Hotel Dusk: Room 215

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a film noir-style adventure game for the Nintendo DS; the player controls Kyle Hyde, a cop-turned-salesman trying to solve the mystery of the unassuming Hotel Dusk. The DS is held like a book when played.
  

Overview

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a Nintendo DS game released in 2007. It was developed by Cing (developer of Trace Memory) and published by Nintendo. The player controls Kyle Hyde, a former NYPD detective investigating the disappearance of his former partner, Brian Bradley, who has been presumed to be dead for several years.

The graphical style of Hotel Dusk stands out among those of most games. The characters of the game appear as detailed pencil drawings pasted over colored backgrounds, and are animated in a sketch-like fashion for a unique and stylish look. When moving around the hotel, players are put into first person perspective on the top screen, and use the stylus on the bottom screen map to navigate the halls. Talking to a character puts Kyle on one screen and the character with whom he is conversing on the other screen. Characters react differently and convey different emotions depending on the questions Kyle asks and the statements he makes.

Hyde talking with Rachel.
Hyde talking with Rachel.

Hotel Dusk was well-received by critics, but failed to perform well commercially. The highest point of praise was the game's dialogue and story.

It was among the ten best-selling DS titles for one month, but quickly dropped out. It was later re-released and reprinted under Nintendo's Touch Generations label. Hotel Dusk is now considered a cult classic for the Nintendo DS.

A sequel to Hotel Dusk was released in Japan and Europe in 2010 called Last Window: The Secret of Cape West.

Story

Hotel Dusk.
Hotel Dusk.

In December of 1979, a former NYPD detective named Kyle Hyde arrives at a mysterious hotel called Hotel Dusk, located in the American Southwest. He works for a door-to-door sales outfit called Red Crown, but his boss runs a side business in the covert recovery of lost items. Hyde has been dispatched to the hotel with the assignment of locating several such items for a mysterious client, but soon stumbles across a connection between the hotel and his former partner Brian Bradley. Appearing to have betrayed police intelligence to Nile, a notorious crime syndicate and the subject of a major police investigation, Bradley was shot by Hyde three years ago. His body was never recovered from the river into which it fell, and Hyde has ever since been searching for him, convinced that he survived the confrontation.

Hyde confronts Bradley at the docks.
Hyde confronts Bradley at the docks.

Hyde checks into Room 215, named “Wish” after the rumors that its occupants often find their wishes granted during their stays. Over the duration of his night at the hotel, Hyde is pulled into the personal mysteries of its guests and staff. Hyde begins to uncover the obscured links among his new acquaintances and their improbable relations to his own past. And as the hours go by, he inches ever closer to learning the ultimate secret of Hotel Dusk and the final truth behind Bradley’s disappearance.

Gameplay

Hyde talking with Mr. Smith.
Hyde talking with Mr. Smith.

The game is played by holding the DS on its side, like a notebook. While navigating the environment, the top screen (on the left for right-handed players) displays Hyde's first-person perspective, and the bottom screen (on the right for right-handed players) displays a simple map.

Gameplay is largely traditional "point and click" adventure fare, with various puzzles along the way. Most of the puzzles involve using the unique functions of the DS system to solve, such as picking a lock with the stylus, blowing away dust with the microphone, etc. However, many puzzles cannot be solved without knowledge gained from particular character exchanges, adding another layer to their complexity. During puzzle segments, Hyde is displayed on the top screen, while the puzzle is shown on the bottom.

Hyde looking for clues.
Hyde looking for clues.

Throughout the game, Hyde must interact with other characters to uncover vital information. He uses lines of questioning to advance discussions, and the information he gleans will direct him to new objectives. He often has to voice specific thoughts (triggered by previous exchanges) or show specific items in these sequences. The player can also refer to Hyde's notebook, which can be used at any time to take notes--critical information is copied to it automatically. If Hyde asks the wrong question or presents the wrong item, he may be forced to return to his room or leave the hotel. The former resets the conversation in question, while the latter results in a game over.

Hyde navigating an apartment.
Hyde navigating an apartment.

The game is split up into chapters, each of which covers a given period of in-game time. There are no real-time restrictions within which chapters must be completed--the progression of in-game time depends solely upon the completion of necessary objectives. Each of the game's chapters ends with an interrogation-style conversation sequence, in which Hyde must use previously gained knowledge to force an answer out of the relevant character. During these sequences, Hyde runs the risk of applying either insufficient pressure or excessive pressure to the interrogation's subject. As the information gained from these sequences is vital to Hyde's overarching investigation, failure to extract it will result in a game over. Depending on how Hyde approaches an interrogation, he may reveal more or less about the relevant character's past.

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