Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a lot like this really old game I used to play on NES. Don’t remember what it was called, but if any of you have played it, you will know the second you select Hotel Dusk on the DS title screen. So, what is enticing about a DS game that reads like an e-book? And who really wants to read a game anyway? You do! Yes! You!
You are Kyle Hyde, an ex-cop with a hell of a lot of baggage. Kyle and his partner, Brian Bradley, used to rule to roost in New York City. However, a few years ago Brian decided to hand over some top secret information to the bad guys. So what did Kyle do? He hunted him down and shot him like the dirty two-faced dog he really was. Brian fell into the river and was never found. Kyle turned in his badge to become a door-to-door salesman with a secret: every once in awhile his boss sends him on a search for people who don’t really want to be found… Kyle wants to find out what happened to Brian, and so he is led to Hotel Dusk. The rest of the mystery-solving is left in your hands.
The story is set in 1979, but besides the dates in your notebook, you’d never know it. Kyle has several tools at his disposal for exposing clues: a notebook, a few miscellanious items (like keys, paper clips, puzzle pieces), a Hotel Dusk map, a list of contacts (from his door-to-door selling job), and a few other things depending on where you are in the game. Your job is to use these tools, your social skills, and your Homo Sapien brain to solve the mystery of Brian Bradley and what actually happened to two strangers in room 215 (the “wish” room).
I’ve never played a game like Hotel Dusk on the DS, or on any other system for that matter. You hold the DS like a book (sorta like Brain Age) and watch the story progress on both screens. When moving Kyle around, the left screen (if you’re right handed, opposite if you’re not) shows a first-person view of the action, and the touch screen on the right is where you access your tools, move Kyle around, and look over maps. The use of the touch screen is really ingenious; before Hotel Dusk I had never played a game that has relied on the touch screen so heavily for gameplay. Conversations are quick and easy to understand as one character is presented on the left screen and the other on the right. The dialogue flashes back and forth effortlessly and your eyes can be just as quick to read the story.