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 411mania » Games » Columns

Overlooked 1.24.14: Hotel Dusk: Room 215
Posted by Cara Alex Brown on 01.24.2014

Howdy folks. How's your week been? Good? Good. I've had a good week. Despite having to get an electrician out 3 times, once at 11pm, and having no lights for 3 days! Due to the the electricity problems, I've had to write this later than I would have liked, but I hope it's still an enjoyable read!

Due to having just come back to college again after winter break and being given all of my new briefs to work on (do American's call them briefs?) I've not had much time for gaming, sadly. I haven't even had the time to test out my newly acquired ZX Spectrum, but as far as I can see it's in perfect condition.

I had quite a few commenter's last week who weren't names I recognised which made me happy, it's nice to see that my column may be beginning to reach a wider audience! I had a few lovely messages about my column to my Tumblr as well, so it all seems to be going good! And on that note, onto last weeks comments:

The Look Back

Let's start with the ever frequent,

sdelfin - Another good read, Cara. I had not heard of this game before. I like the concept. The time travelling and preventing your own death is interesting. I get the impression the game is very cinematic, which can be a negative for me as I don't like to feel like I am watching the game more than playing it. Some games do that better than others. Coincidentally, I just got a PSP last month and I like the look of UMD cases on a shelf, so I may just try this one out if I can get a killer deal on it

It didn't happen this week! My laptop is learning!
Always good to hear from you, and even better when I found out I've managed to spy a game you don't know. The cinematics in the game tend to be a chunk at the start and end of each chapter, but it can be a tad too cinematic for your average player. I guess I'm just fond of cinematics from years of playing Kingdom Hearts and games of the like! I would definitely try and get it, it's a nice obscure piece to have plus it's definitely worth a play-through. The multiple endings and twists in the story give it a decent replay ability which is a bonus too.

Katamari Damacy - It was a great concept. I never had the pleasure of playing though. Capcom did revitalize this concept somewhat with Ghost Trick.

First off, I'm not sure if you're under the impression that Capcom did this game, or if you're just comparing the concept (likely the latter, but you can never be too sure!) but either way, I'll have to look into Ghost Trick! However, if you're looking for a similar concept to be taken further, the original writer and director of Shadow of Memories created another time-travelling game called "Time Hollow" for the DS in 2008, which could be worth a look!

DSF - Shadow of Destiny really needs to be re-released on the PlayStation Network. That would be awesome.

As much as I would like to agree, I'd hate to see it become another almost completely ignored title on the PSN. I doubt many people would want to play it on a next gen console, so I fear its days may be limited to old gen and PC platforms.

Shockmaster - This is one of my most beloved missed gems. I strongly concur that everyone who can get their hands on a copy needs to give it a playthrough or three. Before today I never knew it went by anything but Shadow of Destiny.
Without spoiling anything, one of the really fun elements in the game is that when you use time travel to alter things to prevent your own death, it directly impacts the following chapter, i.e. the things you do to save yourself also create an unforeseen new peril you then end up dealing with. It's brilliantly constructed and a rare case of time travel not leaving the viewer/player confused.

It's nice to see another enthusiast! Sadly, a lot of people over in the US never even realise that things are often pointlessly renamed for them. I can understand renaming things that are genuinely completely different but memories to destiny is just unneccessary in my opinion! The action > reaction concept definitely creates the bulk of this game's brilliance though, and you've definitely hit the nail on the head there. I just hope you never had the misfortune of achieving ending C!

And thank you to the others that replied, on 411, facebook or elsewhere! It definitely is a great game and I'm so happy to see so many people appreciate it, but alas, that is last weeks column now, and it's time to move on!


This weeks title is a 2007 DS detective story, Hotel Dusk: Room 215. This game is massively complimented by reviewers due to its incredibly written storyline, undetectable plot twists, natural dialogue with distinct character differences and quirky art style. The game features around Kyle Hyde, an ex-detective who quit the force after business with his partner and became a door-to-door salesman for an old friend of his dad's - Ed Vincent. However, things are not all as they seem, as Hyde's not simply a salesman. On the side of a sales business, Ed runs a detective business of his own. Often clients come to him to "find things that don't want to be found, if you know what I mean?" and it's Hyde's job to find them. This takes you to a beat up old hotel, known as Hotel Dusk, but what you discover there is a lot more complex than what it first appears.

What Makes it Overlooked?

Genuinely, how many people want to play detective games nowadays? It's sad, but true. Most gamers these days care only about action, and a complex story filled, puzzle focussed detective game is not up most peoples alleys. On top of this, there wasn't a massive deal of publicity. Although most of the reviews that were given were good, there aren't as many as your average game. To top this off, quite a few reviewers claimed it was too complex and "patronising" due to the quizzing system at the end of every chapter.

