Murder Most Found
I spy, with my little eye, the latest addition to Crisp App Studio’s repertoire of hidden object games. In what might be their most polished entry to date, Mystery Hotel promises intrigue, atmosphere, and challenging levels to boot. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t take a keen eye to see that these lofty promises fall somewhat flat.
The story opens on the protagonist riding a train on their way to the secluded and oh-so-evocatively-named Hotel Noir “hidden in the highlands of Western Europe.” Your grandmother has chosen this specific hotel to meet you as she has imperative news to reveal about “the family treasure.” You arrive at the hotel, embrace your grandmother, and barely exchange a few words with her before she adjourns to her room, and is summarily found dead moments later.
Something smells fishy, and it’s not just the dead old lady smell. No, there’s a mystery afoot! A mystery in a hotel. Who would’ve guessed! Unfortunately, if you’re expecting to rack your brain and tap into your inner Holmes, be prepared for disappointment.
Sparse Suspects Totally Trivialize
Thanks to the game page’s advertisement of the “trust no one” narrative, coupled with the fact that there are a grand total of three NPCs to interact with–with only one actively helping you–it comes as no mystery at all when the murderer has their grand reveal in the third act. The only red herring to the contrary being the classic–and profoundly problematic–”sketchy foreigner” trope.
That being said, however, you might still find something to enjoy in Mystery Hotel if plot isn’t the end all and be all for you. As far as aesthetics go, Mystery Hotel manages to strike a perfect balance between minimalist and picturesque. The devs have drawn the scenery and levels themselves in a lovingly-detailed and exceptionally pretty manner. While the menus, title screen, and hotel map are very Zen in their selective sparseness. The soothing music further enhances this relaxing effect, as one should expect from a hidden object-style game. All these aesthetic choices invoke the calming intrigue you would feel flipping through the clustered, yet lonely landscapes of I SPY books as a child.
It is on that note, though, that I must bring up my biggest disappointment with the game. It made my inner child sad from how just plain lazy the hidden object levels are in conception. Every level was just pictures of random objects pasted on top of places they didn’t belong. As opposed to aesthetically-similar objects blending into the background. To put it succinctly, I came in expecting I SPY, but what I got was Highlights Magazine. The levels, of which there were 15, each replayed thrice–were literally child’s play, and the game took barely an hour to complete in its entirety.
While I’ve made it abundantly clear this game isn’t for me, if you’re the type who’s looking for a chance to just turn your brain off and look for a turtle, this might be just the thing for you. Ultimately, Mystery Hotel lacks the scope of the caliber of game it passes itself off as. With its lazily-conceived level design and paint-by-numbers attempt at a mystery narrative, Mystery Hotel is nothing to write home to grandma about.
Is it Hardcore?
The Definition of Casual.
Though the promise of mystery lands with a thud, Mystery Hotel is a quaint little distraction for the thumbs. Perfectly suited for the faint of heart.