If you’re a fan of the adventure game genre and mystery novels, I’d recommend checking out Hotel Dusk. Billed as an interactive mystery novel, it plays like a Dashiell Hammet novel reads, and looks like a very well drawn graphic novel.
Your main character is Kyle Hyde, an ex-NYPD turned door-to-door salesman on the West Coast. Kyle’s boss has a side business where “he finds things that people don’t want to be found.” Not exactly kosher sounding. Kyle’s change of fortune occurred three years before the start of the game, when his partner, Bradley, betrayed both Kyle and the department. Bradley has since disappeared and Kyle has been on his trail ever since.
Kyle finds himself at a dive called Hotel Dusk, where it seems most of the guest and staff have something to hide. Some might even have information on Bradley. The intrigue is sufficient to restart, Kyle’s dormant detective urges and you set out to investigate what’s going on in this hotel.
You play the game by walking around the hotel, interrogating people, making yourself useful and solving puzzles. The game tries to be somewhat realistic. For instance, many puzzles have multiple solutions that are analogous to the ones you find in real life. Also, if you attempt to grill your subject to hard, they will quickly clamp up and deny you the information you need to find Bradley. On occasion, if you’re not careful, the proprietor of the hotel, Dunning Smith, will throw you out of the hotel. He won’t even give you your money back.
While gameplay is geared towards realism, the graphical style is geared towards mood. All the characters look like they were drawn by colored pencil. The sets are more hi-fidelity, which creates some contrast. The game designers did an equally good job of setting the mood of the game through the score. The score changes depending on what Kyle is doing. For instance, during interrogations, the score becomes lively and fast past. However, it’s slow and jazzy when he’s just chit-chatting.
Overall, I thought the game was excellently put-together and worth getting. One draw-back of the games attempt to duplicate a novel is that it is very linear suggesting that the game does not have a very good replay value. However, some depth is gained through a few side quest. Also, there appear to be different endings that are triggered by specific actions performed within the game. I haven’t played it twice yet, so I can’t give a definitive answer on that aspect.
One more point in it’s favor is that it’s a great gateway game. My wife, who general does not like video games, loved this one as well.
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