Hotel Dusk: Room 215
Review By: Joe

It's important to understand that if you own a PSP and not a Nintendo DS, you've done something wrong. At some point in your life, you lost sight of what's good in the world and began to settle for poop. It's one thing to accidentally slip and fall on some poop. It's another thing to outright choose poop over glory. And if someone bestowed poop upon you without your input on the matter, i.e. you were given a PSP as a gift? Well, you should really be questioning whether or not this person is a positive influence on your life. There's a very good chance they actually want you dead.

That said, I was once a very sad person, then I sold my PSP to the internet and now I'm not very sad, just regular sad, like the kind you can function on as long as you push it way down? Also, I went and used my money on a DS and a buttload of games that I've barely even gotten a chance to play. But one of the newer ones I have played is that there Hotel Dusk: Room 215 by a company named Cing, which is the most boring developer name ever and makes me think of some company that makes spreadsheet software or something.

Now I love me some adventure games. Like the old school Lucasarts and Sierra ones where you click on things and pick up random crap and use it on other crap to make stuff happen. Therefore, I am drawn, like a ho to cucumbers and oversized novelty pencils, to anything that even mildly resembles those games of yore that will, for the briefest of moments, allow me to recapture my youth before I was forced to interact with the real world and everything got all lame and stinky.

The sweet art style in this game will fool you into thinking you are a member of A-Ha.

SO! This game is pretty great. It's about a former cop who is out searching for his former two-timing partner and has tracked him to this hotel. I don't remember the name of the hotel. Haha, I'm kidding, guys.

The gameplay itself is this close to being non-existant. You walk your character around by positioning the stylus at a point in front of him and then you touch icons to go into close-up views of stuff, at which point you can touch objects to examine them more closely. When you approach another character, you engage in conversation with them. This is what the game really is: a whoooole lotta talkin'.

This game is almost entirely dependent on its story to the point that it's almost not a game, but some kind of choose-your-own-adventure book. To wit, you even hold the DS upright like a book and the official site refers to the game as an "interactive mystery novel." Luckily, this is easily one of the most interesting and well-written storylines I've ever encountered in a video game.

The protagonist, Kyle Hyde, is an awesome character in the style of the classic noir hero. He's fairly closed off to other people and will flat-out tell people when he doesn't like them. The writing in the game is surprisingly above average and sometimes Kyle's straightforwardness is genuinely funny. For example, there's one line that's something like, "It means you're an idiot. And here's another reason I'm right" and "The TV's broken? What a wonderful hotel this is."

Ohh, I don't know...

Another thing that's cool is that, this being a game and all, you get a lot of alone time (KISSY KISSY) with Mr. Hyde and you get to hear his inner monologue and all, so, although he's all brash, grr-grr, noir hero, he's also vulnerable, WICKED vulnerable, and you get to see all that wussy junk.

Every other character has a backstory as well, one that ties into the overall plot, but they're all reluctant to reveal their pasts. Thus, the game basically boils down to gradually unraveling each character's character, usually one person per chapter.

Now, you do have some influence on these conversations. Yes, you do just watch and read a lot of the time, but you also have dialogue options that alter the direction the conversation takes and sometimes an icon will pop up that you can touch to have Kyle interrupt the conversation and pose a question. Speaking to people will often prompt Kyle to think up questions to ask and then you'll later have the option of bringing them up. Additionally, you sometimes need to present people with items to see how they react to them.

That's kind of it! It's fairly simple stuff, but it works pretty well. Of course, there are some problems.

This is sort of supposed to be an adventure game so one would expect to have to solve puzzles, but they prove themselves to be a rare occurrence. For one thing, yes, ideally I'd rather have an adventure game than a interactive mystery novel that is an adventure game once in awhile, but that's fine. The thing that is too bad is that, most of the time, when you actually are presented with a puzzle, it's one of the most out of place bits of the game and forces you to suspend your disbelief more than usual. OH! THIS LITTLE GIRL IS BLOCKING THE STAIRS, but she is working on a jigsaw puzzle. IF I FINISH THE PUZZLE SHE WILL LEAVE. Say, couldn't you just squeeze past the girl? I mean, how fat is she? Really, now.

This game is full of A-Ha hottiez. I'm now sorry I typed that.

Another issue with the puzzles is that they're usually either way too easy or completely illogical. I had to look up how to solve one of the only REAL puzzles in the entire game and I feel like it never would've occurred to me what to do had I kept at it on my own. Most of the other puzzles have the irritating tendency to have blatant solutions (for example, one where you need the label off of a bottle so you get, what else, an adhesive remover), but are often made harder by the rather cheap technique of not letting you pick up what you need until you need it. Sometimes the answer is so easy it's stupid, but you don't think of it until you remember, "Oh yeah, they wouldn't let me pick that shit up before." I suppose you do have the option of making notes in your notebook, but you only get three pages and I'm bad at writing small, ok?

Another thing that might've been nice is if, when you're given dialogue options, you got more than two. Every time you are prompted with a dialogue option, you only get two choices and with the majority of them there's a clear distinction between the "sensible" option and the "be a huge dick" option. It does work pretty well, as there are times when you have to be aware that being a dick is more beneficial or other times when the two options aren't as clear cut and require more intuition on your part, but I think it would've been that much more challenging if you got three responses. But then the game already has like twelve endings so maybe I don't know what I'm getting myself into here. TURN BACK, JOSEPHINE.

Oh, and just to scare you off from the game more, you can't completely skip text at any point. In fact, unless you've seen something before, you can't even make the text go all that quickly. This works, I must say. It makes sense that they slow it down enough so that one can absorb it all and stick with all the twists of the plot. It's just that the fact remains that I'm able to read fast enough that it'd be nice to have the option to read every text box in one blow, rather than wait for it to finish typing out.

So, yeah, this game is barely a game, but I think it's a major achievement, simply because video game stories are very rarely this intriguing and cohesive. If you're one of those impatient cockgobblers who can't even be arsed to read the tutorial text at the beginning of a game, don't go anywhere near this one. It really is this close to being a cool noir novel. I tend to only play it on my commute, just because it's so well-suited to taking up my time and attention then. Also, I don't mind turning off the sound because once in awhile the music is impressive, but that's pretty rare. In fact, it's often cheesy enough that the sound of it, coupled with the totally dialogue-based gameplay, gets me to worrying that this is only a few steps away from being a hentai game, sans the payoff of drawings of naked girls getting doused with various bodily fluids.

Let me rephrase that. I've never played a hentai game.

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