Games Convention Special
Dead Mountaineer's Hotel
(a.k.a. Hotel At a Lost Climbers)
Developer: Electronic Paradise
A preview by MaryScots 16th September 2006
The worlds hottest adventure market is Germany at least thats what our colleagues of Adventure Gamers said a while ago and with a slightly envious undertone, too. ;-) Well, what can I say? Theyre right! Not only do we have some very talented developers over here but meanwhile also quite a number of publishers, who are willing to take the (yet) risk to release adventure games and to stand up to those genres more suitable for the mass-market in order to give us, what we want: adventures, adventures, adventures.
Its striking, however, that there is another European country that does see a lot of very interesting adventure game releases, which unfortunately and I keep asking myself Hell, why? next to never make it out of their country of birth, namely Russia. At the Games Convention, Russian publisher Akella gave me the chance to take a closer look at one of these adventures, which does seem very promising indeed: Dead Mountaineers Hotel by Electronic Paradise.
First and foremost, the secret and the essence of a good adventure game is and will always be the story, which is what the Russians have plenty of. In this case, too, a novel Hotel At a Lost Climbers (as translated from German/Russian(?) aka Inspector Glebskys Puzzle) by the Strugatsky brothers - was the inspiration for Dead Mountaineers Hotel. The point & click game stays as true to the original story as needed, although fitted with a clever gameplay it shall have some surprises in store even for those, who know the book.
We will play the part of police inspector Glebsky, who only wants to spend a quiet holiday in the snow at the remote mountain lodge. Of course, nothing comes out as planned. Aside from the inspector, we will meet 14 characters in this 3rd person mystery including the other guests, the staff and even the clever Saint Bernhard, Lel, that sheds hair permanently and everywhere, isnt missing. Each of the characters has its own individual quirks and secrets and nothing is as it seems to be. But the most peculiar thing is that a mountaineer, who died in an accident quite some time ago, appears to be haunting the hotel. The owner asks Glebski to take a look at the dead mans room and what the inspector discovers there is rather weird indeed: a cigarette is smouldering in an ashtray, the current issue of a newspaper is lying on a table and the boots in front of the bed have definitely been worn recently and all this despite the room having been locked up all the time!
I had a lot of fun examining everything, while the beautifully detailed 2D backgrounds, (there will be approx. 120 of them in the game), the fresh dialogues and the well animated 3D characters were positively striking. Whoever gets the impression that this is all about a Russian version of an Agatha Christie adventure is right to some extent but here comes the kick. Everything happens in real-time. This means that not only will we have to solve typical adventure game puzzles, spiced by a few mini-games (most of which are related to winter, as Irina of Akella teased), but it is very important what we do and when or how we address the others and behave towards them.
Moreover, the characters wont stay in place like sacrificial lambs waiting for us they will move around the place a feast for every fan of a non-linear storyline. If you happen to feel reminded of The Last Express you have a point here. :-) What I could see of the puzzles did look very interactive. Its not always enough to use an item with an object in order to be rewarded by a cut-scene showing us the result you will have to apply a little more logic. By the way, the developers even provide some re-playability value (which does compensate for the eventuality that an estimated playing time 15 hours might sound a little short somehow) as Dead Mountaineers Hotel will have three different endings. The course for this is set when the first body has been discovered. One of the endings will be the one from the novel we certainly wont give away anything else, though.
Now, theres not much left do in adventure paradise Germany but to hope that Dead Mountaineers Hotel will find its way here. Akella is already working on this and in case we are lucky the game shall also receive a fine localisation. :-)