Do I Agree?

It's hard not to agree that the appeal of detective games is somewhat lacking these days. This is not helped by the mass amount of "find the object" games that grow more and more tiresome with each release. Very few find the object detective games are particularly interesting, but due to the mass bulk of detective stories being done in this manner, many people just assume they all are and overlook it completely. Sadly, this means that the absolute brilliance of Hotel Dusk is missed. I have to disagree completely with the claim of the game being "patronising". At the end of every chapter, Hyde - or you - sit down to go over everything that has happened that chapter to make sure the player has understood it, and this is done in the form of a quiz. This allows you to review the key points of information and ensure you're following everything properly. I can't find this patronising in any way, and feel as though the only way you could struggle and grow to resent these quizzes is if you're simply not paying attention to a heavily story based game, so you don't know how to answer the questions in the first place.

Looking at the Overlooked

Well, I've already spoken about a decent bit of the basics, but I feel as though I should give a proper summary. As mentioned before, you play as ex-cop Kyle Hyde - a salesman/private investigator of sorts. On the request of your boss and long time friend, Dunning, you head out to a shabby hotel known as Hotel Dusk and are approached with a request. This request is a rather odd one and asks you to find two rather obscure items with no reason as to why: a small red box, and a magazine with a specific model on the cover. Armed with this information, you begin to explore through the hotel, question and learn about the other guests and discover the in-depth story lines surrounding each one.

The game-play style involves you holding the DS on its side, similar to a book, and is worked fully with the stylus instead of a stylus-button combo like many. To manoeuvre around the game, you simply drag your character cursor around on the mini map that's shown on the touch screen. Doing this will allow you to see the real game art moving in first person on the opposing screen. To progress through the game, a lot of the functionality is simply tap-selecting different dialogue options to unravel the truth, however there are many mini games that need to be overcome along the way. This includes picking locks, classic matches puzzles, solving problems and more. The easily functionality of the game makes it accessible for players of all capabilities and allows your focus to remain on the ever-interactive storyline.

The design of the game is somewhat unique as well. It features detailed, coloured backgrounds that appear like paintings that are contrasted with hand drawn, black and white characters. These characters have a sketchy appearance that looks as if it was simply drawn on plain paper, and this sketched appearance is only enhanced by the every moving sketch lines and small details that give the characters movement and bring them to life. With this combination, the game style becomes completely gorgeous, with environments that feel real and inclusive but characters that make it feel as though you've jumped right into a captivating novel. This game truly manages something rare, to make you feel both like you're there yourself, and that you're witnessing a story.

The sound track and effects also add to the games appeal. None of the sound appears cliché or unfitting, and the characters are left without voices so you can interpret them as you wish. Despite this, the voices and pronunciation of the characters comes across incredibly clearly so you're not left wondering about each characters individuality, as the dialogue is brilliantly written and the facial expressions and crudely but fantastically drawn movements of the characters simply enhance their uniqueness.

As you progress you'll begin to unravel many different stories as you explore the hotel - that really, is more of a motel.

What happened between your partner, Bradley, and you? You discover at the very start of the game that he went rogue and, as a result, Hyde shot him. But is there more to the story?

Who is this girl Mila who is in the hotel, and why doesn't she have any memories?

The Bellhop, Louis, seems familiar. Don't you know him from your days in the NYPD? And what is he doing out here?

Why is each hotel room named? And does your room, room 215 that is named "Wish", really grant wishes as the myth says? Hyde definitely doesn't think so.

And what on earth is the deal with the small red box?

All of these story lines unfold in ways that are almost impossible to predict along with the stories of many more characters that are all very intelligently tied together and result in a very satisfying experience.

Honestly, I feel like I'm beginning to just ramble on about how good different games are, but I feel as though it's better to introduce you to games that I feel are truly brilliant as opposed to complaining for 2K words.
I whole heartedly hope that someone plays this having read this review, or that others may be reminded of it fondly and perhaps play it again. I'm tempted to right now.

The game also has a sequel called "Last Window: The Secret of Cape West" that gives more insight into Hyde's past, including his ex-crook father, and follows the same game-play style as mentioned above. It's brilliantly written just like its predecessor and, should you enjoy Hotel Dusk, I would advise you to get your hands on a copy of Last Window as soon as possible.

That's it for this week! If you have a suggestion for a game for next week, I'd love to hear it. If not, then I'll see you next week for whatever I decide to write about!

Have a good week!

PS - To see more about the game check out hoteldusk.com, luckily the game has its own website and gives a bit of insight into the story, characters and graphics mentioned above!


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