Last Window: The Secret of Cape West (DS) Review

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Released in 2010 by CiNG as the sequel to their previous title Hotel Dusk, Last Window is the latest game I finished on my 3DS. Unfortunately for Western audiences, the game only was released in Japan and Europe, but luckily does have an English translation available for import. I bought mine through Amazon for an admittingly high price, but now that I’ve completed it, I can safely say it was well worth the cost.

With that said, I’m gonna cover my thoughts on four main aspects: Story, graphics, sound and gameplay.

Story:

While you don’t HAVE to play Hotel Dusk to enjoy this game, you won’t really get the full experience if you don’t. There are references to a few characters and events from Hotel Dusk that will leave you confused otherwise. That said, the story/mystery in this game kept me hooked throughout. In it, you’re Kyle Hyde, an ex-detective-turned-salesman who through a series of events uncovers a few mysteries surrounding his home – an apartment building called Cape West. With the help of a batch of quirky new characters, you try to find out the truth behind the building’s past.

If you think I’m being vague here, it’s because I am. There are a few twists and turns in the story that would spoil the plot if I mentioned them here. If you have or plan to play Hotel Dusk, this story lends itself to not only exploring themes from that game’s plot, but also capping off Hyde’s adventures in a satisfying way.

Graphics:

Whether you’ve played Hotel Dusk or not, the graphics here are pretty standard. You explore 3D environments and interact with 3D objects. When talking, Kyle and the other characters are presented like pencil sketch drawings that animate depending on their reactions. It makes for a stylized presentation, especially in brief cutscenes. In Last Window, there is also an opening 3D cutscene to set up the story. I’m not sure if it was because of DS compression or my 3DS running the game, but this particular cutscene was a bit blocky and blurry. There were also a couple graphical glitches in the 3D rooms, but they didn’t take away from the game for me.

Sound:

The music in this game, while not all unforgettable, set the mood at the appropriate times. I enjoyed some of the main themes, such as one that plays when Kyle’s on the phone or another when he visits the building’s cafe. There is an in-game jukebox where you can hear the tunes as they’re unlocked within the game. The sound effects are also top-notch and realistic, such as creaking doors and footsteps. Since the game doesn’t have voiceovers, the music and sounds coincide well with the facial expressions and dialogue of each character.

Gameplay:

The game is broken up into 10 chapters in all. In each, you gather clues throughout the hotel and speak with characters to either solve a dilemma they’re having or gain information. Essentially, this is a point-and-click game mixed with text-heavy information gathering.

When exploring the building and rooms, you have the option to click on just about everything. Some things will only yield a comment from Kyle and others can be picked up to use later either as evidence to show to a character or as part of a puzzle to solve. Yes, there are puzzles in this game as well, ranging from easy to moderately difficult.

Most of the chapters and game is spent going between the various characters, each with their own unique personality. When speaking to them, questions will be brought up. If the question is yellow, it’s strictly for information. If it’s white, it’s a question that Kyle can ask several people. And if it’s red, it’s interrogation time. Mess up on these and you can earn yourself a game over. There is also a new option where rather than press on something a person says, you can choose to ignore it. This option can be used as a safe measure when you aren’t sure pressing is a good idea.

This game is VERY text-heavy, so if you happen to have played Hotel Dusk or even the Ace Attorney series and got annoyed by the large amount of dialogue, chances are Last Window won’t change your mind. To that end, the developers even included a full-length novel that opens up chapter by chapter as you play through the game. This novel details the game’s events and includes a secret case file at the end of each chapter. The case files can be used to help you if you get stuck, but not opening these may give you a reward at the game’s end. As with Hotel Dusk, you do have an in-game notebook to take notes if you get stuck on any puzzles, or just if you wanna doodle for fun.

To sum up: If you’re a fan of Hotel Dusk, you will enjoy this game. If you want to play this game and have not played Hotel Dusk, you may still enjoy it, but prepare to be a little confused by some of the references. And finally, if you’ve played text-heavy games in the past and disliked them, this game is not for you. For me, I felt this was a worthy sequel to Hotel Dusk and enjoyed it thoroughly. The story’s intriguing, the gameplay’s just as fun as I remembered, the characters were likable and the game’s quality overall was great.

My rating for Last Window: The Secret of Cape West is a solid 9/10. While I wish there could have been more games with Kyle Hyde (R.I.P. CiNG), this one made for a fitting send-off.

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