It took me 5 years.
And one may wonder: five years to finish a 20 hour game? Yes, pretty much. Hotel Dusk is, for me, a symbol of procrastination and lack of decision. Maybe a lack of esteem. It took me five years not only to finish this game, but also to realize that there was something more going on in my life besides post-graduation, or an uncertain future that the zeitgeist of my generation promised me. I’d say that these promises are actually curses cast upon us, but I can’t as many people still resort to that in order to move on. I had to halt many personal projects in order to follow that path which seemed to mead me to nowhere. It is definitely good to study, gather knowledge and carry on a research about something you like – but what is the cost of that dedication in the long-run? How long would I have to kept insisting on the academic area until I had any proof that I wasn’t wasting my time and my energy to a lost cause?
During my post-graduation course, I was confronted with many scenarios, pretty much like Kyle Hyde does in the game. Each person with a background, each person with a problem, and all of them related in the end. It feels as if the story of Hotel Dusk is not Kyle Hyde’s story, but the other characters’ stories instead. The difference between me and Hyde is that he had consciously given up his post as a cop to look for someone; I didn’t know what I was looking for.
But enough with the melodrama. (⋋▂⋌)
Hotel Dusk is a visual novel. It has lots of text and dialogues, and basically no action. It is entertaining enough, as the main character seems competent and manages the situations very well – just what I expect from an ex-cop. Hyde gave up his job soon after he shot his own partner, Bradley. Although he fell into a river after being shot, no one ever found his body. Therefore, Hyde is now a door-to-door salesman who is looking for this Bradley, believing he is still alive and kicking. During his stay at the hotel, he finds important clues about Bradley and all the mess he was involved with before being shot.
Playing this game was also important for the characterization factor and for the description feature. It is possible to examine pre-established instances of the 3D scenario, and Hyde will provide the player with a description of the clicked objects. While some descriptions are coherent and even funny, others seem cheesy, poorly written, as if the game script was divided between two or three people. I know that the story happens in 1979, but the sometimes Hyde’s thoughts are inflated with many different police-Hollywood-movie jargon.
For example: “This story has more holes than Swiss cheese.”
Another problem I noticed is about the doors. The story is set in a hotel, and Hyde interacts with the guests. One moment he is talking to a beautiful woman. They finish their conversation, she goes back to her room. If you knock on her door immediately, Hyde is going to say something like: “Nobody answers. Is there a party somewhere and nobody called me?”.
This feature makes the game almost entirely story-driven. It is possible to explore the hotel many times, but there is no reward for that.
Despite those issues, Hotel Dusk is an interesting game experience. Hyde is smart, committed, and deeply affected by his past. The animations to show character’s reactions seem genuine, and not even for a moment I doubted of Hyde’s skills in talking to others or convincing them. The other characters also seems well designed, and although they are tropes, they fit a purpose inside the story.
Another good aspect for me is that there is no absolute ending. The story finishes, but it leaves a consistent hook for the next game, The Last Window, which I’ll definitely check out.
I was satisfied and pleased enough at the end. I don’t think it should have had more dialogues, or even more options. I guess Hotel Dusk is made to be exactly what it is: a story about the passage of Hyde from being a cop to something else he is about to discover.