Game: Hotel Dusk Room 215

by Mike Morier

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (Box Art)

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 has been heralded by many as the second coming of the point-and-click adventure games of old (the type that would assuage our sadistic wants with an authoritative “Cannot use Pet Bunny with Rusty Chainsaw”). Though Mavis Beacon may have had a stranglehold on the steno pools of our nation in the mid-eighties, a great many of the era’s electric youth (myself included) learned to type by playing games of this sort. The next evolution came with the home computer industry’s steady adherence to the mouse. Hence, “point-and-click” came to mean just that. Is Hotel Dusk the long-awaited next iteration of the genre, or just another golden calf?

Well, neither. While the game doesn’t offer enough in the way of evolution to defy its predecessors, it does represent a welcome return to the fold for that favourite bastion of the 4-colour set.

The game puts you in the gumshoes of Kyle Hyde, a former detective now masquerading as a traveling salesman. You check into the titular Hotel Dusk just after Christmas in the tail end of the seventies. Ostensibly, you’re there to peddle your wares, but another more secretive facet of your job is to find things that go missing. It happens that you too are missing someone: your ex-partner and turncoat Bradley. From check-in to checkout, the story unfolds much like an interactive novel (and in keeping with that, you play the game by tilting your DS sideways like a book), with a variety of fairly rich characters and environments. Mysteries abound and it’s up to you to solve them.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 Screenshot 1

All of the inhabitants of the hotel are presented as black and white sketch animations. The most oft-used comparison is to the A-ha video for “Take On Me” and it turns out to be entirely accurate. These run on loops of only a handful of sequences, but they do a very good job of indicating the mood and reactions of the characters. The lack of colour also does a service to these animations (aside from giving them a film noir feel), as the character avatars will literally turn a bright shade of crimson when your line of questioning is leading you towards an endgame. Yes, you can lose the game if you ask the wrong questions or make the wrong accusations. Rest easy, as you’ll be able to resume from the start of the conversation or from your previous save point if you fail.

The rooms in the hotel are three-dimensional for the most part. You will have free reign to move around the hotel, either with the stylus or the control pad. Lefties can flip the DS around and use the buttons to navigate. An icon will activate when something can be investigated, at which point you can pan the camera from left to right. Kyle will then offer a brief description (often with requisite witty banter) of any highlighted item.

When something might prove useful to the over-arching story, (“Use Pet Bunny with Rusty Chainsaw”) you will be taken to a more interactive screen. It’s in these trials where the game is most evolved and uses the touch-screen to the fullest effect. You’ll be required to solve several puzzles: from literally solving a child’s puzzle, to rifling through the trash for a hidden item. There are many more involving interactions to be had, but revealing them might spoil the story. Also of interest is the fact that you can take notes with the stylus at any time throughout the game, however this might not be such a blessing if your in-game handwriting is as bad as mine.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 Screenshot 2

My main gripe with the game is that despite a few branching paths here and there, it’s quite linear and very much “on rails”. I became stuck once or twice for nearly an hour when it was obvious that the game wanted me to do one specific thing to set the plot in motion. During these times, everyone in the hotel would vanish. There would be nobody in the halls and doors would remain conspicuously unanswered. The game would basically stop and I’d become wholly aware that I was indeed playing a piece of software.

Overall, this is a great game. It will certainly appeal to fans of the genre or anybody looking for an interactive novel-like experience. I can only hope that games like this continue to be released and that we’re lucky enough to see resurgence in these titles.

  • Game: Hotel Dusk Room 215
  • by Mike Morier
  • Published on February 20th, 2007
Game System: Nintendo DS
Launch Date: January 24, 2007
ESRB: T (Teen): Mild Language, Mild Violence, Use of Alcohol
Game Type: Interactive Novel
Players: 1
Developer: Cing

More from :

Other recent features: