Last Window: The Secret of Cape West - Review

Last Window: The Secret of Cape West is the not so well known sequel to what some might call one of the greatest DS games out there, Hotel Dusk: Room 215. Sadly not too long after Last Window was completed it's developer, CING, went out of business, and the game was only released in the JP and EU regions. However thanks to the region free DS, Last Window is one of them games that can easily be imported and played anywhere in the world! But is it worth it? Well lets find out!

Step into the life of Kyle Hyde:

Last Window follows the story of EX NYPD detective by the name of Kyle Hyde, and picks up about a year after the original game Hotel Dusk. After shooting his partner Bradley, Kyle ended up leaving the force to work for his dad's friend, Ed, as a traveling salesmen at his company Red Crown. Although Red Crown appears to be a standard company that deals in all things sales related, Ed also has a secret side job. Finding things that don't always want to be found.

Back in 1979 Kyle was sent out to an old Hotel, known as Hotel Dusk, in order to find a few missing items for the company. It was a standard job of finding missing items, but soon Kyle found himself involved in a huge mystery. After checking in at the front desk, and learning that another guest had stayed their before with his name, Kyle is given the legendary "Wish" room 215, and his world is turned upside down.

After a young girl who is unable to speak shows up at the hotel, everything begins to change. The young girl was wearing a bracelet which had belonged to Bradley's sister Mila, and Kyle quickly notices. "Why does she have Bradley's bracelet?" "Could Bradley be the one who stayed here and used my name?" These question lead Kyle Hyde on a long night of searching for answers, and along the way not only did he uncover the truth of Hotel Dusk, but also the truth of what had happened to his partner.

It's now been a year since the events of Hotel Dusk and Kyle Hyde has gotten back to his everyday life. Once again Kyle is selling goods as a traveling salesman, and he simply lives day by boring day; however that pattern soon comes to an end. After not reporting in to Red Crown, or hardly even working for a few days, Kyle finally pushes Ed too far and gets fired. Not really knowing what to do, Kyle then packs up his things and makes his way back home to his apartment "Cape West."

Unlike in Hotel Dusk, Last Window focuses more on the personal side of Kyle Hyde. While Hotel Dusk focused more on the lives of the other hotel guests, as well as the mystery of the hotel its self, Last Window focuses on Kyle Hyde's daily life as well as his past. For the first time players finally get to learn who Kyle really is. What was his home life like? Why did he become a detective? Who are his friends? Everything fans of Hotel Dusk might have ever wanted to know finally sees the light.

Although Kyle has been living at Cape West for quite a few years now, it seems that he hardly knows anyone. As a traveling salesmen Kyle hardly spends any time at home, and he really has no interest in the lives of the ones around him; however after learning that the apartments are closing down, everything changes. After returning to his room Kyle finds a mysterious letter asking him to find the "Scarlet Star" which had gone missing back when the apartments were still a hotel. Although Kyle isn't quite sure what to do at first, he soon finds himself once again working to solve another massive mystery. A mystery of murder, stolen goods, and even the mystery behind his father's death.

Stepping into the shoes of a detective once again:

Just like in Hotel Dusk, players will find themselves searching through an old hotel turned apartments. By holding the DS on it's side like a book, and by using the touch screen to control Kyle, players will be able to search different areas, chat with Kyle's neighbors, and even solve puzzles. Although the game's major focus is on the story, the gameplay takes on the style of an old graphic adventure pc game. While the touch screen serves as your controls and shows a top view 2D view of the map, the left, or right depending if you're left or right handed, screen will show a first person 3D view. By pressing the "search" icon on the touch screen you can also go into a full "search" view of the given area. Almost every object in the apartments can be searched, and it's up to the player to figure out what to do with whatever they can find. Most of the time objects you search will just be normal objects, such as chairs, tvs, or plants, but a lot of the time you'll also come across objects you'll need to solve puzzles.

Puzzles in Last Window are not always puzzles like you would expect. Sure once in awhile you may come across something simple, such as a cross word puzzle, but most of the time you'll be dealing with issues you may come across in real life. For example during the first hour or so of the game you'll have to find a missing ring which has apparently fallen in-between two desks. How do you get it? Well by searching the room you'll be able to find different objects that you might be able to use to reach it. This is where common sense comes in.

