All the small things: For what it’s worth, when the adventure/puzzle solving parts work well, they are quite enjoyable. Exploring rooms can be a treat when you find something useful or have a clear objective to find something in a room.
The conversations are also enjoyable when the replies aren’t so one sided and you actually feel like you are figuring out how to get inside someones head. Those parts are where the interaction really shines, and the supposedly harder parts (the boss battles if I may) could have used more that subtlety. I have hit points where I thought I was saying the right things, only to realize that I fell into a characters clever trap of words and deceit.
Not spelling everything out:Though I have complained about a certain “vague specificity”, I also want to applaud the game for not trying to spell everything out when giving out directions. People mention things like “he doesn’t like cops” or “he’s shaking everyone down looking for the missing items” and they point you in the right direction as to what to do and what not to do to avoid a game over screen without holding the player by the hand.
It’s all about the aesthetics, baby: Normally I wouldn’t even be mentioning these things, as they are all not focused around the gameplay. But the characters, the story, the music and the overall style all work together to create a compelling world that makes the plethora of issues that I listed above almost melt away for a good deal of the experience.
The characters are well written and the stylized animated portraits really show off their current state of mind even though each character has a finite amount of portraits to show off an array of feelings. The story is all about corruption, deceit, theft, kidnapping, isolation and so much more and whole style works to keep the player feeling the weight of what is going on.
As you can see, from my viewpoint, Hotel Dusk is a game that suffers because of some poor gameplay elements and overall design issues and yet succeeds despite all of that. Much like the recently released Heavy Rain, the experience is better than the parts that make up the game. All current and upcoming games can learn where this game tripped up and hopefully improve on this long stagnant genre.