By Laura . February 2, 2010 . 5:28pm
The year is 1980. Setting, Los Angeles. It is dark, and a man steps out of the wagon stopped in front of Cape West Apartments. The man slams the car door shut with a scowl, and he drags his feet up the steps. Along the way, he passes a strange woman with sunglasses, despite the darkness of night, and a wide-brimmed hat, but he gives her little more than a glance. He has more on his mind tonight.
One year has passed since the events in Hotel Dusk: Room 215, and things have been going on as usual. Perhaps too much as usual, because Ed, Kyle’s boss, suddenly gets sick of his employee’s slacking. All the sleeping in cars when he should be working and the lack of calls finally got to his nerves, and the next time Kyle finally decides to phone in, the only words he gets in return are “You’re fired!”
Shocked, Kyle makes it back to the apartment, where he had been living in on and off for four years, still with the vague hopes that Ed was just kidding. With nothing else to do, Kyle can only stay at “home.” Due to his job, Kyle had never spent much time around here before, so he didn’t really know any of the inhabitants well. Nor did he know about the eviction notice either, which stated that he would have to move by the end of the year because the building was being demolished.
Then Kyle got another letter. As Kyle learns, even being kicked out of Red Crown doesn’t stop requests from coming in, as he is suddenly asked to “Search for the Red Star that was lost 25 years ago.” This was particularly odd because such requests should never have gone straight to him even when he was with the company and especially not now, when he was off the job, but it all only got stranger when he finally decided to look into the apartments in hopes of a hint to the object in question. It was no secret that up until only 13 years ago, the Cape West Apartments actually went by Hotel Cape West, so searching for an object that had disappeared before that would be neigh impossible.
But what Kyle doesn’t realize is that not only does the Red Star exist, it is right under his nose, and his journey to find it will lead him to discover the truth behind two interconnected murders – one 13 years ago, and another 25 years ago. The former is a direct consequence of the latter, and the latter deals intricately with Kyle’s past. Kyle will finally, now that he is the same age as his father was when he died, unravel the truth behind his parent’s death.
Most of the mechanics of Hotel Dusk were carried over to Last Window: Midnight Promise. The game is more or less split between: walking around, solving a multitude of puzzles using the touch screen, finding evidence, and interrogating characters with a visual-style interface for dialogue. However, Cing added many small details that just made the game a better experience. The sound of Kyle’s footsteps change as he walks over hardwood, then carpet, then down the empty cement basement. Almost every person’s gestures are, as usual, extremely well-animated, but now it’s almost like you can sense a person’s personality from the way he or she smiles. There is also a new choice you can choose whenever you are given the chance to interrupt someone. Instead of being given no choice but to cut in, you can ignore what he or she is saying, prompting him/her to continue. This may seem like a trivial aspect, but at times this will be the only way to deal with your conversation partner and to avoid a game over.
There are some additional differences in focus. The story in Hotel Dusk focused on Kyle’s own past – the reason why he quit the police force four years ago – while that in Last Window looks more at the past before Kyle – his father’s past, to be more precise. A heavier emphasis is placed on family, as we meet Kyle’s mother for the first time and learn about Kyle’s childhood, somewhat. This pattern carries over to the side characters as well, as the great majority of their problems stem from family-related issues as well.
This game also has more of a hardboiled voice than its prequel did. The dialogue enforces this, as well as the narration, with Kyle’s attitude and the short sentences sometimes employed. However, even more obvious is that everything Kyle does is written in a novel form after you finish the chapter. The novel can be accessed from the menu easily, so if you haven’t played the game in a while, it’s a great way to catch up with what had happened. The only problem is that, since it’s moderately detailed (not every line of dialogue is shown) the chapters can be long (the first chapter was 85 pages long). This link between book and game is a nice touch and adds to the flavor of the game. In fact, one of the (only) extras you get at the end of the game is every chapter to the book, including the epilogue, so you can read it at your own leisure to whatever background music you want.
The art in the sequel has improved greatly since the first game. The gestures are fuller, and the watercolors used in the background creates a unique feel. Indeed, the best place where the art shines is during the opening, where you have a full minute or so of animation, colored purely in watercolors (or what looks like it, at least). You can see a montage of it, more or less, in this trailer.
Last Window is similar enough to Hotel Dusk for fans to enjoy, and engaging enough for them to rejoice about.