It’s 1980, and Kyle Hyde is four years and a lot of miles from his past life as a NYC Police Detective, and a year removed from the events of Hotel Dusk.
Last Window sees Hyde in a state of unmotivated limbo after the revelations of his visit to Hotel Dusk, and he’s pushing the patience of his boss perhaps one time too many. Yet the job might not be done with Hyde yet, as he receives a mysterious request unusually delivered straight to him at home.
I adored Hotel Dusk: Room 215, and a long while back I picked up the sequel, Last Window: The Secret of Cape West. Last Window was never released in the US, but was translated into English and released in the UK. While 3DS is region locked for 3DS games, it is NOT for DS games, and as such the European release of Last Window will play on my US 3DS. So I got it when it came out, and have finally gotten around to experiencing Kyle Hyde’s second (and by all appearances final) adventure.
Last Window has the same purposeful, noir sensibilities that were present in Hotel Dusk, and I love them just as much here. As I said about Hotel Dusk, Last Window knows exactly what it wants to be and sticks to that vision from start to finish. All the little immersive touches are back, including holding the DS like a book, an almost sketchy art style with varying degrees of limited color use depending on the situation, and a deliberate, tense atmosphere that surrounds the central mystery.
The basics of story and gameplay are introduced with a strong, short prologue tutorial, which is followed with excellently paced first chapter to get things moving. A good portion of the cast is introduced pretty naturally in first chapter yet with surprising speed. Four minutes in I had met seven new characters and been reintroduced to three from Hotel Dusk, yet nothing felt rushed or overwhelming.
Kyle Hyde is a classic hard boiled detective protagonist: surly and blunt, but capable of compassion. He’s living in a soon-to-be-sold building called Cape West, formerly a hotel and rumored to be the site of mysterious crimes many years prior.
Like the titular Hotel Dusk from the first game, Cape West provides the entirety of the locales for gameplay. Unlike the hotel however, Kyle will occasionally leave his apartment building for story related reasons during cutscenes. Last Window also takes place over the course of days, not hours, which allows for much more natural story pacing and room for developments to breathe a bit. A couple of small but nice refinements to gameplay mechanics and a clever nod to Hotel Dusk in the extras that allows some fleshing out of story points do a good job of moving things forward as a series without losing what made Hotel Dusk great.
I feel Last Window is tighter than Hotel Dusk overall. Outside of one rather HUGE one in the premise, there are fewer coincidences here in terms of timing and motivations. I understand that the tighter plot might leave some feeling things tie together too neatly in some respects, but I thought it was all within the realm of believability for the story being told and really liked the way things came together for the most part. The events of Hotel Dusk were referred to and important to Last Window in certain respects so I do highly recommend playing that first, but Last Window has its own story that’s fairly distinct and removed from Hyde’s quest in Hotel Dusk involving his past as a detective.
The self given “interactive mystery novel” is once again a perfect description for this series. There are puzzles, and they are integrated well, but everything is geared towards satisfying the mental itch that gets ahold of Hyde when things don’t quite make sense and piecing together connections and explanations for the mysterious happening surrounding him. Both the characters and plot are very well built and developed by the end, and I might have ended up liking this a touch better than Hotel Dusk overall.
The events in Last Window are appropriately tied up, but room was left for more adventures with Kyle Hyde. From the general direction of the story I was afraid things would feel forced, but I was pleasantly surprised that I found it fit together and unfolded well instead. Easter eggs are also plentiful for fans who’ve played the first game.
I’m as thrilled that Last Window turned out to be a more than worthy successor to Hotel Dusk as I am disappointed that it was never released in the US and that it was the end of Kyle Hyde’s stories. Mystery fans and retro-gamers should definitely seek this (as well as Hotel Dusk) out.