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September 7, 2015

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (Part 4)

In Part 3, we told an old woman her son was gone, we berated a guy for being a piss-poor parent and husband, and we learned more about the resident Princess. Oh, also we’re for some reason on a quest for five paintings of apples scattered around the hotel.

Kyle checks the painting in Room 215 and finds a Y hidden in one of the five apples. The other paintings have one to four apples (one for each number), and each one hides a letter. Thus we find three additional letters. It only starts getting troublesome when we get to the fifth painting. It seems to be hidden rather well. On the other hand, Louie has news for us: The key we found in the potted plant? It opens the wine cellar!

But we'll see that later; now, it's time to go see Rosa again. Kyle reveals to her that Mila’s father is a guy named Robert Evans, and then asks about the final painting. It’s in Room 111, a special room at the end of the lobby on the first floor, one of the few rooms we haven’t seen yet. Rosa promises to get Kyle into Room 111. But Dunning is watching the lobby at the moment, and Kyle walking around with Mila past midnight would seem very suspicious. And creepy. So we have to sneak around the lobby, going up a set of stairs, down the other, we enter Room 111 and meet with Rosa. At last, we get the final painting and put the letters in the right order: JENNY. That’s when Mila falls to the ground. Kyle has to give her CPR... and for this, you need to close the DS so Kyle and Mila’s faces meet. Good luck figuring that one out by yourself. And, to our surprise, when she wakes... to speak? Awesome!
Let's celebrate in the wine cellar!
Mila starts talking! After Kyle and Rosa show amazement at this “miracle”, Mila says she remembers some things about this room... She remembers playing there with Jenny, but Jenny was taken away. Mila says she’s been looking for her father ever since she woke up... not long ago... wait, she was comatose? Oh, God. She’s stayed at Robbins Memorial Hospital, in a coma for ten years, so she’s a nineteen years old girl with the mind of a nine years old. She’s off limits to everyone. Her mother, Robert Evans’ wife, died in a plane crash shortly after Mila’s birth. Rosa brings Mila back to her room.

When Kyle leaves, he stumbles upon Kevin Woodward, who overheard the discussion. He knows Mila, since he worked at Robbins Memorial Hospital, and she was there. He confirms the coma theory, then says that Mila woke up six months ago and all attempts to contact her father were unsuccessful. And Mila’s last visitor, before she woke up, was a man “named” Kyle Hyde.

Troubled history, huh? I've seen so many of those,
they're my morning cereal now.
Kyle’s pager beeps. Time to call Ed again. When we call Red Crown, we get Ed, who says Robert Evans actually bought Hotel Dusk in 1969. Ten years ago. Then closed it down, and three years later sold it to Dunning Smith. However, the call is interrupted by Rosa knocking at Kyle’s door. Dunning took Mila away and she still hasn’t come back! Louie comes to help, but Kyle tells him to check the wine cellar. In Dunning’s room, Kyle finds an article on Osterzone, that mystery painter, as well as the brochure Mila had on her when she arrived. We also find pictures of a young girl and many birthday cards saying “Happy Birthday Jenny”. Uh oh...

We head to the pantry, and to the wine cellar. The door is unlocked now, but first Kyle needs to get his thoughts straight. Here goes one of the last quizzes on what happened so far. I don’t really mind those, but even then, I have to admit it gets a tad annoying after a while. Most people would just keep flowcharts instead of repeating to themselves everything they’ve heard. Plus, some of the choices in these questions are plain stupid. Gotta wonder how Kyle winds up adding those to his questions. It’s like in those school tests, you probably remember what I’m talking about, these ABCD questions with one or two answers that were just plain stupid, one that was wrong but made a bit of sense, and one that was the right answer? Kinda feels like that, except simpler.

We finally open the wine cellar and find Louie, K.O. on the floor. And then some guy behind Kyle Hyde, with Dunning’s stature, K.O.s Kyle as well. For some reason, we can still save the game. Even though Kyle can't write his save file in his notebook right now.

Oh, I love me some good old cliffhanger...

Chapter 10 begins at 2:00 AM. Rosa manages to wake Kyle up. And Louie is up, too. The three of them come to the conclusion that in 1969, Mila and Jenny were playing together when men barged in, kidnapped Jenny and struck Mila behind the head hard enough to put her in a coma. The world is full of monsters. In the wine cellar, a little puzzle involving two half-full whisky bottles and a box allows Kyle to find a secret passageway leading down to a basement! Rosa says the only one who came into this room before was Dunning. Kyle decides to go, but he chooses to go alone.

Huh, this doesn't look very good... or reassuring...

