Man, was this a letdown. I’d gotten a lot of positive vibe about it, and I admit that the presentation and writing were excellent (up until the credits I’d honestly thought I’d stumbled across that rare creature, a Nintendo game made by Americans). But the story really bugged me. If it were a book, I’d have put it down in fifteen minutes (and let’s be honest, the format is quite similar to a book, both in gameplay and presentation). I know how they wanted to make the people realistic, but frankly, real life is BORING. I didn’t care about all the small talk and back-and-forth that didn’t seem to go anywhere.
I didn’t like how there was no real conflict (other than inner conflict). The ending didn’t tie up the characters’ stories in the least - again, like real life, these stories generally don’t “end”, but that’s not what I’m looking for in a game. And the only person who was really “bad” ended up being… the father that the sublimely sympathetic Mila was looking so hard for. Ouch. I also expected there to be some sort of explanation for why all these people who were intricately connected happened to stay in the same hotel in the same night. I mean, come on… Kevin is down the hall from the sister-in-law he’s never met, Summer’s muse and Helen’s son is the same person, Kevin’s wife got her money from Dunning and worked in the same place as Mila’s father, who was Dunning’s partner… GEESH!
And also? Whoever thought it was a great idea to show each individual door before letting you go through it should be shot.
Honestly, it was one of the most joyless experiences I’ve had on the DS. I’m going back to replaying Phoenix Wright now.
Heh, I never thought about it in that light, but you’re right. I agree that the game is bad, but for a much different reason: Hotel Dusk isn’t a game! It’s just a damned book. Even worse, it’s a book with visuals that hardly help augment the story, and “gameplay” that just breaks the flow of the dialogue entirely. Even WORSE, is that it’s a book worth 30 dollars, but requires you to buy a machine that’s over 100 dollars just to read it.
I dunno why this game was considered such a huge improvement over their previous game, Trace Memory. Personally, if you want to play a better game with a similar style (and also addressing quite a few of the points you’ve made against the writing and story), you should just play Trace Memory instead; at least Trace Memory is a freakin’ GAME, with a good amount of REAL puzzles.
Here’s a whole editorial piece I wrote about the subject if you’re interested:
Frankly, if the story was interesting, engaging, funny, etc., I wouldn’t have minded so much. I’ve stayed up late reading books and wanting to see what happens next. That simply didn’t happen in this case. The dialogue got cumbersome, there’s no quicksave feature, the vast majority of things you can examine all look exactly the same and do nothing. Hell, half the places you can enter are identical hotel rooms! It isn’t exciting, and it isn’t interesting.
That’s a large part of why I think the game would fails, whether or not you like the story (I enjoyed the DIALOGUE, at least, but I wonder, now that you’ve put it to me the way you did, if I’d look back on the story in a different light?). The gameplay consists of looking at a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter…slowly. It consists of a bunch of ‘puzzles’ where you just superfluously have to flick the stylus on doorknobs. The pace of the game overall is just slow and broken up by these two things, which don’t enhance the script at all.
The end result is that even if you find the game’s story or dialogue to be enjoyable, yeah, it is severely hampered by being a video game. Oh man, you should really try Trace Memory, though. Now THAT is a good game.
i agree - it had no real entertainment value.
but i rate the same as trace memory - i got bored with both
(all im gonna say is thank god i rented them rather than buy it)
Here’s a neat update. I just bought and finished a game called Time Hollow (made by Konami). It’s another interactive fiction game in the vein of Hotel Dusk, but infinitely more enjoyable. This isn’t because of the gameplay (which is practically nonexistent; it’s almost impossible to die or even to make wrong decisions). However, the story is much more engaging and intriguing. You’re basically playing a short anime.
The basic premise is similar to Shadow of Destiny for the PS2 if anyone’s played that (and in fact was written by the same person). The protagonist, Ethan, is given something called the Hollow Pen. This allows him to make holes in time at a specific place if he’s gotten a “flashback” of something happening there. It reminds me of Death Note in some ways in terms of the very specific but strangely arbitrary rules.
People who loved the idea of changing something in the past to affect the future, a la Chrono Trigger, will be really interested in this. It can get downright disturbing to see what huge effects come from small changes. The game also makes use of an astonishing amount of animated scenes, although very little voice acting. The characters aren’t all that deep, but they’re more of use as foils to Ethan.
Other than the lack of gameplay, the only real downside is the length; I finished it in a single day. It’s maybe 4-5 hours long. But man was it ever more fun than Hotel Dusk. And the main theme is awesome.
On a side note, I managed to snag meself a copy of Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops. Gonna break into that one next.
You sold me on Time Hollow the second you compared it to Shadow of Destiny.
Let me know if you happen to stumble upon any other similar games, Cid
edit: Also, enjoy Portable Ops