I had been looking forward to this game since it was announced (at E3 I believe). I'm a huge fan of the Phoenix Wright series, so I thought this game was right up my alley. However one thing concerned me... it was made by the same folks who did Trace Memory.
I didn't like Trace Memory. I thought the story was uninteresting (and I was disappointed and annoyed by the ending) and the whole presentation was very blandly executed. Tap on a bookshelf and maybe there will be an item that you need and so on. The only redeeming quality was some clever DS-feature puzzles.
Hotel Dusk is very similar to Trace Memory, but improved in most ways. The story, although it starts out at an absolute crawl, is terrific. It's kind of like the show Lost. Every guest in the hotel has their own story that you go through (or pry outta them) and each story contributes to a greater underlying story. And just about all the stories are interesting. The mysteries will keep you tapping through. And there will be one or more occasions where the stories are even heartwarming. It's amazing how well you get to know these characters.
Your character starts out as a complete jerk (and in a way stays that way), but in order to advance through the game and not get kicked out of the hotel, you have to make him more likable by choosing what he says. Though it may seem at first that this game is tailored for young adult boys (it's got some mild profanity), I can see it being just as enjoyed by young girl casual gamers.
The puzzles in this game are not hard at all. Some may throw you off for a bit, but a small amount of thinking and notetaking solves everything. There are a few clever uses for the DS, but nothing really mindblowing. I'm glad that the puzzles are doable, but I kinda wish they were a little more challenging and rewarding. There are many moments where you have to choose the correct thing to say (between 2 possible responses) in a row, otherwise the game is over. This is pretty frustrating and the game overs happen often, so make sure to save a lot so you don't have to go through a lot of text dialogue again.
I'm not a big fan of the quiz at the end of each chapter. Trace Memory did the same and I find it really annoying that they need to reiterate the story.
But if you can stick through the first two chapters, you'll find a beautifully crafted game with excellent characters, stories and storytelling. It's been a real pleasure walking in the shoes of the main character, Kyle Hyde. And I'll be sad when it ends. Hoping this will be a franchise. 4 1/2 stars