PEGBRJE: Hotel Paradise and Order A Pizza

Huh?

Wait wasn’t I… hold on.

Hotel Paradise is a ‘puzzle’ and aesthetically ‘relaxing’ journey created by Kai Clavier, an indie developer based out of Canada. Players are weary travellers that have stumbled upon a hotel late at night, given a key and told to find their rooms so they can sleep away the troubles. Except, well, where exactly is the room?

To those familiar with the smalltown motel experience, Hotel Paradise gives a fantastic feeling of the absurdity of the layouts. Everything feels as if it is in a simple column/row setup, yet every turn seems to cause the room number sequences to be randomized and give a bizarre answer. Go down a hallway in the 300s, and find out that the hallways connecting to it are a 700 series and another in the 100s. Sure from a topdown view it would make sense, but no traveller gets that experience; and when it comes to the exhaustion from travelling, the entire hotel layout can feel dogged. Thing is, hilariously enough, we as players aren’t really tired, so to recreate that feeling the Hotel is legitimately confusing and nonsensically winding. There’s even a patch note for 1.1 that states that Rooms no longer have the possibility of never being found; which meant that at one point, players could be wandering for hours to the easy listening tunes to come up fruitless. I can confirm, however, that this doesn’t always feel like the case as my second attempt at the game had me wandering for hours (read: 15 minutes, but it definitely felt like hours) only to find nothing and quit in misery.

That first time, however, I did find my room, and it was definitely… well I’m not sure. The name should have given me an indicator of what was to come, but I never thought it would mean literally. When players find their room, a randomly generated space will be created just for them, a paradise that they have been hunting for and can now relax. Players can wander the confines of their room to their hearts content, satisfied that nobody else will ever see this room — except for me, I posted mine above for all to see. There’s nothing necessarily to do within this room, but at the end of a long journey who really needs to do anything but relax?

Hotel Paradise offers that exact feeling that you probably didn’t think you needed or wanted; the constant inability to find what you’re looking for in a maze that you swear is just created to mess with you. In this case, it has been, but the feeling cannot be denied, especially with the easy listening music playing along from speakers that aren’t loud enough to actively fill the space so you have small pockets of almost silence in some parts of the hallway. I wasn’t expecting this level of accuracy, but I appreciate it nonetheless. If you are missing that hotel feeling because of the pandemic, here’s a fantastic way of reminding yourself why you really don’t.

Wait. Hold On. What?

Order A Pizza: A Visual Novel is a… well, a visual novel created by Rocket Adrift Games, an indie studio based out of Canada. While originally created for the NanoReno Game Jam, it was then perfected in to what it is here; a simple affair about ordering a pizza as a divorced dad with his daughter and girlfriend.

If only it were that simple.

It starts off just as described, with the player asking questions of the two as they sit opposite each other in an uncomfortable silence. Abby as the daughter is relatively fed up with the scenario, while Margot is just trying to confidently meet with her boyfriend’s only child. Using the context clues of the apartment and a few prodding questions will hopefully give the player the best possible option to order the best kind of pizza that will ease the tension. Except, well, it doesn’t — in fact, while the outcome may vary depending on what pizza is created, the general issue remains the same as nothing seems to go right. Suddenly, the player is lamenting over this pizza, and finds themselves suddenly back to where they started; listening to his girlfriend and daughter awkwardly make smalltalk.

Yeah, this isn’t really what one would expect with a ‘visual novel’ but is more of a narrative that demands that players piece together what exactly they need to do in order to not ‘fail’ the pizza process and to progress the plot. Each conversation will warp depending on the ‘setting’ that the dad has found himself in, while slowly coming to grips with the amount of failures in his life that revolve around his choices. It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially when stuck in some terrifying loop that isn’t explained nor can be discussed with the others. There’s so many ways to fail that it almost seems better to simply accept the fact that there is no ‘winning’ and that there is no way out. Perhaps that’s for the best, but that isn’t up to me.

Order A Pizza takes you on a roller coaster of a trip through some bizarre emotional states, all in the name of a pizza. There’s truly only one ‘path’ to victory, but how you get there can be full of perils and failures nonetheless. If you enjoy visual novels that like to mess with your head visually and thematically, give this a whirl.