Last Window: The Secret of Cape West

Cing are best known for their puzzle games which centre around a gripping narrative. Another Code: Two Memories was one such title, and Hotel Dusk: Room 215 was another. (On a side note, they were also behind the excellent, but non-puzzle game, Little Kings Story). Have you played Hotel Dusk: Room 215? Last Window: The Secret of Cape West is the sequel to that game for the DS, although the two stories stand alone so you won’t be missing too much. Still, playing the first game will only enhance your experience of the second, as Last Window is full of little references to Kyle Hyde’s first adventure.

The main character is Kyle Hyde, an ex-detective currently working as a salesman for Red Crown, a firm which has a side business of ‘finding things that don’t want to be found’. A year after the eventful day spent at Hotel Dusk, Kyle is home at the Cape West Apartments where another mystery waits to be unravelled. A note is left in his door, asking him to find the ‘Scarlet Star’; the landlady has suddenly sold the place giving the tenants a week to evacuate; rumours are flying around about a terrible incident that happened thirteen years ago and there’s a dodgy guy skulking around, poking into Kyle’s past.

Last Window is a visual novel with touch-screen puzzles and point-and-click elements. The left screen shows a 3D view of Kyle’s surroundings while the touch screen shows a top-down map view that you can use to drag Kyle around the room and examine things. In conversation, Kyle and his partner are split across the two screens. It is very, very much so a visual novel, so if you don’t like reading large volumes of text, then it won’t be for you. The puzzles fit within the context of the story, for example, search a room for a lost ring, work out the combination to your mailbox and so on, but the bulk of the game consists of reading Kyle’s thoughts and his conversations with fellow residents. To further reinforce the idea of the game/novel crossover, the DS is rotated to be held like a book, and even in the game itself there is a novelisation of the story: an e-book that you can read with each chapter unlocked once you’ve finished the corresponding chapter in the game. There are also ‘sealed files’ available, with extra backstory and information that comes in useful and goes further towards fleshing out the universe of the game.

It all plays the same as its predecessor, but this is no bad thing. There are the same watercolour and black ink visuals and the same sketchy animations that make it look as if you’re reading a graphic novel in places. The gameplay is still based around text conversation choices, point-and-click mechanics and touch-screen puzzles. The music is even largely the same. This doesn’t matter, though, because it was all good the first time and it’s just as good the second time around. The timescale of the game, however, is different, spaced over a week rather than one long day, so the pacing can feel much slower and ever so slightly linear in some places.

Talking of slow pacing, don’t come to this game for a quick fix. It’s a slow, slow burner and you’ll need to, and indeed, want to dedicate your time to it. Essentially, it’s like an interactive novel you can’t really put down. Cing definitely have a talent for writing engaging stories, unfortunately the company has recently declared bankruptcy which affects the chances of us seeing more of the same beautifully absorbing work from them.

The biggest draw of this game is its story. Hotel Dusk and Cing’s other prominent series, Another Code, had very well realised and constructed stories which maintained the mystery the whole way through. Last Window has an equally engaging story, although the longer timescale makes parts drag. Still, the game redeems itself by slowly revealing details that draw you in, and delivering a story that’s like any good old detective case – things start off small and seemingly unimportant before spiralling into something bigger that forces our hero to confront something within himself and his own troubled past.







2 responses to “Last Window: The Secret of Cape West”

  1. Dean avatar

    My god – i’m so itching to play this, but i think i’ll save it for those long winter nights you mentioned. When i played the first one I stayed up until 4am 3 nights running to finish it. I’m gutted that this is the last we’ll see of Kyle Hyde, but glad that it got localised despite Cing going bankrupt:(

  2. Joanne avatar

    oooh wow, I loved Hotel Dusk, will definitely be on the lookout for this.

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