Propagation: Paradise Hotel is a thrilling, terror-filled VR game with a classic horror storyline and satisfying mechanics.
Propagation: Paradise Hotel is a new game from Wanadev, the maker of the Viking rhythm game Ragnarock. It’s based on a popular and free PC VR demo called Propagation that launched in 2020.
The fighting mechanics and heavy, oppressive atmosphere are similar, but Propagation: Paradise Hotel has a storyline and goes much further than the original to make this an intriguing addition to any VR horror library.
- Developer: WanadevStudio
- Publisher: WanadevStudio
- Release Date: May 4, 2023
A mysterious disease has struck the Paradise Hotel, turning most of its inhabitants into a collection of mutated monsters and carnivorous undead. Like any good zombie trope, the disease is highly contagious and can spread quickly even through a scratch. The game begins a few weeks after the infection, and you play as Emily Diaz, one of the few survivors. Luckily, you’re also accompanied by fellow survivor Owen, a cop who has a gun for some limited protection.
By barricading yourself in the hotel’s kitchen, you might be safe from the start, but with running out of supplies and a horde of undead on your doorstep, things start to look dire. To make matters worse, your sister is also locked in a hotel. After the transmission confirms that she is alive somewhere on the seventh floor, you decide to leave your makeshift shelter to embark on a dangerous rescue mission.
Fans of the classic survival horror series Resident Evil will immediately feel right at home with the mechanics of Propagation: Paradise Hotel. On the menu, you have an inventory system, a journal to track targets, a place to store important written notes, and a map that automatically populates with each area you discover. You should always be equipped with medical spray, a flashlight, and whatever weapon you have.
Supplies are available in easy and normal modes if you want to look for them, but ammo can be made more limited by switching to hard mode, which also increases the speed of enemies. For the most hardcore gamers, there’s Nightmare Mode, which increases the speed of enemies and removes the ammo counter and autosave feature.
The game gets harder as you progress, and the combat is mostly balanced. Enemies are surprisingly fast, but not overly strong, and can be defeated if you aim well and use the dash mechanic at the right time. The exception is near the end, when it’s best to just run away from some of the stronger creatures.
In terms of weapons, at the beginning of the game, players have a pistol, and later a shotgun will appear. Despite the limited choice of weapons, it looks realistic, has authentic reloading and shooting mechanics, which makes it very convenient to handle and shoot. It’s especially fun to use the shotgun to take the zombie’s head off and then pull the moving part of the forearm back to eject the spent cartridge case.
When it comes to fear, Propagation: Paradise Hotel goes above and beyond. A mixture of psychological horror, blood and jump scare is used to create a powerful cocktail of fear and terror that leaves you balancing nervously on the edge of your seat.
Decaying bodies and debris scattered around the hotel convey the chaos that prevailed in this place, and create a completely unsettling atmosphere. The low light means you’ll often have to rely on your flashlight’s narrow beam of light, which can be used very sparingly given the limited battery life. Sound is used to an equally unsettling effect, with creaks, groans and inhuman noises coming from all directions. There’s also an ambient horror soundtrack, as well as distorted high fiddle at key moments to heighten the tension.
The main story serves as the backbone of the game, but nothing more. The biographies of the characters are not disclosed, and it is even difficult to remember the details about the main character Emily, except for her motivation to find her sister. On a broader level, there are no unexpected events or twists in the plot – certainly nothing that could surprise or interest me.
The game also ends rather abruptly after about four hours of play with the promise of a second part but without any conclusion to the main story. As a result, after the end of the game, the feeling of deception does not leave. A few extra hours of gameplay that would allow the game to come to a more definitive conclusion would be welcome.
The standard horror story is also punctuated by rather strained dialogue and sloppy voice acting. At times it looks good, and at other times it becomes an unintended comic effect and completely spoils the immersion in the game. While searching an area infested with zombies, Emily will sometimes say a few phrases out loud without a hint of fear or concern in her voice. The discrepancy between the terrifying situation and her laid-back tone sometimes relieved the play’s carefully crafted tension.
Propagation: Paradise Hotel shows just how powerful VR horror can be if done right. It conveys the claustrophobic and oppressive feeling of being trapped in a building filled with monsters straight out of your worst nightmares. Slowly making your way through a dark, creaky hotel, pursued by its creepy inhabitants, is an exceptionally scary and frightening sight. The game is shorter while still leaving the main plot largely unresolved, with some of the dialogue left something to be desired. However, it still remains one of the best VR horror games of 2023.
- Horror atmosphere
- Good graphics
- Smooth control
- Weak plot
- Not enough interactivity for VR