That wasn't part of the contract I signed at Red Crown!
Kyle descends and goes into a room labeled Basement. There’s an unconvincing brick wall on the other side of the hall, with a rectangular delimitation, like a doorway. But let’s conveniently ignore that for now, and instead let’s check the Basement room. Kyle finds a book about life trivia, with how to sharpen blades with aluminum, that sort of thing. Then someone comes from outside and locks the door from outside. Uh oh. And this place is airtight, too! Another book on the shelves details the life and works of Osterzone; the book was written by Robert Evans, apparently. We also have the hotel’s records from two years ago in there, with data of a certain Grace. Oh Heavens... if only we weren’t stuck! It’s getting hard... to breathe! There’s a machine... on one of the tables... Looks like... a computer! Not enough... air... to question the... possible anachronism! We find a... lockbox and... open it using... a code found in the... room. I knew... following Kyle everywhere... wasn’t a good idea! In the lockbox... we find a letter addressed to Dunning, about a... secret. About a final... work to do! And some code... at the end. We get the computer to work... using a trick from the Life Trivia... book! Wow, talk about... convenient that this... thing was in here!



I’m fine. ...For now...

But... I gotta get out! ...Fast! I’ve heard of... deep-immersion... gaming before, but this is... ridiculous!

With the computer working, we... input the code... argh... panicking! And the machine... decodes it as... OSTERZONE IS DUNNING SMITH! Okay, I’d say... this revelation leaves me... breathless, but now’s not... now’s not the time for jokes!

I wouldn't... have believed it... but there it is.
And... in the 70s, no... machine can surely... lie to us!

That’s when... Louie comes... to the... rescue. He... opens... the...

That's the moast unwelcoming... art studio I've ever... seen.
I haven't... seen many, mind you.
Door... Oh, thanks man! Just a... little more and we were... all out of oxygen in there! Okay... As the two head back... they see a few bricks fall off a wall... I’m fine, just catching my breath. Gimme a moment still... I’ll be fine soon. Sorry for all the ellipses. Kyle uses a hammer from the airtight room and finds a door hidden behind the bricks. And behind that door... canvases, paint cans... well, if Dunning is Osterzone, it makes sense he’d be painting. Louie doesn’t believe it until Kyle explains about Jenny, and how Dunning was the one who painted Angel Opening A Door, the painting that got snatched from Gallery May.

Hey, look! I can draw a masterpiece with a palette knife!
...Wait, I think I got this backwards.
Kyle finds a palette knife and uses it on the nearby, painted-all-white canvas. The picture beneath? You guessed right. An angel. Louie is of course mad that the painting that got his friend killed turned out to be under his bedroom for so long, and Kyle explains that Bradley probably brought it to Hotel Dusk that night he betrayed the LAPD. And the whole Osterzone thing is a scam led by Robert Evans to get some paintings to sell for high prices. Ten years ago, Robert Evans buys the Dusk, then sells it to Dunning three years later, who reopens it two years afterwards. And somehow, Bradley found out about Osterzone being fake. Kyle reminisces how he never got to hear Bradley’s side of the whole story, which is mainly the reason why he’s been chasing him down.

I don't think I'm gonna be able to make a lot of
jokes in the following paragraphs.
The story is too tragic.
So, Kyle and Louie leave that room, and then find the secret door in the wall (took them long enough). They get in and Kyle finally makes Dunning speak. It's crazy how Dunning seems to be a completely different man at this point. Even his accent almost disappears from his speech. And he definitely seems out of his ass-kicking mood. He says he brought Mila here so she could see the place, as that’s where Dunning last spoke to Robert Evans. Sadly, he doesn’t know where Mila’s father may be.

Of course, Dunning says all this, but make one single mistake when talking to him, annoy him even once by going too rough or making false assumptions, and you lose.

Dunning reveals his secrets. Evans and he were united in tragedy; their wives died in the same plane crash, in 1960. They were both hoping to work in art; Robert Evans now owned Gallery May, and Dunning was struggling as an artist. So Evans imagined this scheme and made up Osterzone. The paintings would sell for large sums. Sadly, the bait of money took Evans hook, line and sinker, so he started looking for other ways to scam people... and found Nile. In fact, Evans had built the basement for Osterzone, but also for crooks to assemble. Dunning didn’t like painting and getting none of the money or fame, he was feeling his inspiration leaving him. Eventually, he stopped painting.

Then came that fateful night. Dunning was drinking with Evans at the Seven Stars. The kidnapping happened, Jenny was taken away. Robert Evans couldn’t prevent this from happening. In fact, Evans even kept his daughter Mila’s comatose state a secret!  When his daughter was kidnapped by Nile thugs, all Dunning had to do was become Osterzone again and paint... but his efforts led to nothing, so he eventually gave up. Evans tasked Dunning with one final job, and then gave him the deed to the hotel. Making this place popular again never succeeded, due to the ghost stories sparked by the kidnapping. Thus he invented the “Room 215 Grants Wishes” story, which helped restore the hotel’s former glory a bit, but not as much as before. However, the last time the two men saw each other in Hotel Dusk, Evans said he was trying to get things straight, so that Dunning could retrieve Jenny... but then he disappeared.

