Hotel Renovator Review
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Job simulation games have boomed in popularity in recent years. The genre has turned the repetition of mundane actions into a calming and cathartic experience. It can even become strangely addictive to do every job with exact precision as you strive for perfection, and before you know it, you've spent hours on a single task. Hotel Renovator is a first-person simulator where you makeover a hotel by fixing, cleaning and decorating.
The game has a simple premise: you've inherited a decrepit hotel from your late grandfather, and with the help of your assistant, you begin a journey to revitilize the hotel and turn it into a flourishing business to earn a prestigious five-star rating. However, you've got a long way to go before you get any dazzling reviews on TripAdvisor, as every room in the hotel is an outright mess and looks like it could belong to a trap house.
Transforming a room is a reasonably straightforward process with three main steps: reconstruction, cleaning and designing. The first stage is sorting through the room, destroying unwanted items, and selling anything that still seems intact. After this, it's time to get your metaphysical constructors hat on and start smashing the ceiling, walls, and floors with the crowbar to make the surfaces even. The next part is removing the mess left behind from the destruction by sweeping with the broom.
The last and most engaging step is designing the room. This ranges from giving the walls a new lick of paint or retiling the bathroom, to decking out the floors with stylish carpets or wooden panel floorboards. Once you're done decorating, it's time to practice the ultimate feng shui by adding the last personal touches to the room in the form of furniture. This includes the basics you would expect to find in a hotel room, like lights, bath facilities, and a bed. But you can also add some downright funky stuff, like balloon archways, disco balls and even a hay bale. There are hundreds of options available when it comes to decorating and furnishing that will easily ignite your creative side.
Compared to other job simulators, I didn't find this process as addictive or captivating. This boils down to the fact you only ever renovate one hotel, and all the living quarters are somewhat structured the same and presented in a similar rathole-looking fashion. It just doesn't feel like much of a transformation after you've done a certain amount of rooms. I even found my attention span slipping away when reconstructing, as you're invariably bashing on the same-looking walls again and again; it's tiresome.
What also doesn't help this process is every time you interact with a surface, whether it's knocking on the walls or painting, you can only highlight a specific number of tiles at one given time. Presumably, the developers went down this avenue so that you can design the room to the smallest detail, but it makes every step of the process much slower than needed. Another complaint is that the preview thumbnail of the floor and wall materials sometimes don't match up with what gets put onto the surface. It took me nearly five minutes to find the shade of paint I was looking for on one occasion because the preview icon colour kept deceiving me, which was mildly frustrating.
Throughout the game, a series of random events will occur, which will ask you to halt your decorating. These jobs range from fixing the electricity by heading to the hotel's basement or playing a dice game with a chicken. Yes, you did read that correctly. These tasks should serve as a nice break but instead occur far too frequently, making you want to put a do not disturb sign on the door when you're converting a room.
There are two modes to play the game in; story or sandbox. Both have a tutorial that is easy to follow and teaches you the basics well. Sandbox mode offers a variety of options that can be used to personalise your experience, like changing the price of expenses for decorating or the amount of income generated from a room. This is the mode you should opt for if you want to design your dream hotel at a slow, methodical pace. Story mode has far more structured in comparison, as guests will have specific requests, like a bachelorette party asking for neon decorations and a mini fridge to be placed in their room. I much preferred playing in story mode, as there was a goal in mind when building the rooms, which helped re-engage my attention.
While progressing through the story mode, you will have the opportunity to unlock skills. These skills can aid you in transforming rooms far more quickly. For instance, you can replace the broom used for cleaning with a vacuum or exchange the crowbar for a sledgehammer. But you can also unlock other skills to help your hotel, like running a social media campaign to boost room prices.
One of the odd things about Hotel Renovator is the absence of noise. There is no background music, no matter what game mode you select. There are sounds for actions and even voice acting, but no music is in the gameplay. This inadvertently creates a strange atmosphere around the hotel. At one point, I was expecting a jump scare to come around the corner; it was that quiet. With job simulator games, you can sometimes fall into the habit of putting on your own background noise, but the fact that there is no music at all is a big thumbs down.
Playing via keyboard/mouse, you won't have much of an issue navigating through the hotel or using the menu wheel, which is how you switch between actions like painting or removing waste. But it's a different story if you are playing on a controller, as functionality is very limited at launch. It can sometimes be slow and even sluggish to navigate through the wheel. If you are deadset on playing with a controller, you can make it work as it's bearable but expect to use the mouse occasionally.
It might sound like I've dunked on Hotel Renovator quite a bit, but it's only because the game had the potential to stand next to some of the heavyweights in the genre, like House Flipper, as the core concept of upscaling a hotel is appealing. Hotel Renovator feels like it was released way too prematurely and should have been left in the oven to cook longer. If the developers continue releasing updates, I think the game could be one to watch, but I won't be booking a return visit anytime soon.