Review by SatansBestBuddy
"An expereiment in how to make a game, realeased at full price"
Okay, I'll say this right now: Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a much, much better game.
If you're looking for an adventure game on the DS, go get that, as it's pretty much exactly what you're looking for if you're reading a review for this game.
Now that that's over with, on to why this game isn't all that good.
Details of the story, you can find elsewhere, so I'll just give you my opinion: meh. It's not that it's uninteresting, it's just that it doesn't do anything to make itself interesting. The majority of the game, you're stuck with Ashely and D, and their conversations revolve mostly around trying to solve the next puzzle, with some flashbacks into D's past thrown in here and there. The beginning of the game hinted at there being some action, but no, it's only a false impression. The story involves less than a dozen people, only five of which are related to what's going on in the here and now, and none of them are give any kind of depth or personality, or at least any that I could care about. The vast majority of the plot twists, I figured out almost a whole two chapters before they were revealed, and their revelations were nothing to get excited about even if I didn't figure it all out beforehand. Really, the story is barebones and dry, and didn't keep me motivated at all.
If you've ever played an adventure game on the PC, prepare to feel right at home. This game, if it were made for PC, would play pretty much exactly the same, save that it wouldn't have the microphone to be blown into and the two screens to be snapped shut, but since both actions are only used for all of one puzzle each, it doesn't matter as much as it should. Frankly, I find the interface annoying and unhelpful. Pixel hunting, thank the gods, isn't present, but I still find it frustrating that when I point to something, I have to hit another button to select it, which is just stupid. Why doesn't it just assume that what I pointed to is what I wanted to select and just do it right then? Why does it have to have that little button in the corner that you have to press to get things going? It's unhelpful and slows things down a great deal. Also, puzzles are typical adventure nonsense. Put the books in this order, secret door. Play the music box like this, secret door. Do this to painting, find out painting is actually, *gasp!* a secret door! All of them are so damn cliched that I didn't even try to solve most of them, I just knew what to do, presenting almost no challenge. Okay, sure, if you've never played an adventure game before, you may be challenged, but my guess is that, since there's relatively no instructions on how to solve most puzzles, or at least, I don't remember any, than you're more likely to get frustrated than challenged.
I will give it this, the art for the characters is pretty good, detailed and expressive, but it's still very average. The game world itself takes place on the bottom screen in full 3D, but it has an overhead perspective that you can't adjust, so it might as well be a 2D game, which is a shame, as for a 3D DS game, it looks pretty good. The top screen has a prerendered 3D still of every scene you come across, but most of it is pretty bland. In fact, that's pretty much exactly what this game is: bland. It's not bad, it doesn't do anything truly wrong, but it doesn't excel, either; it doesn't do anything to make itself standout from any other adventure game ever made. It's also far too short, I clocked in at 4:18 when I beat the game, and I was stuck for an hour on one puzzle I had to go online to solve! Anyway, with nothing distinctive about the art, and the prerendered stuff looking like it was made more than 15 years ago, the presentation, easily this game's strongest point, falls pretty flat.
This game is pretty much just an experiment Cing did to see how the DS works, what they could do, what works and what doesn't, and get a good handle on how to make an adventure game. As I said, right there at the beginning of the review, Cing's second effort, Hotel Dusk, is leagues better than this game, hell, it's leagues better than a lot of adventure games, easily one of the top ten best ever made, so go get that if you are looking for a good adventure, and forget this game even excists. If anything, this is simply a collector's piece to show what Cing started with on the DS, and if you want it in that respect, then go right ahead. But for anyone that wants to be entertained when they play their games, then I highly suggest you stay the hell away from this painfully average game.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 09/27/07
Game Release: Trace Memory (US, 09/27/05)
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