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External Review: Last Window

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Introduction

Previously Hotel Dusk was released, introducing a character called Kyle Hyde from a chirpy little company from Japan called CiNG. CiNG shows gamers their final title both in the series and from the studio in form of Last Window, a sequel to the sleeper hit Hotel Dusk produced by the studio only years before. Does Last Window answer the dying questions fans wanted to know from the original? Or does it struggle to bring the elements which were presented only years before in a brand new and thrilling tale.

Gameplay

Last Window is set up in a very similar manner to Hotel Dusk and other CiNG titles. The involves reading the majority of the time and interrupting what has been said to issue a response to solve the mystery and further yourself within the game. It also features puzzles which players must solve to gain access to an item or achieve a certain action.

Last Window is a sequel to Hotel Dusk, but it is written from the perspective of one of the residing characters from Hotel Dusk, Martian Summers. CiNG has offered players because of it advancement on their chapter system, every time a player completes a chapter it is converted into a novel. The novel is written based around your actions, which means if you don’t complete something or it is forgotten then the writing will reflect that.

In Hotel Dusk we saw a very stern Kyle Hyde who was in some ways almost robotic which is actions. In Last Window it seems the writing has allowed Kyle Hyde to open up a little more and we end up seeing more emotional responses and thoughts from Kyle. In some ways the writing now feels more along the lines of Another Code, another series from the developer.

The story follows Kyle Hyde after been told he is to evict his apartment within two weeks and then shortly after been informed he has been fired from Red Crown. Featuring familiar characters such as Ed Vincent, Rachel and Mila Evans players will smile at references from the original game, but new players will still be able to grasp most of the conversation with these old characters as CiNG includes little blurbs about how Kyle has meet these characters in the previous title, which are sometimes repeated through the game.

New characters and themes include the mysteries of Cape West both when it became an apartment building and when it was a Hotel. The characters within the apartments will also have their own mysteries and problems (like in Hotel Dusk) with other tenants of the building. Also like Hotel Dusk the game will feature the criminal organizational Nile as well as introducing a new one Condor.

Players will learn about Kyle’s parents this time around with the story of Bradley been left in the cold. Kyle’s mum will ring up from time to time, while Kyle’s dad is wrapped up in the mysteries Cape West holds.

Also changed are puzzles in Last Window puzzles are based more around the manipulation of the touch screen. There are also puzzles much like the original which involve closing the Nintendo DS screen to perform an action. However the difficulty with these puzzles remains within the boundaries of realistic, but at the same time will trip players up in throwing puzzles at them at odd intervals. Players will also notice that the difficulty of the puzzles, while very much the same difficulty fluctuate from easier to harder on a whim, and it’s not necessary the puzzle but more the technique to achieve the result.

After completion of the game, players can play the mini games such as Snooker which has been collected throughout the gameplay. Players can also read the full finished novel. Like past CiNG titles if the player chooses to start the game over in the same save they will notice slight changes to the games story as sort of Easter Eggs for playing.

Controls

The controls are quite similar to previous titles from the developer. Players hold the DS like a book and use the touch screen to walk and select various commands. The buttons can perform some of the on screen commands as well. Players will also find most puzzles reside on the touch screen and do not feature control options for other buttons etc.

Graphics

Fans of the original title will notice that not much has changed, the game still features rotoscoping to animate its characters and as well as the brushwork style on the backgrounds as well as other objects. However, CiNG seems to have learned a few things from their most resent title Again, with Last Window featuring grainy animations before each chapter to set the mood.

Sound

While I love the soundtrack it is quite a shame that not much has changed since Hotel Dusk when it comes to the soundtrack. Fans who have played the original will notice various scores at very familiar places as the original. Though the game does introduce some new tracks which are very similar to the rest by giving off the same “elevator style” music which the series prides itself on.

Dual screen

The DS is held like a book and the “top” screen is always used for Kyle Hide. While the “touch screen” is used for navigation, puzzles, interaction with other characters and more.

Final comments

Last Window answers more questions from the original (while leaving out a few), and the ones presented in the title made Kyle realise the only thing left to solve is where he would get his coffee from. With that in mind it was a perfect end to the series- while it is sad it has to end, it couldn’t have been done any better or worse.

Pro: Clever sequel with a fitting story to end the series.
Con: Dialogue repeats itself . Puzzles have less charm then the original..
Final score: 8.5

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