In 2010, “Last Window: The Secret of Cape West” was released for the Nintendo DS as a sequel to “Hotel Dusk: Room 215”. However, since developer Cing filed for bankruptcy earlier that year, the game was only released in Japan and Europe. If you’re like me and dead-set on playing it, it’s possible to play an English version of the game, since the DS is region free.
“Last Window” takes place in 1980 in Los Angeles, a year after the events of “Hotel Dusk”. The game opens with a short clip of a man breaking into a safe, only to be shot and left for dead. The screen then cuts to Kyle Hyde, the main character of the game, as he is talking to his boss on the phone. Due to Hyde’s general lazy attitude, he is fired from his job at the Red Crown company. As if this wasn’t bad enough, when he returns to his apartment, Hyde learns that the building is going to be demolished at the end of the month.
Things become mysterious, however, when Hyde sees a strange woman in sunglasses and a large black hat leaving the apartment building and a message to find a certain item. The message tells him to locate the Scarlet Star that went missing from Hotel Cape West twenty-five years ago. When he finds out that this is somehow connected to his father’s unsolved murder, Hyde begins to untangle the web of lies spun in the Cape West apartments and learns that not everything is at it seems.
The controls of the game are essentially the same as in “Hotel Dusk”. One of the more prominent new features is the ignore option, which is required in several discussions. If Hyde asks or ignores too many questions, it’s an instant game over, which can be really obnoxious at times. This was difficult to get used to and I spent a lot of time wondering if I needed to ignore a question or not. A new feature of this game is the story mode, where players can go back and read a novelized account of the story as written by Martin Summer, a character from “Hotel Dusk”.
Many of the characters in “Last Window” can be compared to the characters in “Hotel Dusk”, as well. Tony Wolf, who lives across the hall from Hyde, is very similar to Louis DeNono, who ends up helping Hyde more often than Hyde would care to admit. Marie Rivet is similar to Iris, as both women appear to be cold and aloof, but have a darker history than anyone can imagine. Margaret Patrice, the landlady of Cape West Apartments, is very similar to Dunning Smith of “Hotel Dusk” both in personality and in past experiences with the crime syndicates Nile and Condor.
There are a few points in “Last Window” that remind me of moments in “Trace Memory”, a mystery game released by Cing in 2005. Hyde’s manner of speaking slightly resembles the way Richard Robbins speaks in “Trace Memory”. In the last chapter of the game, the music most often played sounds very similar to the music played in “Trace Memory” when Ashley is exploring Blood Edward Island. Much like in “Trace Memory” and “Hotel Dusk”, “Last Window” ends each chapter with a series of follow-up questions that summarizes the events that occured in that chapter.
Like that of “Hotel Dusk”, the music in “Last Window” is phenomenal. One of the things that interested me is that one of the songs in the game was “written” by Tony, Hyde’s musician neighbour who is trying to get a job in the music industry. Just a word of advice for those who plan on playing this game well after sunset: if you are playing the many parts of the game where Hyde must go exploring the fourth floor, play with the lights on. The music played while Hyde is exploring the fourth floor is a bit creepy when playing the game in complete darkness. Additionally, one of the last songs in the game sounds like it should be in “Trace Memory”, as it sounds somewhat cheerful with a tint of seriousness.
Despite the good qualities of the game, one of the most telling things is the fact that some of the events in the game are very predictable. The most telling thing for me was when Hyde and Tony were sneaking around the fourth floor when Hyde was suddenly attacked with sleep gas and knocked unconscious. Almost the exact same thing took place in “Hotel Dusk” when Hyde and Louis were hit over the head with a hammer. Since the beginning of the game, I’d been waiting for the moment when Hyde would be rendered unconscious by something.
“Last Window” is a fantastic sequel to “Hotel Dusk”, as it keeps players anticipating what is going to happen next with just the right amount of plot twists to keep the story new and surprising. I happened to be playing while hanging out with a few friends when I learned who murdered Hyde’s father and they were surprised at my reaction because while it was entirely believable who the murderer was, I had not been able to predict it. Needless to say that this is one game that I’ll be playing over and over again for years to come.