Should I Buy? Hotel Dusk: Room 215

Seeing as my last review made that the highest viewed day I’ve had, I’m willing to take the self-esttem hit of reviewing a game I want to talk about but nobody else will really care about. Hotel Dusk is a Japanese visual novel for the Nintendo DS that was released way back in 2007. For those of you unfamiliar with the genre of visual novels, it’s where you read a lot and occasionally wheel the character round to another conversation, item collection or simple puzzle.

Hotel Dusk puts you in the well-worn shoes of misanthrope ex-Detective Kyle Hyde as he checks into the titular establishment to collect certain items for a client of his news boss under the guise of working as a travelling salesman. Some poking around reveals that the dark and troubled past of the hotel’s occupants is related to Hyde’s own dark and troubled past. And so you have on night to solve all the mysteries and gain some closure on just what made you leave the force.

Gameplay really does consist of a lot of talking, item collection and simple puzzles. This will probably put a lot of people off, especially seeing as it lacks the visual, auditory and story flair that Ace Attorney had. The writing is at least above par for most games, and the whole thing’s designed for drama and credibility rather than humour.

The plot takes a little while to kick in, and things don’t get properly interesting until a few hours in. To its credit once it picks up and starts to actually get into the history and motivations of the various characters the stories are fairly compelling, though never really affecting. The range of characters is nice too, given that the main character is a rugged ex-cop, you may be expecting a veritable Rogue’s Gallery of criminals, snitches and policemen but instead the hotel residents are a fairly ordinary bunch that have mostly tangential relations to the larger conspiracy.

The trouble is that the between sections tend to slow down the momentum that gets built up in these sections. And with the game being so linear, you can easily find yourself walking around for ages looking for the item you need to pickup or examine, or simply where the next conversation takes place. I hesitate to say the game has ‘puzzles’, because they’re very simple. The thing I had the most trouble with was lifting up a cabinet to get a piece of paper stuck underneath, because lifting it too far made it come crashing down.

The plot is worth it for those of you who’re looking for a storytelling experience, just don’t expect anything exceptional. If you want that, go play Ace Attorney.

The art style certainly has its charms, the music is nicely melodic if unspectacular and the whole holding the DS on its side like a book is a nice touch that allows the game to be more comfortable to play and allows the game to present itself much better than it would have otherwise.

Overall this is a C+/B- game but it’s difficult to find things in this genre outside of Japan. It’s serviceable if you really can’t get or have already played better titles like Ghost Trick, Ace Attorney and Broken Sword.

Price: (CEX) £10


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