#767: Hotel Dusk: Room 215

Posted: 10th January 2014 by Jeroen in Games
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299th played so far

256px-Hotel_DuskGenre: Adventure
Platform: DS
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Cing
Publisher: Nintendo

As common as adventures are – their lack of action usually making it more playable for handheld gaming in particular – most of the bigger example tend to be a bit tongue in cheek, funny, and while they build a good story, there’s some levity clearly present.

This seems less present in Hotel Dusk: Room 215, which claims a fairly serious, film-noir inspired game and storyline. Perhaps taking itself a bit too seriously, but we’ll see how that pans out.

Our Thoughts

Here’s one of my bigger bugbears with any adventure game: making a game unwinnable through a single mistake and taking ages to tell you. It’s a staple in the old Sierra adventures – in one of the King’s Quest games, if you don’t pick up an item early in the game, you’ll be in trouble in the endgame – with no hints or ways to recover in between. Frequent saving may help with this, but you’d still need to replay from that point (and hope you haven’t forgotten anything) – assuming you realised what went wrong. A problem we also had with The Last Express so we got fed up and used a walkthrough for hints.

All of this is to explain why I gave up relatively early on in the game. I used a wrong sentence in a conversation somewhere, and after doing more work, I suddenly got a game over because of my (rather unclear) sentence selection. Whoops, replay several steps of the game. Sorry.

Conversations are slow – they’re long, parts feel totally irrelevant, and each sentence takes ages to show up. Oh, but don’t dare look away – if you look away you may miss a quick time event and miss out valuable information. Yeah, it rather sucks, and as most conversations feel like they last half an hour, it becomes a drag.

Navigation and exploring feel equally sluggish, with opening a door taking three or four taps, trying to create multiple options, but a lot of it getting in the way.

The thing is, once you get past this awkwardness, there is a pretty fun game there. The puzzles are challenging and you need to do a lot of searching to figure out what’s where. The character interaction (though awkward) is done well, creating interesting characters and putting in a lot of back story and variety. The graphics in particular are interesting – rotoscoped, drawn art of actual human movement. It creates an interesting feel, combining realistic movement with clearly artificial characters. It’s slightly unsettling, but mostly does look wonderful.

The in-game graphics are blurrier, but suffice for most exploration. I think one of the difficulties here is that we’ve been playing this on a larger screen than the game was developed for, making it more obvious. Still, considering how many assets seem reused, it does look like there is more that could be done here.

Thing is, I could have made it past all of this, if it wasn’t for this first bit. If I knew I could finish the game by just investing more time, that’d be better. But having to replay potentially large parts of the game because I may have missed them just felt a step too far. Shame. I was enjoying the story.

Final Thoughts

Hotel Dusk, as an adventure, doesn’t align with my sensibilities. I’m a Lucasarts fan, not as much a Sierra fan, and I enjoy being able to keep going to explore, rather than no-win situations around every corner. Even more of a shame, it felt like it was such a concious choice here, that I wish they’d have gone this way so I would be more interested in continuing to explore the hotel of secrets.