to zoom in on a part of the room and check out every object in it individually. Goes to show how much time the developers put into the small things. It's pretty obvious the game is a plodder but it works for the first hour at least.
Fun Factor: 3
Hotel Dusk's first hour is not that much fun, a little below average, honestly. Investigating the hotel is enjoyable, but there's only so many lamps I can poke at to keep things interesting. Seriously though, the game throws way too much dialogue at you right away and it's boring, uninspired writing! Okay, I'll give the writers some credit for the opening scenes and Kyle's background, but I don't want to spend 10 minutes talking to a seven year old girl on a staircase! It's a blatant waste of my time and honestly sucks. Getting a Game Over screen in a point and click adventure game also makes little sense in this day and age, we're not playing King's Quest anymore people!
Graphics and Sound: 8
First things first, I really like the graphical style of Hotel Dusk. The backgrounds are static but the characters are hand-drawn and sort of have that Beavis and Butthead style shake to them (or if you're more of a gamer, The Last Express), which surprisingly works in this 1979 detective drama too. On the other hand (or should I say the other screen?), we have rather ugly looking 3D graphics representing Kyle Hyde's first person view of the hotel. I guess they have to be polygonal due to being able to walk around and check things out close up, but I think maybe trying something less realistic like Okami did would have been a better decision. Sound wise, the music is really good and fits the setting and the sound effects match your actions well. Not much else I can say about them. Once again, a little voice acting would have been nice but I recognize the medium, so I won't complain any more.
Because Hotel Dusk is such a story driven game, I really have to be critical here. Hotel Dusk does very little to develop itself within its first hour. It does a good job eluding at things such as Kyle's past as a cop and his history with Bradley and the mystery behind room 215 at the hotel. However, this is offset by the extremely slow pace at which things develop and the agonizingly long conversations between characters. I really think the game could have focused less on the long conversation with the owner, Dunning, and let me explore the hotel and let the setting tell its story. I won't even mention the 13 minutes it took to successfully get past the little girl on the stairs (with a game over in between). This is disappointing and makes me leery on how the game will present the rest of the story, it will no doubt be doled out very slowly and in small increments.
The bad outweighs the good here, unfortunately. Hotel Dusk's first hour is a drag to play. The story has some inspiration going for it but is blown out by the bland and never-ending dialogue. This adversely affects basically every other aspect of the game's first hour, except for the graphics. Once again, I'll note that they're very good and the pencil sketch characters are a nice change from the anime style we're seeing so much of on the DS (Trauma Center and Castlevania of note). I really had high hopes for Hotel Dusk but it seems like the game may disappoint overall. Let's hope it turns itself around.