Thursday, December 12, 2019

Six reasons I'm thrilled I finally got off my butt and played Last Window: The Secret of Cape West

I've had a copy of Last Window for ages. I honestly can't remember when I bought it, but this old post says I picked it up shortly after its European release in 2010, so I guess it's been about nine years?

Why did it take me so long to play it? For starters, it took me a long time to play its predecessor, Hotel Dusk: Room 215, too. That Nintendo DS game came out in early 2007, yet I didn't start my way through it until the summer of 2015. (Check out my thoughts on Hotel Dusk.)

That playthrough took me just over 17 hours, by the way. My recent-ish Last Window playthrough took just under 15 hours.

On a related note, I loved nearly every minute of the 15 or so hours I spent with now-defunct developer CiNG's Hotel Dusk sequel. Here are the main reasons why:

Kyle's not the only one with a pissy attitude

Kyle's pissy attitude--If Last Window's protagonist, former detective Kyle Hyde, were an actual person, I probably wouldn't like him very much. He grouchily reacts to almost every situation with suspicion, annoyance, and alarm. That wouldn't sit well with me in real life. Within the context of this game, though, it's not such a big deal. Actually, I found it eye-rollingly and even endearingly humorous whenever I encountered it here.

The hilariously dramatic "Game Over" scenes--Few events in the world of video games tickle me as much as botching a puzzle or interaction in Last Window (or Hotel Dusk) and then seeing Kyle's head drop, the screen darken, and the words "Game Over" burn into the screen. Why is this funny, you ask? Because these "Game Over" scenes usually pop up after you've done something that barely qualifies as dramatic, like putting your foot in your mouth during a conversation. Kyle's over-the-top reactions seem ridiculously silly in such cases.

Kyle and his daily cup of joe

The in-game cafe's coffee obsession--My second-favorite component of Last Window, after its predictably sublime soundtrack (see below for more on that), is its head-scratch-worthy obsession with coffee. Kyle regularly visits Lucky’s Cafe, which is conveniently situated on the ground floor of the Cape West apartment complex he calls home. On several occasions, he actually parks his butt in a booth and orders something to eat and drink from proprietor Sidney or his daughter, Claire. This is when you're hit with a charmingly fetishistic description of how the cup of coffee that eventually comes out of the kitchen was sourced, prepared, and savored. It's weird, not to mention a bit unrealistic (Lucky's is an aw-shucks diner set in 1980), but it's also pretty cute.

The lounge-y, jazzy soundtrack--Just like its predecessor, Last Window is crammed full of laid-back tunes that set the perfect mood for a week, or at least a few hours, of sleuthing. It also serves as a fitting accompaniment to the game's chill aesthetic, setting, and overall vibe. Actually, the same qualities that make the Last Window OST a joy to listen to while playing the game make it a joy to listen to when you're done with the game, too. In fact, I often put it on while I'm working, reading, or simply looking to relax and wind down for the day.

No, this is not supposed to be an example of Last Window's Christmas setting

The Christmas setting--Yep, Last Window takes place around Christmas. It begins right before that holiday and ends just after it. The game hardly shoves that fact down your throat, but there's enough evidence to it lying around to make it obvious. As a total sucker for (almost) all things Christmas, I appreciated the subtle shout-outs while working my way through this point-and-click adventure.

The intriguing mystery--Oh, right! The story. How could I forget about that? Well, although I wouldn't say Last Window's story is as captivating as the one that drives its predecessor, I would say it more than does the trick. And I'd make a similar statement about this sequel's cast of characters. They're not as colorful, interesting, or mysterious as their Hotel Dusk counterparts, in my humble opinion, but they're also not complete duds. My favorite of the bunch: the stuffy stick-in-the-mud landlady named Mags.

Do I consider any aspect of Last Window to be a dud? Not really, though I did encounter the occasional puzzle I couldn't solve without assistance. That's par for the course with me and this kind of game, though, so I won't hold it against this one.

See also: a somewhat gay review of Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~ (3DS)

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