My latest love is the Nintendo DS. It is one of the fastest and best-selling video game systems in history, with sales in excess of 47 million units since its launch in 2004. It is currently one of the most sought-after systems among the crop of gaming consoles, including the XBox 360, the PS3, the Wii (which is doing equally well) and the Sony PSP. With more than 300 titles to choose from, the DS (and its newer avatar, the DS Lite) has the largest software catalogue.
Hotel Dusk is a detective noir game for the Nintendo DS that marks a return to the classic point-and-click adventure games.
The events in the game take place in a strange hotel called Hotel Dusk in late 1979, three years after the main protagonist, Kyle Hyde, is fired from the police force for shooting Bradley, his own partner, at the docks near the Hudson river for reasons that are not clear in the beginning. Bradley fell into the river after being shot, but his body was never recovered. Hyde, however, believes he is alive and makes it his life’s mission to find him.
Now a travelling salesman, Hyde finds himself in Hotel Dusk on a supposedly routine side job for his boss. Upon his arrival at the hotel, Hyde finds there is more to the hotel and its inhabitants than meets the eye, and has a gut feeling that he will find clues to Bradley’s whereabouts in the hotel. And thus begins a well-crafted, solidly written mystery game that utilizes the features of the DS to their fullest.
The game employs a unique art style to render its characters. It is a bit like animated charcoal sketches (if you’ve seen the Brothers in Arms video by Dire Straits, you’ll know what I mean) that really suit the noir feel of the game. You actually hold the DS like a book, with the left screen usually showing you a 3D watercolour-ish view of your immediate surroundings, and the right screen showing you an overhead plan of the hotel. You can move about using either the direction keys or by using the stylus on the map. The stylus is also used to interact with the objects and characters in the game as well as to write notes in your notebook.
Hotel Dusk plays host to an array of strange and mysterious characters who all seem to be harbouring their own deep, dark secrets. To solve the game, you will of course have to learn all that you can about them by interacting with them during the course of your stay at the hotel. Along the way, the game poses some interesting puzzles for players to solve, such as the one early on where you break the key to your suitcase and have to figure out how to open it. Some also require serious lateral thinking, and because the game is linearly structured, you won’t be able to progress unless you solve them.
Hotel Dusk is very much like an interactive book in the sense that you can play it at your own pace. The plot is well written and the dialogues are smart and at times touching, especially when it comes to Hyde, who is immediately likeable as the wronged and betrayed cop out for revenge. Hotel Dusk is a welcome break from the regular action/ shooting fare that I usually tend to play, and is a must-have for all DS owners.
Game: Hotel Dusk: Room 215
Platform: Nintendo DS
Price: About Rs1,800, from leading online gaming retailers
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