Big Fish Game’s newest entry; Haunted Hotel III: Lonely Dream is a game that aims to engage players by challenging their minds while taking them on a journey filled with paranormal activity, mystery and a lot of puzzles. With this third entry, you take the role of FBI agent Sunday who, accompanied by chief detective Jack, sets out to uncover the mysteries surrounding the Lonely Dream Hotel, which has been discovered to be the resting place of an infamous cult’s secret weapon. While the game suffers from some lacklustre puzzle designs and jarring visuals, it manages to be a fun ride thanks to intelligent puzzles and a strong emphasis on the player’s commitment and knowledge of their surroundings within the game’s atmosphere.
Haunted Hotel III takes place entirely in the Lonely Dream Hotel. The various rooms and hallways you explore entirely with your cursor, are filled with items and essential interactive devices and objects that help progress the player forward. As a mysterious location that seemingly holds many secrets, it’s obvious that many of them will be held behind locked doors and hidden passageways. With this,
the game requires players to not only understand the tools they have but also to use their imagination in order to see how they would proceed further to the main objective. The items you gather primarily consist of every-day objects such as simple washing equipment, cutlery, broken pieces, and so on. Some of these items are also required to be combined, to form devices that will aid you in ways you might not expect. The items you find and the way you use them brings a distinct level of depth to item management and a solid amount of creativity to puzzles. Many of these puzzles involve finding a key to a locked door, finding an alternative root and repairing large mechanisms. It’s intriguing to learn how these items work to solve these problems and they help make them even more satisfying.
The game also provides the player with a sufficient amount of assistance, if they ever get stuck or if they don’t know what to do. For example, The hint system can be accessed in every room in the game and gives ideas and information to players on how to solve a problem they may find too complicated or could straight up give the solution right away. In addition, several, smaller puzzles are provided with a skip button which resolves the puzzle instantly.
The game’s difficulty is divided between Casual and Advanced mode. Advanced mode is ideally the mode target towards players looking for a bigger challenge. The mode primarily increases the time it takes for hints to load, along with other mechanics used to aid players. Unfortunately, the Advanced mode does very little to increase the game’s difficulty and while hints may be slightly less accessible, the idea of increasing their load times becomes pointless since players could still be given the same thing as in Casual mode, only after a longer period. This mode would have been much improved if it erased hints and skip options altogether and introduced entirely new puzzles and items that were harder and more difficult to manage.
The game’s story follows Agent Sunday and Detective Jack as they search the hotel for evidence that would lead them to the source of the hotel’s mysterious nature. Their journey is shown through cutscenes, which work to display their banter and reactions to what lies ahead. The game has not voice actors and instead chooses to use subtexts for the dialogue. While the story begins on a low point, with Jack explaining some crucial elements behind the mystery of the hotel, their journey slowly builds and becomes more interesting as they uncover more of what is happening before them. The characters of Sunday and Jack also become more relatable as time goes on as their relationship and conversations become more enjoyable to watch, even though it’s sometimes let down by some poor writing and dialogue.
While the game doesn’t have the best graphics on the market, the game manages to provide some beautiful scenery and touches to the setting. One room, for instance, is covered from floor to ceiling in vegetation, while another is filled with science fiction inspired machinery. Places like these manage to successfully convey a sense of wonder and originality to the setting and can help to immerse players in the mission at hand and could make them strive to advance forward. The only flaw with the atmosphere is that the tone can sometimes feel confusingly inconsistent. Being a haunted hotel, you will expect certain elements of horror and tension, which in the end devolve into clichés like shadows, second-long ghost sightings and light jump scares. While there are times when the tension does come through, such as a creepy voice echoing through a basement, it would then treat these occasions like bad jokes. The game will go back and forth between horror and comedy and it comes off as confusing and rather ineffective.
While most of the puzzles work well, there are a few that unfortunately lose their steam. These puzzles that appear throughout the entire game involve searching smaller, contained spaces, such as a locker or under a sofa, and finding a large set of items to use for your investigation. While they start out semi-intriguing, they never quite reach the level of the other puzzles. For the most part, they come off as tedious and frustrating, especially as they get progressively harder. Adding onto this, they don’t have any point to them, primarily since every item you pick up aside from the single, essential, item is not used at all. This will leave you thinking why you spend all this time searching for items that you’re not going to use.
In addition to these uninspiring puzzles, the game also suffers from a considerable overuse of integrated raster images, of real-world objects. These images can make the appearance between them and the level design severally jarring. This issue becomes even more apparent when examining smaller areas, in search of items in the puzzles previously mentioned. Some of these images even consist of still animals and flat flowers, lazily propped on top of other images. The vast number of these types of images overall do a disservice to some otherwise beautiful locations and could take players out of the game.
Haunted Hotel III: Lonely Dream struggles from inconsistent visuals and some uninspiring tasks, but it manages to stand as a solid and enjoyable experience. It contains a hefty number of well-crafted puzzles and some acceptable areas to explore, all combined with acceptable item management mechanics. This is a game that is worth the attention of players who are interested in puzzle-solving and adventure.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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