It's more like reading a choose-your-own-adventure novel then playing a game. There are some cool things that take advantage of the dual screens and the touch screen, but it still don't change the fact that it's not so much a game than an elaborate story. It's a good story though, so it makes the pretty straight forward game play acceptable. Replay value is nil, so it's a rental not a buy.
First off, this is a slow mystery game. I don't mean that in an all-bad way, say, it takes forever to do anything and nothing ever happens plot wise. No, not at all. The game will not be for anyone expecting to come to a hotel and have a Phoenix Wright murder investigation on their hands with a lot of flash. The text is slow, yes, and you want to speed it up but you can't. A few 'key' objectives and choice puzzles are frustrating in how little is explained of what you are to do to succeed. The players are introduced, and then some go on a back burner until you almost forget they are there, but rest assured all characters play a part in the story. And the story is on one of the highlights here, its not what I was expecting, it builds slowly, if you can make it past the first relatively uneventful segments (story is divided into chapters) you will soon get mired in one heck of a plot. Frequent objectives include looking for clues for various mysteries and a shake-down of fellow characters for information. The dialog (the 1970's time period was not ignored) parts are not nearly as entertaining as they could be, but I enjoyed the personalities of the residents and guests with all their unique looks and mannerisms that can be seen as well as read. The art is a main draw, a pulp-comic 2-D art put on 3-D background. Its not necessarily beautiful, many 3-D scenes seem grainy and lacking great quality, but it gives the story an entertaining backdrop of style. You will be called on sometimes to look for small, dainty objects, so keep your eyes sharp for clues. I did enjoy the red-herring objects the game put in (meaning not every item you pick up is relevant to the story), but your pockets are still bottomless. Does not use all the DS' features (microphone, etc.). The sound is nothing noteworthy, it has a soft jazz feel to it. No characters have voices, but footsteps, door sounds, are used. A strategy/rpg gamer may like it best. Give it a try.
Let me start by saying that if you are not a fan of point and click games, run. Go as far away as possible; because this is a point and click game, with all the quirks and problems of most the other games in this genera.
Now, if you like or can stand point and click games, Hotel Dusk is very good. The game makes full use of the system, and I don’t just mean the touch screen. Have a puzzle that you can’t figure out? You’re going to have to think outside the box, or in this case, the DS. Some puzzles will force you to look at the DS at a different perspective, or even fold the DS up. The game, also, helps with remembering important events that happened in past chapters by giving a recap of the chapter in your journal. But what if you need to remember something right now? Well, for that all you need to do is write it in your journal. And I mean write, because you will be able to draw what you need to remember with your stylus. The story is one of the points where the game falls a little flat. You’re an ex-cop in 1979. You are now a door-to-door sales man looking for your old partner, who, during an under cover case, turned traitor. This forced you to take him out. Now the graphics are good. The game is 3-D on one screen, a map on the other. The characters are 2-D, and are like Phoenix Wright. The art style is great, with a pencil drawn look. The game is great, but it has its flaws. The big one is that some parts of the game demand the player to figure out puzzles with little explanation. The game can move at a slow pace at times, and I know that not everyone will love the story. The biggest thing is that it will not change your mind about point and click games if you don’t like them.
So, if you don’t like point and click, or puzzle games, don’t bother. If you do love those types of games, rent this now, you will not be disappointed.