Game Review

Last Window: The Secret of Cape West Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Henry Stockdale

A fitting send-off from Cing

Throughout its lifespan, the DS has been a popular medium for graphic adventure games, many of which have become very successful. 2007 saw one such example in the form of Hotel Dusk: Room 215. Developed by Cing, also well known for the Trace Memory/Another Code series and published by Nintendo, it was a hit among gamers so it's no surprise to see that three years later, Cing returns with a sequel in the form of Last Window: The Secret Of Cape West. Unfortunately, last March the company declared bankruptcy, making this its final title. So the question stands: is it a worthy sequel to Hotel Dusk? In short, yes, it is.

The story begins in Los Angeles, 1980, a year after the events of Hotel Dusk. Kyle Hyde has just been fired from his job at Red Crown and has just discovered he faces eviction from his home at the Cape West Apartments due to its demolition. On top of that, he's also become more curious than ever about the death of his father. Upon heading back to his room, he receives an anonymous letter telling him to locate an item known as the “Scarlet Star”, which disappeared 25 years ago at the site when Cape West was a Hotel and soon learns of an event from 13 years ago, which he believes to all be connected.

For those of you who haven't played the original Hotel Dusk, there's no need to worry here as the storyline is separate from Last Window's predecessor, although there are several references to the original adventure throughout the game. The game packs quite a story, with an intriguing storyline filled with mystery, some well-developed characters and an interesting gameplay structure with conversations that are sure to keep gamers stuck to their DSes.

The basic gameplay remains unchanged here from Hotel Dusk. During the game, your main task is investigation, with several ways to go about this. First off, while you wander through the levels, there will be particular areas for you to examine closely, allowing you to examine or interact with particular items as well, such as a hammer for breaking a glass bottle in one instance. This all works very well and makes good use of the DS but at times it can be irritating not to be able to find what you're looking for, though this is a common issue with similar titles.

The other side of your investigations comes mainly from conversations with characters. You can talk to them and ask them different questions, and they'll often say something to which you as the player must choose a response. Choose the right response and more questions will open up, getting you more information, but be warned as choosing the wrong response can anger characters and affect the storyline in some ways, even leading to "Game Over"s. You'll sometimes be allowed to enquire about certain details of interest mentioned by characters when talking, allowing you to make further progress in the game. However, the dialogue does tend to drag on at times when talking to other characters which gamers may find slightly irritating.

However, Cing has introduced an “Ignore” feature for Last Window, alongside the Enquiring ability, which will allow you to ignore particular lines of questioning and get on with the game if you so choose. You have to be careful with this, as using the feature too often will lead to you missing out on important story details at times, leading to a Game Over. It's a good addition to the game that feels like a natural fit.

Another notable new addition to the game is the inclusion of an interactive novel named after the game. This novel is like a diary, recording the storyline of the game but in a more dramatic and expanded style and forms a pretty nice addition to the game. A new novel chapter is unlocked whenever you finish a chapter in the game, with 10 chapters overall making for interesting, if rather long reading at times. At the back of the novel there is also a secret file which contains hints that may help you during that chapter. However, if you choose not to look at it you'll be rewarded later on, so choose carefully here.

You hold the DS on its side like a book and control the game in two different ways, either by the touchscreen or the D-Pad. You can freely explore the 3D environments, just like before, with the touchscreen containing a basic map and the top screen showing your current location in 3D. The DS controls makes very good use of the DS as you use the touchscreen for a variety of different purposes, most of which seem simple and natural, from solving jigsaw puzzles to simply knocking on a door, as well as writing down notes in a memo pad.

Graphically, Last Window is as brilliant as its predecessor. The pencil-drawn character art mixed in with colour backgrounds gave the original game a unique feel and life, and while this is still perfectly intact here every bit as good, not much has changed from before. The game's audio is also excellent, and although there's no voice acting at all for the cutscenes, the soundtrack features some nice tunes that complement the game. There's also the option to choose from a variety of music you listen to while reading the Last Window novel and the option to also tune Hyde's radio to a particular song, both nice touches.

