A thrilling, engrossing game that you won't be able to put down.
You play as a former police officer Kyle Hyde, who was let go due to an incident involving his partner, Brian Bradley. At the start of the game you watch a movie showing Hyde sitting in his office and receiving a call about Bradley. Hyde is then on the docks and shoots his beloved friend Bradley, sending his body flying into the river. The body was never discovered, and Hyde has a suspicion that his partner is still alive. Hyde goes to work for a door-to-door sales company, but the boss (his Dad's good friend) uses Hyde as an investigator, unbeknown to most. His current task takes him to Hotel Dusk, a rundown hotel where he must find two items for a client. All the time Hyde is searching for his friend, but at Hotel Dusk, the people there aren't as they might first seem.
The game is played by holding the DS sideways, giving the feel that you are actually reading a detective novel. On the touch screen you press and hold where you want to go on a detailed map, and Hyde will start walking to that place. Meanwhile on the other screen, a first person view is displayed of what Hyde would be seeing. If you want to interact with the environment or a person, you simply press the corresponding button on the bottom of the touch screen and you will enter that mode. In the look mode, you will be able to touch things and Hyde will describe the object, or perhaps pick it up. In the talking mode, Hyde will be on the left of the screen and the other person will be shown on the other screen - each of their speech will be displayed at the bottom of their screen.
Throughout the game there will be puzzles to solve, such as tapping in a security code or giving mouth to mouth to someone. All of these are completed using clever functions of the DS, such as closing the DS shut or performing an action on the touch screen. These work really well, and it is a good job that the game isn't overcrowded with them, because it's fun when you encounter one. Typical adventure game puzzles also occur, such as having to use a certain object with something else.
The bulk of the game is taking up with talking to people and discovering the secrets that lie within their hearts, of which there are many. There is a lot of extremely well written speech for all of the characters, of which there are many different faces and personalities throughout the hotel (Hyde himself is a brilliant character), but some people may get tired of reading it all if they aren't used to the genre. The plot slowly unwraps as you go along, and each character has their own story to tell which will hopefully lead you to your final goal - finding Bradley. As you go along in the game it will keep amazing you how clever and detailed the story is, and just how engrossing it is. You really won't be able to put the game down, just because you want to know what's going to happen next.
The difficulty of the game gets progressively harder of the course of the game, but you won't find yourself shouting at your DS to tell it what you have to do next. If you are wandering around for ages not doing anything, Hyde will think something like "maybe I should go see Dunning" or "perhaps I should visit room 217". There is a minor flaw in picking up objects, in that it sometimes won't let you reach a certain chapter, although this probably helps keep the game challenging.
One of the first things you'll notice when playing the game is the wonderful visual style. The characters are all given a hand-drawn look without colour, and certain parts of the character look like they're moving, even when the person is idle. The environments are in full, coloured 3D and they themselves look nice, especially when you get close to an object. It's a weird mix, but it's pulled off extremely well.
There is no voice acting in the game, and this itself is a two sided argument. Having voice acting probably wouldn't have been technically possible to fit on the DS cart, but even if it had it would have taken away the imagination of making up your own voices for the characters. On the other hand, due to the sheer amount of text, it may have helped move along the game for some people. The music in the game fits well to that of a detective movie, with jazzy tunes which go perfectly to the situation, such as a shift in mood in a conversation. The music can even be played back to you later in the pub, which is a nice little feature.
As with a lot of adventure games, the game is played once and then put on the shelf to collect dust - not Hotel Dusk. The game has six alternative endings, each having their own special requirements to be able to unlock, giving the game real replay value for people who want to know every minor bit of the story.
If you're a fan of adventure games, detective and mystery novels or not, you'll still absolutely love this game, unless you have a strong dislike for reading. Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a stunning game, bursting with clever characters and plot twists. Cing really have a winner on their hands with this game, and a sequel would be welcomed with open arms.