Review by Chocobahn

Reviewed: 07/09/07

Sorry, no presidential suite available in this hotel.

What is so exciting about Hotel Dusk? It's not like it's a 5 star hotel with heated pool, presidential suite and a panoramic view. Instead, you're in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by total strangers in a run-down hotel with a history.

Hotel Dusk is by no mean an exciting hotel to stay in, but it is the people and their stories that keep the hotel running.

***** Plot *****

The year was 1979. An ex-cop, Kyle Hyde, worked as a door-to-door salesman for a company called Red Crown. One day, he was told by his boss, Ed, to go to Hotel Dusk that was in the middle of nowhere.

Upon arriving at the place, 'things' started to happen. A guest by the same name apparently stayed at the hotel six months ago. The owner claimed that the room Kyle was staying in, Room 215, could grant wishes for those who stayed. Thus, the title of the game.

Our hero, a down-to-Earth ex-cop, obviously did not believe that. He ended up staying in Room 215 anyway. As the story progressed, Kyle met the hotel guests. Each one of them has a secret, even Kyle....

This is a text driven game, thus there is a lot of dialogue to go through. The story is, unfortunately, a bit slow at times. But for those who have the patience, it is a rewarding experience. Don't expect the story to be out of this world. It's not an epic story and character development is minimal.

Your movement is confined in the hotel. So expect a lot of moving around from room to room. The puzzles are not always straight forward, and can be frustrating sometimes.

***** Gameplay *****

Control is very simple. Much like "Brain Age", the DS is held like a book.

Depends on which hand you hold your chopsticks, or stylus, you can adjust which side the touch screen is on. Assuming you're right handed, as 9 out of 10 of us are, an overhead map will be displayed on the right (touch screen) and the first person's perspective 3D-ish environment will be shown on the left.

You use the stylus or the D-pad to walk around the hotel and if available, you can interact with things or people with one of the 4 icons located at the bottom of the screen. Most of the time you will be engaged in a conversation. It is just a matter of going through the conversation and chooses between two choices.

During a conversation, a yellow triangle might appear from time to time. You can ask more questions by clicking on the triangle. Sometimes a question may pop up during the conversation which is saved till the end. At the end of the conversation, you can double click on the question to ask the hotel guest. More conversation ensues.

When interacting with things, it's as easy as touching the screen. The control is self explanatory and very easy to use. One thing I don't like is that if you use the stylus to go through a conversation, you need to click on that tiny arrow at the bottom right corner to continue. I much prefer clicking anywhere on the screen to continue. Also, there is a lot of double tapping. First tap to choose the option and the second tap for confirmation.

***** Graphics *****

Graphics is nothing to write home about. In fact, the 3D models are rough and pixelated. This is a major let down. The colour is washed out, and characters are represented by nothing more than cut-out cardboards.

The art improves when you engage in a conversation. The characters are drawn in black and white 2D sprites. Animations are limited to sprites movements. In this day and age of 3D real-time graphics and other fancy stuff, you would think that 2D sprites are dull, especially in B&W. While I agree that B&W is dull, I thought it makes the characters stand out. They are fairly well drawn.

I would like to see the character sprites in colour though, but you can't have everything.

***** Sound *****

The music score is not something that will win awards. It not something that will instantly grab your attention. Lots of them are jazz. Sound is adequate. There is not much sound effect, really. You do hear phone ringing, banging on doors, etc. It is enough to get you through. In fact, you can play this game quite comfortably in silence if you so desired.

***** Replay Value *****

This is a text-based game. There is no alternative path to choose from. Even choosing different dialogue will either get a game over, or ends up back to the same choices as before where it will force you to choose the 'right' one.

It's a linear game, you can't steer away from the pre-determined path. Even when you know what you need to do, you can't do it until you've completed some other unrelated task that moves the story along. You hardly miss anything the first time round, if at all. As such there is not much replay value to speak of. You might want to play it again to digest the full story, but otherwise, I don't see any reason why you want to replay it.

***** Overall *****

This game is certainly not for everyone. It's not fast pace; no action to speak of; but lots of dialogues to go through. If you have left it for too long, you might forget where in the game you're up to. Where it excels is the story telling. The narrative might be slow, and there seem to be a lot to keep track of, especially when nothing seems to be connected. But you will be rewarded if you have the patience and the will.

While this game will not appeal to fans who like gun blazing, sword hacking heroes, it is an interesting concept. Treat this as a visualised novel, and you are good to go.

Good:

* Interesting plot
* Good character design
* Good for those who like mystery novels

Bad:

* Lots and lots of dialogue
* Slow narrative
* Rough and pixelated graphics

Score (out of 10)

Plot: 7
Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 6
Sound: 6
Replay: 3

Overall: 7


Rating:   3.5 - Good

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