went home the other week, which of course means i got to play through some handheld games. in this particular case, cing’s hotel dusk: room 215 on the DS. i’ve enjoyed the few point-and-click type games i’ve played, and although i’d read about how much reading there is in this game i was looking forward to seeing more of the uniquely awesome art style (often compared to the classic a-ha music video “take on me”, although it also has a similar feel to the movie waking life). overall the game, although not a classic for the ages, didn’t disappoint.
the review at ign is pretty representative of what most reviewers seemed to say, namely that this really is more of an interactive mystery novel than a video game. the few puzzles are all fairly straightforward, and there’s generally little sense of freedom, a bit too much handholding, and a general sense that the text could have been streamlined a bit. but the big draw is that this novel has a story that by novel standards may not be that remarkable, but by video game standards is unusually compelling. the even bigger draw is that the characters of hotel dusk, which in a novel would only reach a certain level of immediacy, are completely brought to life here through the fantastic artwork and the script’s spot-on characterizations. this cast of characters is easily one of the most engrossing and memorable i’ve encountered in a video game thus far, so much so that i’m sure i wasn’t the only one who got to the end and immediately wished for a sequel with more time to spend with even the minor characters. not to mention the fantastic atmosphere (an adroit blending of classic film noir with america in the late 70’s that works amazingly well, especially given the fact this was created in japan), great game interface, and perfectly synchronized music, along with masterful little touches like the timing of camera angles, the lingering closeups, and the looks exchanged between characters that all add tangible amounts of polish to the game overall.
the game’s ending is open-ended enough to make a direct sequel a possibility, and if the gameplay opens up to expand the intrigue of the first game to bring it to an international level it could have loads of potential. in an interview on nintendo’s european site the creators hint at a sequel: “As for Mr. Hyde – we think that he is also looking forward to meeting you again.” here’s hoping!
looks like hotel dusk is a game that inspires fan worship, as evidenced by all these links!
– unofficial soundtrack: RAWK
– fansite: one of the funniest fansites i’ve ever come across, includes sections on characters and items. also, be sure to reload the “important notes” page to see all of hyde’s notebook.
– the entry at wikipedia has some info on the endings, as does this forum’s thread
– discussion at the hotel dusk board at gamefaqs.com
– community at livejournal, full of not-so-secret kyle hyde admirers
– someone typed up the whole script! yeah, there’s always someone out there more obsessed than you
– FAQ at ign
– another FAQ at ign: this one includes transcripts of all the in-game chapter summaries
– video of the ending, at youtube
– official blog (in japanese, drat)
– official site: includes a coupla wallpapers