A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this mystery game requires players to slow down, do lots of reading, and solve puzzles. Though the story is involving, this will be a hard sell for fans of fast-paced action games. The mystery centers on crime and murder and includes a few gritty elements: drinking, some swearing, and brief scenes of violence (a shooting and people being knocked unconscious). But the overall vibe isn't bleak thanks to bright artwork, an upbeat soundtrack, and plot threads focused on family love.
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The main character, Kyle, is a businessman, also an ex-... Continue reading
What's it about?
Nintendo is marketing HOTEL DUSK: ROOM 215, an adventure game for the DS, as an \"interactive mystery novel.\" The star of the show is Kyle Hyde, a New York City police detective-turned-traveling-salesman who just can't quit his sleuthing ways. When Hyde finds himself at a seedy Los Angeles hotel in 1979, he discovers that nearly all the guests have mysterious pasts. Players will guide Hyde -- a man with a troubled past of his own -- through one long night in the hotel as he unravels the tangled relationships around him.
To play Hotel Dusk, players turn the DS on its side, like an open book. The screens either display a map and what Hyde sees, or they show Hyde in text-heavy conversations with the guests. The game often looks like a limited-motion comic book on two screens, with the characters depicted in a captivating hand-drawn style.
Is it any good?
Players with twitchy fingers and minds may get bored reading through pages of text, but those up for a stylish and moody story probably will find Hotel Dusk to be a unique and satisfying experience. Players select from questions and conjectures Hyde can make. Selecting the wrong thing can make guests clam up or even get Hyde booted out of the hotel. The game also sprinkles in some traditional adventure game-style logic puzzles that utilize the touch screen.
Since the 15- to 20-hour game is so story-heavy, actual play sometimes feels awkward. The game lets players walk all over the hotel, but it maintains control over the story by making guests available in a very linear manner. The mystery plays at being hard-boiled (with guns, murder, and hard-drinking), but that toughness wanes against a backdrop of bright artwork, an upbeat soundtrack, and plot threads focused on family love.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role of a story in video games. It's essential in this game, but is it for all games? If the mystery wasn't compelling, would this game still be worth playing? Families who get deep into the plot can also discuss the themes of parental love and abandonment.
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