Conclusion

Overall, Last Window won't suit everyone's style. It's a lot slower than similar games on the DS, and one that requires time and patience to get through and this isn't helped by the text-heavy nature of the game. However, for those who can appreciate graphic adventure games, it makes notable improvements over its predecessor resulting in a rewarding experience that will keep you occupied for many hours.

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User Comments (44)

Yasume

#1

Yasume said:

I really want to play this, but I don't buy games at full price...I guess I have to wait a little longer.

HolyMackerel

#3

HolyMackerel said:

Great! I loved Hotel Dusk. Looking forward to this. Too bad about Cing, they've developed a number of great games.

Sneaker13

#6

Sneaker13 said:

And I just received it. What am I doing online telling it to you guys? I'm gonna play it.

NFreak007

#7

NFreak007 said:

I'll be buying this tomorrow! I loved Hotel Disk and both Another Code games. It's a real shame this will be Cing's last game, but it looks so good that I'm sure it will be an excellent swansong!

JonWahlgrenAdmin

#8

JonWahlgren said:

Oh, had no idea this was even out anywhere yet. I really need to get back to Hotel Dusk first.

Sneaker13

#10

Sneaker13 said:

Loving it so far. Looks stunning, great characters and absolutely fantastic music. Something Cing was always very good at. Curious too see what happen next. Poor Kyle, that's one very bad day.

bboy2970

#13

bboy2970 said:

So this doesn't have a great chance of coming to America I take it? Can anyone tell me if the UK version can be set on English?

madgear

#17

madgear said:

This is so sad. I LOVE Hotel Dusk and I have both Another Code games (DS and Wii) - they're so well made and I can't believe a company that makes such fine products has gone bankrupt.

I will definately be buying this game 100% - and on day one too just incase there's a chance it has a limited shelf life. I can't risk missing the sequel to one of the greatest adventure games I've ever played.

Lol @ bboy2970 - I can't believe someone has asked if they speak English in the UK. Maybe the US education system really is failing its students. Anyway is this really not coming to the US? I know Another Code R didn't make it over there - I wonder why Cing games get a UK release but not US.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#18

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Hotel Dusk and the Another Code series were/are superb games. A credit to gaming. I feel sorry for the workers of Cing as they did some brilliant work and earned their salt.

Terra

#19

Terra said:

With Regard To Whoever Asked If The Game Can Be Set In English
...You proud of what you just said? :P

Only kidding

TKOWL

#21

TKOWL said:

Never was a real fan of these kind of games... but I understand why a lot of people like it :)

bboy2970

#22

bboy2970 said:

@mad gear: I was pretty sure that it can be set to english but i thought I would ask on the off chance it couldnt cuz that would really suck to spend a bunch of money importing it just to find out I cant play it. better safe than sorry.....

EdEN

#23

EdEN said:

Really liked the first one so I hope Nintendo decides to release this over here.

Terra

#24

Terra said:

@Stuff - Quit complaining (:P), us Europeans have had to put up with stuff like this for a long time. Only in the last couple of years has the tide begun to turn

Stuffgamer1

#27

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Terra: It's cheaper for you to import from America than vice-versa, though, due to exchange rates. It's also easier from what I've seen online, as there seem to be a lot more sites that cater to Europeans importing American games than the other way around. I've done a LOT of work trying to find good sites, and never really came up with a better option than eBay. NoA's gone to heck in a handbasket and I HAVE to figure this crap out if I'm going to play these games at all. I think I have every right to be angry.:|

Terra

#29

Terra said:

@Stuff - I've never come across any of these import sites before. Like with you, eBay is my friend here. Also, I was not aware that importing from the UK was so expensive, I was told it was the same price both ways. As for NOA going to crap, Apologies, didn't realise Americans were having it rough.

It just annoys me when the whole importing issue comes up, and one which has been going on for years. Being someone who lives in the UK, Where We Speak English, the fact that there's a fair number of games that have an English translated version available in America (much more than the other way around) but not here, well, I think you understand.

theblackdragonAdmin

#30

theblackdragon said:

guys, he made a mistake, probably was thinking EU more than UK... we've all slipped before, so let's chill please.

