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Nor is this the only thing that has you questioning how truly interactive an experience Hotel Dusk is. The fact is that most tasks can only be accomplished in a particular order, to the point that characters seem able to teleport around the hotel so that they can be in the right place immediately when you’ve found a certain object or completed a specific task, but are mysteriously missing until then. It’s a game where a supposedly empty box will actually contain a bookmark, but only when you’ve been told that the bookmark is gone, and where you’ll occasionally find yourself wandering aimlessly just because you haven’t seen the object or found the person that will trigger the next chain of events. In other words, it’s a game where you follow a set script, and the only thing you have an effect on is how quickly that script plays through. This even extends to the dialogue. Whatever attitude you want to adopt, there’s only one way the conversation and the relationship will play out. In fact, saying the wrong thing at key points will actually bring up the game over screen faster than you can believe. Save regularly is my advice.
Meanwhile, whoever decided to close each chapter with a quick comprehension test should have his brain checked out. Imagine if TrustedReviews asked you a series of multiple choice questions at the end of each page to ensure you had been paying attention throughout the review. Would you find it:
A) A real help to your understanding of the review?
B) A clever device to keep you on your toes?
C) Deeply annoying.
That’s right. Answer C. It is deeply annoying…
All of which brings me to my conclusion: that Hotel Dusk is this year’s Fahrenheit. It’s not just that, like Quantic Dream’s innovative, underappreciated gem it’s an interesting take on how to do a graphic adventure in 2007. Nor is it that, like Fahrenheit, it’s a character-driven thriller. What really makes me think of Fahrenheit when playing Hotel Dusk is that it’s a game that practically lays down a blueprint for how a new style of adult adventure game could be built – albeit this time using the unique capabilities of the DS – but leaves gaping faults that prevent the whole construction from fully working as a game. Both titles are beguiling, fascinating but ultimately flawed, with Fahrenheit suffering from its stupid action sequences and nonsensical plot twists, and Hotel Dusk from its tiresome text marathons and ludicrously tight structure.
However, both games still manage nonetheless to intrigue you – even, occasionally, move you – in a way that few others even attempt. Buy Hotel Dusk and you will occasionally find yourself mired down by the endless dialogue and struck by the stupidity of the mechanics, but that won’t stop you pushing through to the bitter end or feeling glad that you bothered when you reach it. In the end, that’s all that really matters.
It might be flawed, but Hotel Dusk is a deeper, richer game than just about anything else on the DS. An intriguing handheld thriller that will frequently annoy, yet still keep you glued until the end.