Hotel R’n’R might not be a horror game, but you can quickly identify the twisted fingerprints of developer Wolf & Wood.
They can be found all over this darkly comic VR smash ’em up. They’re there when you break through glass with your hands, messily contorting them into unusable bloody stumps. Or when you hit the shop and peruse isles that include severed heads and bowling balls still attached to arms. More importantly, though, Hotel R’n’R suggests Wolf & Wood has new tricks up its sleeve beyond horror hits like The Exorcist VR.
This is a technically impressive and inexplicably addictive bit of VR chaos. Playing as a failed musician, you make a deal with the devil. In return for fortune and glory, you have to smash up hotel rooms using pretty much whatever you find around you. In the first level that I’ve played, that means hurling plates into a ceiling fan, pulling a toilet seat off of its hinges and embedding it in a boiler, or tossing fruit into picture frames until they topple to the ground.
Making a mess earns you cash spent on new weapons. You’ll quickly gain access to a pair of boxing gloves for protected punching, for example. An early highlight is a slippery and surprisingly sturdy fish you can use to clear out glass or swipe entire cutlery sets from table tops.
We’ve seen other developers try their hand at this sort of havoc, of course. The results are often initially entertaining, but the charm quickly wanes. Wolf & Wood hopes to avoid that by rewarding repeated playthroughs with increasingly entertaining weapons and, crucially, a touch of challenge. Hotel R’n’R isn’t a simple sandbox; you’ll have to raise a certain amount of cash in a certain amount of time and complete specific tasks to unlock later levels.
How long do you have? That depends. In the first level, your destruction quickly triggers a checkup from a maid. You can keep her locked out by running to the door when she arrives or, more sadistically, give her a knock to the head when she opens it. Following that, the manager will turn up and you can do the same to him. Finally, security appears, and they don’t knock.
While chastising hotel staff is worrisomely enjoyable, it comes with a cost. Violent actions and getting caught racks up lawyer bills, while injuring yourself or straight up dying incurs hospital costs. For the best score, you need to cause as much mayhem as possible without seriously damaging yourself or getting caught. Swiftly exiting the room when no one’s there can earn you Infamy, used to unlock later levels. This is a game about keeping the plates spinning by, well, smashing plates.
And how those plates will smash. Even in its current state, Hotel R’n’R is a fascinating technical showcase for VR. Practically everything within a level can be picked up, thrown and destroyed. Better yet, some weapons change item’s properties, making them slippery, extra bouncy or even stuck to surfaces.
Right now, Hotel R’n’R feels a few weeks of polish away from ‘finished’ (fortunate, given the game launches in Early Access at the end of August). Some of the items don’t give satisfactory feedback when ‘breaking’ and, inevitably, there’s some physics-based bugs. It also remains to be seen how much longevity the game’s really going to have; five levels are promised in total, with each more elaborate than the last. The second, for example, lets you toss items off a balcony and into a pool.
Also promising are the minigames, which can be used to gain more Infamy and safe codes to unlock more stuff in existing levels. Wolf & Wood certainly has a welcome sense of structure here, it’s just a question of how long this type of game can be kept from growing stale.