Which doesn't mean that isn't necessarily "good," or that doesn't mean that Hotel Dusk is incapable of pulling players into its story; indeed, the art is superb, and I think that any amount of interaction makes any story seem more visceral. Kyle, the main character, is us, after all.
But that it can do so much with so little is really the big problem with Hotel Dusk. Hotel Dusk reminds me a lot of Farenheit, which I played on the Xbox. Taken as either a game or a story, it leaned too heavily on cliches from both formats. Yet, it was still - like Hotel Dusk - admittedly fun. Why? Because finally I am the one (mostly) pulling the strings.
I'm more inclined to support The Onion's negative review, because Hotel Dusk is really a wasted opportunity. Yes, yes, games should be fun, and there will always be a place for Mario & Luigi-like simple stories (which I am totally digging on the GBA), or ripoffs of existing genres. But I think we need to start being harder on games that aspire to greatness, particularly in storytelling, as Hotel Dusk does. We do not need antoher Sam Spade story. We need an LA Confidential or Maltese Falcon video game, something that, yes, nods to the genre, but also brings it to another level. (Hell, just one of these games would make me happy.) It's not impossible (Deus Ex comes immediately to mind). Allowing games to use interaction as a crutch to support a weak story rather than a ladder to elevate it to a whole new media form is ultimately doing ourselves - and the games' designers - a disservice.