Bad Hotel – The Heartbreak Hotel

About a week ago, my friend stayed round mine. He was looking through my Steam Library and asked what “Bad Hotel” was. I told him that it had come through a Humble Bundle and I hadn’t had a chance to play it yet. Out of curiosity, I decided to look up the Steam Store Page and see what it was about.

BH13 - Steam Page 01

I was shocked to see the game had received “Mostly Negative” reviews and decided I would have to check it out immediately. Hence this week’s review is Bad Hotel.

BH01 - Title 01

Bad Hotel is another mobile ported game.It features the classic mobile interface of big, blobby buttons and has a sleek, minimalist aesthetic.

The game is essentially a Tower Defence game in the most literal sense; you are building a tower and defending it from swarms of attackers. Each level starts you off with a number of different rooms you can build and sets prices to them for the particularly stage you are on. You then drag these rooms onto your tower to construct them. They can join to any other room already assembled and defy all physics. This was clearly designs for click play with the mobile devices but works reasonably well with a mouse.

BH02 - Tutorial 01

That is essentially the game. You have to construct your hotel in such a way to protect your hotel’s lobby and survive to the end of the timer. There are five stages, each with a distinct art style and unique music and the difficulty increases, as you might expect.

The art direction of the game is really cool and I think it really gives the game a nice character. All the enemies are cutesy little animals or… clouds… armed with bombs or missiles and it really gives the game a nice vibe.

The meter along the top of the screen lets you know when new waves are approaching and gives you an idea of how you are progressing and how much more of the onslaught you must endure before victory.

BH12 - Gameplay 06

Now, this may all sound like another, boring, positive review is ensuing but as the title states, heartbreak is to ensue. This game disappointed me so much…
This game has so much potential and I feel it squanders it in favour of creating artificial longevity. It is a brutally hard game. The tutorial is reasonable and introduces the gameplay and concepts well; you feel pretty good after you beat the first boss. Unfortunately, it creates an unrealistic expectation of what follows. The difficulty ramps up so quickly and gives you such little warning that it is easy to become disillusioned.
All five of the stages are available at the start of the game so even if you get stuck, you can skip to the next level. Despite this, I felt that I was cheating by not completing the previous stage, not to mention the fact that the difficulty doesn’t let up so you feel like you are only jumping into deeper waters.

BH10 - Fail 01

The game has a really cool feature in the way the sound is designed. The main lobby of your hotel acts as a signal pulse. Each room which you build onto the Lobby becomes a musical node with it’s own unique notes. As you build out further, you can create musical sequences as the signal radiates through each room and activates the ability of that room. It looks fantastic seeing this pulse moving through each room and it can create some really interesting background music, if you last long enough to hear it.
It is worth noting that each stage of the game has a unique art style as well as a unique music genre, giving you a little more incentive to try and complete each world.

BH11 - Gameplay 05

I didn’t want to give this game a harsh review. I really tried to let it convince me it wasn’t a bad game, but it is just so hard to appreciate. There is no incentive to try and get better scores in the previous levels and there is no way to optimise your strategies. Each level seems to be restricted to a single solution and this really makes the levels feel very limiting; yes, it is more puzzle like, but the game is so quick to throw failure your way, you soon get sick of wanting to try and discover the right combination of pieces.
The boss fights at the end of each stage are brutal. The first one is a nice standard, space-invader-esque battle and you feel satisfied when you manage to defeat it. The second boss ramps up to an instant kill if you leave any opening in your initial defence. Yaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy……
The strangest paradox I found in the game was the incentive to build an actual tower. The game seems to glorify the idea of building your hotel vertically and features a number of achievements for building in such a fashion. The strange thing is that the game works on the idea that if a room is destroyed, all attached rooms furthest away from you lobby fall off and are immediately destroyed. I found the “best” strategy was to build out horizontally and create a wall of rooms around your lobby.

BH08 - Boss 01Overall, Bad Hotel just broke my heart. It offered so many positive ideas and did nothing with them. It made me feel stupid and I was wasting my time by even trying to succeed. It presented high scores but did nothing with them and offered so many opportunities to mix up gameplay, but didn’t.

I would like to recommend Bad Hotel, just to see the opportunities missed for yourself, but I can’t. It isn’t worth the money; it is such a shame, but I couldn’t possibly tell people to check it out. Maybe if it is already in your steam library, you should give it a look… Otherwise, this one is a miss.

Ellen captured these screenshots all by herself. The images depicted were created by Lucky Frame and part of their game which Ellen wasn’t keen on. She tried to like it… Honestly, she really tried…

Last played, but not completed on 10/06/15 through Steam.

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