BL_Donth

#31

BL_Donth said:

Awesome review Terra. It's not released here yet so I have plenty of time to hunt down a copy of Hotel Dusk.

Stuffgamer1

#32

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Terra: Over the past few years, I've come more and more to understand the long-standing plight of the European gamer. That doesn't justify a reversal, mind, and only a real jerk would be HAPPY that we're now suffering the same problems...not to say you are, mind, but your first reply came off very confrontational instead of understanding.

The main reason importing from the UK to America is the exchange rate: £1 = US $1.5620. That means that if I import a game that costs £29.49 (the cheapest listing for Last Window on eBay as I type this), it'll cost me $46.06 (plus shipping). If you import a $30 game, it's only £19.21 plus shipping. That effectively means that you could get most games cheaper by importing than buying local, whereas imports are much more expensive than local games in America.

I don't know how you could've missed the downfall of NoA, though. NPC Pikmin 2, Trace Memory 2 (Another Code: R to you), Disaster: Day of Crisis, Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, probably some I can't think of off-hand, and now this. And that doesn't even account for third parties that rarely publish here, foremost in my mind being Hudson (Bomberman Story DS and the horribly titled "Bomberman 2" never released here).

Terra

#34

Terra said:

@Stuff - Believe me, it gives me no joy to see a game released in one region but not the other. Well, at least we don't have it as rough as the Aussies have. As for sounding confrontational, sorry. I put the :P there to try and give the opposite impresson.

Oh I see now, I had the frame of mind that games cost the equivalent of what they did here. Hmm, that is quite a bum deal there. Guess that doesn't include stuff like Customs Charges either

I was aware of Disaster, Tingle and Another Code R not being released over there, wasn't about NPC Pikmin 2 and the Bomberman's, among the other 3rd party games. I wouldn't necessarily call it their downfall though, but they have definitely gone downhill.

Stuffgamer1

#35

Stuffgamer1 said:

I'm surprised you didn't know about NPC Pikmin 2, especially considering how much I've complained about it on NLife (read: a lot). It's a real pet peeve of mine, 'cause I sold my GCN copy of the game in anticipation, then they didn't release it! So now I don't have the game at all (GCN copies are too rare and expensive to be worth seeking out another one), and I'm not going to get Pikmin 3 if they don't FINALLY get around to fixing the situation.

Anyway, I didn't really think you were TRYING to be a jerk, but it just came off that way. Probably partially because this is just an all-around touchy subject, and because some European gamers really ARE that petty when I bring this stuff up. Glad we got that cleared up, anyway, and apology accepted. You're a good man, Terra.:)

And yes, downfall may be too strong a word. It's just getting REALLY annoying. It's not like we don't ALL miss out on way too many Japanese games already as it is (and that's getting worse lately too, BTW) without this rot.

Terra

#36

Terra said:

Sorry, I don't always read around on the forums a lot. I remember seeing some people complaining that it wasn't out but I assumed that it was gonna be released but it was just the wait annoying them. I don't really look at any Pikmin topics on the forums either, not a series that grabs my interest.

Thanks Stuff :)
I realise there's no point in being petty about the subject. The fact is that either way, there's still a large set of gamers missing out on a release, which is never good.

You make a good point about the Japanese games, some developers/publishers should at least experiment to see if a series would sell well over here, instead of always playing it safe, which always leaves us getting screwed over

Zach

#37

Zach said:

I remember when Nintendo thought that Pokemon was probably too Japanese.

gilla

#38

gilla said:

am loving the game but completley stuck at the mo as cant play franks tape!!!!!!! arrrrrrgggghhh

gilla

#40

gilla said:

thanks helsbelle xx

stuck again on chapter 10 where have i seen the symbols before and what do i do with them
please use the 'edit' link to edit your prior posts instead of double or triple-posting -- TBD

Terra

#42

Terra said:

I'll give you that one Gilla. That Elevator puzzle in Chapter 10 was very difficult to figure out

missxvamp

#44

missxvamp said:

i finished hotel dusk for the 2nd time the other day and went out and bourght this game i got it for £18 couldnt find it cheaper nyhoo its a great game so far i just hope it takes me a while to finish and it isnt a quick game i am already on chapter 3 x

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