Hotel R’n’R is a game where you smash up hotel rooms in service to the devil. You play as a failed musician that makes a desperate deal with Satan himself. If you rely on your fists too much, your hands will be pulverized into a deformed mess as bones start to break and blood starts to flow. Pretty twisted, no?
Actually, for developer Wolf & Wood, this is all remarkably light territory. “It’s a fun game,” says creative director Ryan Bousfield, “but you’re still doing it for the devil.”
Hotel R’n’R is the developer’s first VR game that isn’t a straight-up scare-fest. Wolf & Wood has become known for its tense, intelligent psychological horrors such as A Chair in a Room and The Exorcist: Legion VR. These are some of VR’s most terrifying games, but this is a chance for the developer to stretch its legs a little.
“It was a natural move,” Bousfield tells me over the phone. “Two horror titles back-to-back, by the end of the last one you feel like you’re running on the final bits.” After finishing up on The Exorcist, Wolf & Wood was looking for a way to recharge. It found its answer in an unlikely place.
“It’s all linked to watching people testing A Chair in a Room: Greenwater, back in the early days,” Bousfield says of the game’s origins. “Just watching people go into that initial room or the patient’s cell and then just start picking up balls and smashing them and throwing them about.” He recalls putting in breakable objects in the game, and how people engaged with it as they put on their Vives for the first time. Though it was supplementary to the larger horror game, it struck a chord with Bousfield.
Those observations gave birth to this frantic smash ’em up. You’ll tour hotels around the world and have to come up with inventive ways of tearing them to shreds. As you cause carnage hotel staff will try and barge in. You can stop them by barricading the door or pushing back. Eventually, when you’re time’s up, the police will come knocking.
By the looks of it, the game wants to be a physics funhouse. Bousfield is eager to talk about all the weird tools and power-ups you’ll be able to grab. A glue gun will let you stick objects together or to the environment (including, Bosfield teases, a ceiling fan). Power-ups, meanwhile, will augment the experience in trippy ways. You can attach a bouncy material to any object to make it spring off of every wall in the room. Bousfield even says that’s something similar to Far Cry 5’s ‘Oregano’ in there. The list goes on: a revolver has chaotic ricochet bullets, a spiked bat causes real damage and, yes, that is a fish you see in the images.
“I’ve been describing it as gonzo. There’s a lot of references to things like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” the developer adds. “The devil, he’s got pointy teeth, he can look scary, but he’s also got short-shorts on. It’s about having a bit of fun with the things we’ve been quiet serious about for the past four or five years.”
Bousfield is aware that this might all sound a little too light. There’s plenty of chaotic VR games out there, but many are only fun for a few rounds before they’re forgotten. Hotel R’n’R is hoping a mix of progression and variety will give it the sticking power of a game like Gorn. You’ll earn cash to buy new weapons, starting off with weaker objects (foam fingers) and building up to more destructive tools. Minigames based on the seven deadly sins will also change up the gameplay from time to time.
Hotel R’n’R is due to hit Early Access on Steam later this year with support for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Bousfield says much of the single-player campaign will be present in the initial release. “We’re doing the things that we feel a bit more comfortable with initially. We’ve got narrative elements in there, a single-player game, progress right through five hotels. And we’ve got minigames and other elements.”
As for the future? Wolf & Wood says it will have a clear roadmap that’s influenced by the community. “I don’t want it to stay in Early Access forever,” Bousfield reassures.
Whatever comes of Hotel R’n’R, it definitely sounds like it’s given Bousfield a chance to recharge. “Ironically I’ve written like three ideas for new horror games in the time that we’ve been working on this one,” he says. “So I’ve actually probably written more horror in that last six months than I did in the months prior to that.”
Look out for more on Hotel R’n’R later in the year.