*The following is a guest post from M. Daizen on the game Hotel Dusk. Enjoy the post, and if you are interested in submitting a guest post, just email me! God bless.*
The Nintendo DS is a game system that is full of many magnificent games, but sometimes, things can go above and beyond what is considered ‘magnificent’. It’s sad that some of these masterpieces have only been on the DS, but the moderately well known Kyle Hyde series was a truly beautiful gift from God.
This is a series with two titles, the first being Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and the second, Last Window: The Secret of Cape West (Sadly, Cing, the company that developed these games went bankrupt by the release of Last Window, and a limited amount of copies were sold). This is a story-based point and click adventure series featuring the sullen ex-detective, Kyle Hyde. Each game brings Kyle into an unexpected mystery to solve that brings his old instincts as a detective back into play. The two titles also take on similar but different settings. Hotel Dusk is in a rundown motel, and Last Window takes place in Kyle’s apartment building.
Both settings are the perfect places for Kyle to meet people (not to mention, the people are very realistically depicted both in dialogue and appearance) who appear unconnected to the mysteries he intends to unravel, yet the characters all end up connecting to each other and helping solve the mystery. Seeing this kind of communication transpire in the game, especially considering that these people begin as strangers to Kyle, taught me something about all people of our world. This game demonstrated that even those who you pass by in the hallways of a motel are all connected with a purpose, and a purpose to your own life. It tells me that God is not random. It tells me the joy of seeing that strangers you meet could have the potential to become your best friend in one sociable night (the story of Hotel Dusk takes place over the span of one night).
The characters in this series are by no means the only element that portrays the incredibility of life. This series has many puzzles throughout the game, and the way they fit into the game is genius. For example, there is a puzzle that you have to take the pieces out of a jigsaw puzzle frame, while one screen on the DS has the puzzle and the other has a blank table. The way to get the pieces on the other screen is to actually physically close the DS (activating sleep mode, so the game knows) to solve the puzzle!
These kinds of ideas just pull you right into the game’s reality; it makes such good use of the DS to get you engaged.
The other element of the puzzles that I like so much is how every task in them is very… boring. That is, the average person would likely not think much of doing any of these puzzle-tasks in real life, but when done in the games, it shows how fun they can be! What a brilliant way for God to show me how every action in life can be enjoyable, to picking a lock, cutting a coat hanger, or even opening up a toilet.
The interesting thing throughout the whole game is that while you are enjoying it, Kyle Hyde always has a gloomy, unamused attitude about almost everything. This part of the game helped bring me to believe something that I’ve always held in very high value. God is experiencing life through every person’s eyes. He feels all of what we feel, experiences all of what we experience, but there also exists the avatar – the human that isn’t aware of all the joy there is in life. I like to think that we are all characters in the game of life, and God is playing every character from their own perspectives. And even while we as incarnates feel pain, suffering and boredom in our lives, the player behind the screen of life can always find something amusing and joyful in what happens in life. Kyle is an unhappy person, but the player is not unhappy. Not only that, but often times his unhappy attitudes are funny! Think of any comedy act that you have ever seen; now let me ask you, did it involve something bad happening to someone? Chances are, it did. You see, humor is a savior that can be found in the darkest events in the world, and it ironically brings about joy. So when I think of God playing people like a game, I always finding it amusing; it makes more sense to have difficulties happen in our lives. God can laugh at any event in life, and it is an action done entirely out of love. The less trapped within a situation someone is, the easier they can find it amusing. That is why I believe God enjoyably, and lovingly, amuses both Himself and ourselves with our lives. And of course it’s not that God is leaving us out of his amusement; we are beings of God. We share his feelings, thus we can always search our feelings to find the amusement that God does in us.
Now, moving back to the topic of the games, I would like to next discuss the story. Yes, Kyle is a sad man, but he develops as he searches through the mystery of an incident with his ex-detective partner, Brian Bradley. At the beginning of Hotel Dusk, Kyle explains how he had to leave the LA Police Dept. Bradley, who was also his dear friend, started making deals with criminals, and Kyle gets a call about it. In the shock and fury of that news, Kyle found Bradley standing on the docks by an ocean, and at that moment, as Kyle felt both betrayed and at gunpoint with a criminal, he shot him. Kyle had to leave the force after shooting him, and spent the next few years with only a job in sales that he wasn’t even good at (after those few years, the events of Hotel Dusk begin). Throughout the course of Hotel Dusk, Kyle is on a search to find Bradley again, not even knowing if he’s dead or alive.
Without spoiling how the story goes, I can say simply that he is a changed man when it comes to himself and his relationship with Bradley. After just one night of talking to people about their past, Kyle Hyde had the experience of his life, right along with the players themselves. It is amazing the way this game shows how the past affects people so deeply. The most exciting parts of this game are when Kyle presses on people to tell them about something that they’re hiding, always leading them to reveal a touching thing about something that happened in their lives, making them who they are today.
A very beautiful portrayal of the past in it is the art style of the characters. They are all drawn in the form of a dream-like, black and white photograph that animates only subtly.
To me, this portrays the haziness of the past to one’s mind, and the dull aura that Kyle feels emits throughout the games. It is quite a unique and dreamy art style that takes me into an imaginative state whenever I see them. The director of the games, Taisuke Kanasaki, was inspired to do this visual-style from a number of artists (Including Robert Heindel, Andrew Wyeth, Drew Struzan, Mike Mignola, and Mark Demsteader), and the musical video for A-ha’s song “Take On Me”. These character sprites also have a very realistic look to them because they were made from rotoscoping, taking photographs of real people and tracing them.
Another great element of how this game was made is the soundtrack. All the tracks are smooth jazz compositions. The feel of the game fits so well with this music, and I find it to be incredibly good. Most of it is very calming, and fits the dreamy vibe that this game has. Some of it is downright emotional as well, like the song “Dead Stare”. The whistling sound effect in it always brings my soul to a state of bliss from how well it captures my heart. It is fitting for both the time period of the story, and for the people in it.
Both of these games are indispensable gifts to the world that not many people know about, but if you have a Nintendo DS, picking up Hotel Dusk: Room 215 could easily change your life and the way you feel about the world.
~ M. Daizen