Last Window really isn't one of them games where you can lose. Sure it is possible to do something wrong and get a game over screen, but by simply clicking on the retry button will put you right back where you where which allows you to try other options. Get caught somewhere you shouldn't be? Well just hit retry and make sure you don't get caught next time! Really it's not that big of a deal if you mess up, but that might not be a good thing in everyone's eyes.

When talking to others there are also many different options you can chose; however it really doesn't make too much of a difference in the end. Sometimes when talking to someone you might want to ask them a question based on something you found out earlier, while other times leaving them alone might be best. It's completely up to the player what they want to do, but once again, you can get a game over by saying or doing the wrong things. Either way all conversations basically stick to a set script and will either end the way they were intended to, or they'll end with a game over causing you to retry.

The only real problem with Last Window's gameplay is the whole note system. Like in the original Hotel Dusk you can leave yourself notes on what you need to do at different times, and that can cause some problems. Since the game doesn't always tell you where you need to go, you really need to stay on top of them notes. Sometimes the game will make it clear that you need to find something in the basement, but if you quit playing and didn't leave yourself a note, what are you going to do the next time you play? You'll start up the game just standing there in a hall with nothing around and no idea what to do. If you want to progress you'll either have to look up a guide and find where you left off, or you'll have to search every room until you finally figure out how to advance the story.

Although Last Story is very good about keeping you on track, which was something Hotel Dusk seemed to have a hard time of doing, you can make the game a lot harder for yourself by not using that note system. If you know you're going to stop playing, it's always a good idea to either save in front of the person you need to talk to, or you can simply leave yourself a note.

The Art Style:

Like in Hotel Dusk, Last Window uses a very unique art style to go along with it's 70s/80s vibe. The game world its self has a "dusty" feel to it and feels very real. Unlike in most games, nothing was done to make the game shiny, you're not going to see bright flashy colors, and you're not going to see any cartoony characters. The character art is made to look real but uses a hand drawn sketchy look. Every character has their own unique look, their facial expressions are realistic, and their overall art design looks just like something you'd seen in an actual novel. The game's art style is something that will appeal to both teens and adults alike, and it just fits well with the game world.

The little extra detail:

Even though Last Window's major focus is on the main story, there is quite a lot of extra detail which really makes this game a complete package. Not only will Kyle Hyde have some comment to say about every object in the game, which leads to hours of extra dialog, there are also a few mini games! However there is one extra feature in Last Window that really stands out above the rest. The Last Window Novel!

As you play through the "game" chapters become unlocked in what is known as the Last Window Novel. Just like the title says, the novel is in fact a "normal" novel version of the game! Although it doesn't add much to the gameplay, this is a really nice feature especially if you have friends or family who aren't into video games. Since Last Story is a visual novel in a since, but there still is some actual gameplay. Even though the main game is mostly reading, the actual "visual" and the"gameplay" aspects of the story may still turn some non video game fans away. Now that's where the "novel" comes in.

Basically you can play through the game, unlock all of the chapters, and then give it to your friend or family member to just flat out read. It requires no effort and allows them to sit back and enjoy it like they would a normal book. Sure the novel doesn't have as much text as the actual game, mainly due to the fact that not all of the dialog is included in the novel, but it still does a very good job explaining what is going on and what was said in a conversation. Either way, if someone only reads the novel, they'll know just as much, if not more, about the story as someone who has only played the game side. I'm not much of a reader myself, at least when it comes to novels, but I really enjoyed this aspect of the game. Not only was it a nicer refresher for the story, it also does explain a bit more about behind the scenes events, and that really added to the overall story.

So is Last Window worth it?

Well if you're the type of person who's looking for a game with great gameplay, then no, stay away from this game! Last Window is a slower moving mystery game which was created to give you a novel experience in game form. If you do not care about the story, and you hate reading, then this is not the game for you.

Anyway, Last Window is a great visual novel/pc graphic adventure game mix and has hours worth of story. The art style is great, the amount of detail put into the world is outstanding, it's got a great story, and it has some of the best writing you'll EVER see in a video game. This game might not appeal to the younger audience, but both teens and adults alike are sure to enjoy this game's novel quality story. If you're a fan of mystery stories, gamer or not, this might just be the game for you.

For what it is, Last Window: The Secret of Cape West gets a 10/10! (Just remember to leave yourself a note from time to time!)

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