You'll have to turn your DS vertically to play this game, resembling opening a book. Put on your reading glasses and prepare yourself for a captivating mystery novel… uh, I mean game.
You play as Kyle Hyde, an ex-cop who has been searching for his old partner, Bradley for several years. He now works as a salesman and checks into a sleazy run-down Hotel, Hotel Dusk and stays at room 215, known as the Wish Room, able to grant a wish to whoever stays in it. There he encounters many events, which he believes is all part of a greater mystery that would help him unravel the reason behind Bradley's disappearance.
The first thing that captivated me about this game was its amazing art style. The characters movements are smooth and their expressions are extremely precise. It's a nice change to see a Japan produced game not have characters having the distinct ‘anime’ look. All the characters are realistic looking, and their expressions reflect their personalities well.
The game has amazing attention to detail, it's set in the 70s and all the objects in the hotel, the people, even the music reflect this setting. Also, the dialogue is extremely fluid and well presented. Forget those terribly translated Japanese RPGs with humour that you never could understand. Hotel Dusk is set in New York, so everyone talks like they're supposed to. Also, the entire script is like a gold mine of quirky and unforgettable quotes. The protagonist, Kyle Hyde's internal dialogue is interesting and entertaining as well.
The gameplay… consists mostly of tapping the screen to advance to the next line of dialogue. But you do get to explore the entire Hotel Dusk during your stay, pick up objects, solve puzzles, and play a few mini-games. The gameplay only takes up about a quarter of the time you're playing the game, the rest is reading time.
The good thing is that the game is split into 10 bite-size chapters, and each chapter has a clear objective and resolution. It's also great for on-the-go gaming as each chapter takes around 30 minutes. Another great feature is that you can save at almost any time. But the story's so intriguing you'll probably run through the game in one day.
The biggest problem with this game is its lack of replay value. Once you finish the game, there are no hidden features or side quests for you to do. The plot has no branching points, and although you're given ‘choices’, they always lead to the same outcome. Even so, the game is worth purchasing because it's truly a gem, and if you enjoy a good story you'll probably end up playing it again, just like you'd reread a good book.
Hotel Dusk is an underrated gem that's not going to appeal to everyone, but is rewarding to all who would take the time to play it to the end.