I’ve found that, when starting a new project, it’s always good to start small. However, it’s also just a little bit embarrassing to start this series out by admitting I had never managed to finish up a game that takes less than two hours, end to end. So I guess I started very small indeed.
And here was the major problem for me. The last time I attempted to play Rusty Lake Hotel, I could not make the game save, no matter what I did. As a result, I ended up playing through the first couple of days multiple times, and never getting further along than that. This time, I went in with the intention of completing it in a single sitting if it still wouldn’t save for me.
Thankfully, somewhere in the interim, either the game got fixed up, or I got smarter, because it autosaved without issue.
Rusty Lake Hotel is a short, almost minimalistic point-and-click adventure puzzler. It’s also outrageously dark. You have been tasked with collecting the ingredients for dinner every night, and without giving away too much, that’s not as innocent of a task as you might expect. If you’re put off by cartoon gore in your adventure games, you should probably give this one a pass.
The focus is almost entirely on problem solving, and in order to find the problems, expect to click on absolutely everything you can click on. There is minimal dialogue, and the majority of the story is environmental. Each meal will require one mandatory and two optional ingredients. If you miss something – and it’s easy to miss something – you can proceed serving less than perfect dinners, or you can reset the entirety of the game. I would have liked the option to go back a single day at any given time, but even a complete restart isn’t too punishing due to the game’s length. Once you understand what you’re meant to do, each section of the game probably takes 10 minutes or less to complete.
There were a couple of puzzles that – at least for me – were really challenging even once I understood the idea of the thing. There is no in-game hint system, and once you enter a room at night, you cannot leave until you’ve gotten the required item. That said, for the truly stumped, a walkthrough isn’t difficult to find, and having to consult one a few times didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the game.
I’m not entirely sure where Rusty Lake Hotel fits into the greater Cube Escape / Rusty Lake universe. If it turns out they cannot really be played in any order, then I’ll likely have spoiled something for myself because I’ve been, over time, collecting all the paid titles in the series.
It took me just under two hours to complete the game with all stars, including a couple of resets when I realized I had missed an ingredient. I managed to only miss a single achievement. As someone who enjoys a good puzzler now and again, I found the entire experience to be very satisfying, and I’m glad to have revisited Rusty Lake Hotel and played through to completion.
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