GET YOUR GAME ON
Story makes ‘Hotel Dusk’ worth a visit
Interactivity is the name of the game for Nintendo lately, and this game for the DS definitely delivers.
Set in 1979 and hearkening to the film noir style of the 1940s, "Hotel Dusk" follows Kyle Hyde, a cop-turned-traveling-salesman who's secretly searching for Brian Bradley, his former partner who turned out to be on the take and disappeared soon after.
"Hotel Dusk: Room 215"
Rated T for Teen
Kyle stays at the title hotel in the course of his new job, and he finds that the place -- and some of the people in it -- might hold clues to heating up Bradley's cold trail, but he has just one night to unravel all the threads.
Billed as a "interactive mystery novel," the game requires you to hold the DS turned 90 degrees from its usual position so the two hinged halves open like a book. While the buttons and D-pad can be used, all actions can also be controlled using the stylus, with options for left- or right-handed play.
It also includes a handy in-game notebook in which you can write down important points. Just be extra careful not to accidentally tap the "erase page" button absurdly placed right next to the "pencil" command.
At certain points during conversation, you must choose a response from two options. Depending on your choice, you could be on the way to getting the skinny on Bradley or getting your keister kicked out of the hotel for a "game over."
"Hotel Dusk" starts slowly, literally: It opens with a long conversation with the hotel owner, and the scrolling of the words is slower than most people's reading speed. I've been told that keeping the L or R button (depending on your handedness) pressed speeds up the words, but I saw no difference when doing so.
The game's initial interactivity is trivial and unimaginative. Early on, Kyle fills out a form, and the scene is interrupted to bring up a picture of the owner offering you a pen, which you pick up by double-tapping it with the stylus. (Similar cut-scenes occur throughout the game, such as retrieving your notebook or a room key that someone hands to you.) It then cuts to the form, which you simply slide the stylus across before the game fills out the information automatically. Perhaps great for interactivity nuts, but rather superfluous in the whole scheme of the game.
The interactions needed to solve puzzles later do get more engaging, though you're often moving blind and have to guess how to manipulate objects.
But the diverse cast, their delightful characterization and snappy dialogue -- at times biting, clichéd or humorous, but all perfectly portraying each personality -- make up for the flaws in this point-and-click adventure. That, along with the lounge-inspired music, capture the flavor of that noirish detective era. By the time Kyle's long night is over, you'll have spent many more enjoying "Hotel Dusk."