Also, two years ago, Grace Woodward showed up, saying she knew for Osterzone. She said she had an idea where Robert Evans may have been, and asked for a painting, as she needed the money collectors would pay her for another newly discovered Osterzone picture.

Are you following? No? Well, I’m sorry, getting all the essential bits of the plot in a limited amount of words is no easy task.

Then, six months before now, Bradley came along. He talked with Dunning, said that Evans was neck-deep into Nile. Bradley arrived with Angel Opening A Door, and said Nile was also after him. The ex-cop was trying to save his sister, also named Mila, who was in danger of death because of Nile, which is why he betrayed the force; he had to do what Nile asked of him. But he was double-crossed and his sister was killed by the crime ring. So Bradley killed Robert Evans as he was coming to Robbins Memorial Hospital to see his daughter, the one who’s coincidentally also named Mila, but then realized what he had just done, and gave his own bracelet to this Mila.

As for Dunning, he got the angel painting and kept Room 217 locked. Bradley also left a photo and a key, which Dunning gives to Kyle. That’s the whole story.

Once he’s back from the basement, Kyle calls Ed and tells the whole story. Then, Ed says that the “client” who ordered the men’s magazine and the red box said that the salesman could keep them. Kyle uses the key to open the red box, and sees it’s a letter from Bradley. That man set everything in place so Kyle would solve the big mystery of this place? Holy crap. Bradley’s letter mentions that with everyone, both criminals and cops, wanting him dead, he’s on the run. And Kyle should just give up the chase.

I... I just don't have a joke here.

Come on, Kyle, let it go, let it go, don't chase the past anymore... and I will stop here before it turns into the bajillionth Let It Go parody.

On the next morning, Kyle gets a call from Rachel, and prepares to leave. On his way out he hears from almost every person he met that evening; first Jeff, who apologizes for the troubles he has caused. Then Martin, who left a letter for him; it says Summer has chosen to come clean by writing his own best-seller. Then it’s Helen, who thanks Kyle for helping her and lending an ear. Then, Melissa. Who’s smiling. Daaaaw. And her father Kevin is next. Then Louie. Then Dunning. Kyle is about to leave, when Mila shows up at the front door of the hotel, and decides to go with him. Goodbye Hotel Dusk. We’ll never forget. I know I never did.

I simply love this game. I don’t play it as much as I play other action-packed games, but I like to entertain myself with some complex storytelling from time to time. It’s just that with three quarters of the game being to tap to get dialog to move faster, the game feels a bit like a chore. And sometimes it’s not clear enough on what has to be done in order to move forward. But it all pays off in the end.

The story is great. The way I described it, you might feel like it’s a mess of characters, dates and events. Well, it kinda is. I joked that one would need a flowchart to understand everything that happened, but there's some truth to it. However, I just can’t do this game justice; for starters, it may have taken you, at most, two hours to read this full review. The game is at least ten hours long. There’s a lot of stuff to do in it.

The gameplay is fine I guess. Moving around the hotel is simple enough. Kyle ends up seeing every single room, which is more than what a simple guest should be able to do. Kyle discards every object that stops having a use, but some objects he picks up have to be hidden in his suitcase, or brought back where he took them. The little puzzles also work well, including those that you are meant to lose. Also, about those, the game sure needs a lot of smarts. Some puzzles require a lot of thought.

When investigating a zone, you have to remember to check every single object. It may sound silly, but you have to. Some clues and items are very well-hidden, and you need to get every plot-important event during your investigation for the story to continue. The investigation itself is fine, as we can check left or right to access some objects more easily. But it’s still a bit of trouble to investigate some of the smaller objects. Besides, you won’t know what it is you need until Kyle picks it up, and other relevant items will not be picked up, but Kyle’s thoughts will be important. You really have to try everything.

The art is simply marvelous. The realistically-drawn characters all look great. And so do the 3D models of all the rooms in the game. Truly a success on that aspect. The music is also pretty great; it ranges from lobby music to a tense tune for the interrogation parts. Of course, since this game revolves more around dialog than action, you may not find an “epic” action song in there. But hey, it accompanies what’s on the screen, and that’s all we’re asking for, right?

So, a solid story, great characters, and everything that makes a good visual novel. I can’t ask for more. Well, there IS more; a sequel to this game, titled Last Window, which I haven’t had the chance to play. But if it’s as great as this game, I see no reason not to suggest that one too.

Kyle Hyde approves this message.

Now, what do I have next Friday... Oh. Oh.