After owning Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for nearly a year I finally got around to finishing this bizarrely entertaining game. Done in the style of adventure games of 'yore, Hotel Dusk is the second effort from Cing, makers of Trace Memory (Another Code). Fortunately, it's safe to say that in all respects Hotel Dusk is a significant improvement over Trace. Refined controls, challenging puzzles, and a more likeable cast can be considered the real steps forward for Dusk. Despite a rather lackluster showing of adventure games on the platform thus far, Dusk definitely makes it's case heard. Is this is the best game on the NDS? I can't say, but it's sure up there.
Hotel Dusk follows the story of ex-cop Kyle Hyde who now pays the bills as a traveling salesman. Pretty awesome, no? As a side job Kyle Hyde actively pursues his old partner, known simply as Bradley, who betrayed him years ago and is the main reason he left the force. So now Hyde has shown up at Hotel Dusk on a job from his employer. The plot thickens significantly and soon we find out that everyone in this hotel is connected and has ulterior motives behind their stay at Dusk. The story is one of the game's highest points. The writing is right on the mark and the dialogue definitely gives each character an unmistakeably human quality. Despite what I felt to be a strange ending I can't fault the storytelling in any other way.
Dusk is modeled after the old point and click formula and uses this concept very well. The NDS hardware is perfect for this kind of gameplay and Cing takes full advantage of this. On the top screen is a picture of the area you're in and on the bottom is a bare-bones map of the hotel. Using the stylus you can move around the hotel rather quickly and solving puzzles is fun and interactive. While the usability of the microphone is questionable all the puzzles retain a unique feel.
Hotel Dusk is shamelessly noir. Featuring an almost entirely jazzy soundtrack the music is repetitive but enjoyable enough. The real draw for many will be the interesting art style incorporated into Dusk. While the environments and items are styled realistically the characters are drawm and animated in a style most reminiscent of that cheesy, old a-ha video. Despite this strange reference I found the art work very functional and visually appealing. The characters always appear to moving and the style makes Hyde look almost humourously scruffy and noir.
All is good in the world of Hotel Dusk and I recommend this adventure highly. The charmingly adventure tone is great, but the likeable cast is what really makes this game. Despite a few shortcomings in the pacing department there are very few faults to be found in Hotel Dusk.