Game Reviews

Bad Hotel

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| Bad Hotel
Bad Hotel
| Bad Hotel

If there's one genre in desperate need of a revamp, it's tower defence. Guarding a castle from waves of baddies has become as stale as month-old bread, and each new game can feel like the same thing over and over again.

Enter Bad Hotel: one part tower defence, one part generative music toy, and with a little bit of skyscraper construction thrown in for good measure.

In gameplay terms, it's very much a typical tower defence game. You're given a small hotel to defend, and before long an onslaught of pigeons, kamikaze snakes, and yetis will descend in waves, hell bent on wrecking your bed and breakfast.

You fend them off by attaching rooms to your hotel. there are gun turrets, cannons that shoot mines, mortars that spew blocks of ice, rooms that heal, and rooms that make you money.

Hotel California

But here's the twist: everything you do makes music, so every room adds a new layer to the game's song, and every bullet puts offbeat notes into your ever-changing orchestra.

It offers a clear indication of how well you're doing. As you add more rooms the song soars into a complex opera of beats and snares. If your defences crumble at the hands of a bomb-carrying pigeon, the backing track quickly goes flat.

Your songs are rarely chart-topping material. Your monstrous tower usually produces a repetitive din. But, then again, that quirky jazz-like groove is all yours, organically made to suit your tower. There's something gratifying about that cacophony.

Heartbreak Hotel

Behind the music, Bad Hotel is a surprisingly sharp game. It dramatically changes its tactics from level to level, perhaps stripping you of offensive weapons, or dropping a devastating crab monster into the fray.

It's also rather hard, but if you're constantly hitting the Game Over screen then take that as a message that your tactics are crap. Bad Hotel never lets you get away with using the same safe strategy over and over, which also stops it feeling samey.

There are some quibbles. The game does adhere to some physics (if the foundations of a tower are destroyed, all the blocks above will fall with it) but because there's no grid you can easily place towers in unsafe locations.

But Bad Hotel is something special. It's brimming with style - from its bold art-deco visuals to the humorous dialogue of comedy villain Tarnation Tadstock - it's lovingly crafted, and the challenge is perfectly tuned.

If you'd written off tower defence games, Lucky Frame makes a compelling argument for their comeback.

Bad Hotel

With its clever gimmick, smart design, and charming sense of style, Bad Hotel is a fine addition to the tower defence genre