Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hotel Dusk: Room 215: what's going on?

I've got a lot to say about this game, so you'll have to bear with me.

Firstly, the style of it is just amazing. Very few games have gone down the film noir path, and certainly none have combined film noir with Aha's Take on Me video. Even when the game's standing still, the characters shimmer in their pencil-drawn state. Combined with the well-modelled backgrounds and clever 3D exploratory bits, it's really good to look at. Sort of. The shimmering didn't half give me a headache after a while.

The story's really different from most videogames too. You're really thrown in at the deep end not knowing too much about where you are or what you're meant to be doing. So far I've established that I'm playing an ex-cop, whose partner went missing three years previously after being shot. I now work as a salesman and with a bit of private detection stuff on the side. I have to find things that have gone missing.

The game's split into chapters, which cover 30 minutes of real time. I've found out that some things are due to happen in the future - like the TV will be on between 7pm and 9pm. I've completed chapter 1 (5:00pm - 5:30pm) and I was impressed with the roundup at the end - Kyle Hyde (the character I play) gave a rundown of all that had happened so far and asked me questions to make sure I understood.

I also like the notepad on which you can write notes with the stylus. Unfortunately it's only available at certain times - I wish there was the option to write something down in the middle of a conversation. Maybe it's not really needed yet, though.

The way conversation's handled is a bit odd. Annoyingly, you can't skip the text scrolling, so it takes ages to read. As you go through, if something raises a question in Kyle's head, that question scrolls above his head - but while conversation continues on the other screen. So you have to read both at the same time - or, more accurately, the question first, since that scrolls past and doesn't reappear. But the question relates to something being said on the other screen, so you'll be reading it out of order.

Overall, I'm intrigued by the story and game, and will of course be continuing. I'll try not to spoil the story too much ... I'm sure Kieron will want to play it himself!

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