Part tower defence game, part procedural music generator, Bad Hotel resembles nothing so much as an art deco architect’s fever dream with its crisply elegant geometric shapes and gaudy pastel shades. At times, it’s a rather haphazard construction, unbalanced and ready to topple over at any second, but it feels quite unlike anything else on the App Store. If nothing else, it’s worth downloading for the pleasure of having one of the most stylish iOS icons we’ve ever seen on a home screen.
Your task is to protect a large central building from the minions of a malevolent rival hotelier by placing square rooms around it. The basic rooms offer a fairly weak defensive barrier but double as money generators, earning rent for you to spend on offensive options such as turrets, freeze rays and cannons that shoot spiked mines. Another room gradually heals any buildings crumbling under the relentless assault from the bizarre collection of creatures sent to demolish them. Meanwhile, each new room adds extra beats and tones to the soundtrack, creating a percussive soundscape whose insistent thuds and chimes prove oddly unsettling, not least during the phases where the barrage gets more intense.
Survive a stage and you’re awarded a score based on a variety of parameters, such as the height of your stack, the number of rooms and the total profit earned, but it’s clear Lucky Frame has no interest in rewarding good performances with stars or medals, nor in punishing lucky escapes with a lower ranking. Similarly, there are no tutorials, hints or clues; each new room type arrives with nothing more than a brief description and a tacit encouragement to experiment. Messy but oddly mesmeric, Bad Hotel is perhaps more successful as a curious plaything than a game, but it’s no less essential for that.