It's been a bumpy year for fans of the whodunit puzzler Hotel Dusk. First a sequel was announced in March, then there was speculation that we wouldn't be seeing it outside Japan, and finally a European release was set for September.
So it's a relief that Last Window: The Secret of Cape West is exactly the Hotel Dusk sequel we were hoping for.
Not a lot has changed in Kyle Hyde's mysterious world - he's still bumming around a hotel, looking for clues to help him solve his father's murder, which happened twenty-five years ago.
As luck would have it, everything he needs to discover the truth is right in that very building. Through getting to know the residents, breaking into disused storeys, and sweet-talking his landlord, Kyle manages to uncover the truth.
Window of opportunity
Fans of the original game will instantly feel at home with Last Window. Absolutely nothing has changed apart from the story - Kyle can be dragged around via the touchscreen, and a row of buttons at the bottom of the screen allow him to take a closer look at areas and objects.
It's not surprising that developer CING didn't mess with this aspect of the game, as Last Window is a joy to control.
The most significant difference is the puzzles. For the most part, there's nothing too taxing to solve and you'll breeze through, putting together jigsaws and unlocking fire doors.
But later on, certain set-pieces left us completely bewildered. The puzzles in Kyle's second outing lack the balance of the previous edition.
As if to counteract this, the story has far more direction in Last Window. We never once found ourselves stuck with no idea of where to head next, which was a issue that plagued the original game.
Kyle usually gives you hints about where you should be headed next, and in a sense it's as if you're following an interactive story, rather than playing a game.
Hyde and seek
The story is excellent. We spent the entire fifteen hours of play trying to work out who the bad guys were in this film noir-esque experience. The characters are genuinely sympathetic, and revelations come thick and fast.
Last Window suffers from one of the issues brought over from Hotel Dusk - insta-deaths. There are plenty of times during play that a seemingly innocent response during a conversation will end with a Game Over screen a minute later.
Fortunately, Last Window does a far better job than Hotel Dusk of auto-saving just before each important conversation, although we were still left frustrated a few times when we were made to tap our way through an entire conversation several times.
Ultimately, though, this is the Hotel Dusk 2 we've been pining for all these years. With some better puzzles included, we've have been singing its name from the rooftops, but there's still a perfectly solid and enjoyable puzzler to be found in Last Window.