Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a game that is a definite work of art. Love it or hate it, that can't be denied. I had a very rocky relationship with this game during my playthrough. It took me several weeks to get through what really shouldn't be a terribly long game. My problem, which I'll explain later, was that it was simultaneously one of the most interested and least exciting games I've ever played. It's artistic af, though.
Hotel Dusk is 1/3 puzzle game and 2/3 mystery novel. You play as Kyle Hyde, a somewhat cynical man who left the NYPD under less-than-glamorous circumstances to become a traveling salesman out west, although your employer also has you do work on the same finding things. What things? All things. We should have Hyde look for Hillary's e-mails and the hundreds of thousands of Democratic voter registrations that up and vanished last year. -political salt intensifies- ANYWAY. You get sent to Hotel Dusk to find some shit, and all of a sudden, every coincidence in the universe happens. Or is it coincidence?
As you play, you'll start to unravel numerous seemingly unrelated mysteries, all the while discovering that they actually tie in to one another in some way. The writing is truly brilliant, and that's definitely the game's strong point. Even if you don't care for the gameplay, you need to stick around for the writing (even if it takes you a while like it did for me). The art style is also extremely unique and really fits the game. The (mostly) monochrome design of the characters gives the whole game a very 20th Century noire feel that fits the theme of the narrative perfectly. While most of the music is fairly forgettable in my opinion, two songs in particular REALLY stand out - the music that plays during the recap quiz at the end of chapter and the music when you're asking a character extremely plot-centric questions (denoted by red question marks on the top screen as opposed to the yellow question marks of ancillary questions or the white question marks of the miscellaneous questions). Those two tunes in particular are extremely catchy and will almost without fail get stuck in your head.
My biggest complaint with the game is the pacing. I found myself feeling utterly unmotivated to continue playing, and I think the issue was the pacing. I didn't just get bored with all the dialogue; that was actually my favorite part, and I'm a huge fan of pure visual novels besides. What lost my interest was the wandering around and puzzle solving. Some of the puzzles were pretty cool, but overall, they didn't interest me that much. I'm not going to say that the game would have been better as a straight visual novel, but I do think the game would have benefitted from a slightly brisker pace or more thought provoking puzzles. Truly, though, those complaints are rooted more in my personal tastes than any actual design flaws.
I'm not saying too much about this game so as to avoid the risk of accidentally spoiling anything, but if you like mystery stories or laid back puzzle adventures, I'd suggest checking this one out. The narrative is truly stellar, and while I found myself getting bored with the gameplay, at no point did I ever get bored with the story. I always wanted to know what happened next. The cast of characters you meet are all well drawn and have their own interesting and cryptic back stories all of which are strands of a larger mystery you must unravel. I wasn't as enamored with this game as some, but it definitely told a damn good story, and that's the single most important thing in my book.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.