“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou
Homunculus Hotel is a visual novel set in a mysterious hotel that shows its guests surreal but poignant dreams. It is comprised of six stories, as told by different guests to the protagonist Isabelle who spends her days listening to their experiences.
Developer: Team SoleTude
Released: 3rd March 2022
This game is being reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective (IGC) showcase.
Gameplay and Narrative
As expected for a visual novel there is limited interactivity in Homunculus Hotel. Players click to progress the narration and conversations and get the occasional dialogue choice though it is unclear how much, if any, impact these choices have. There are also short sections where Isabelle sits at her desk at the end of the day, clicking on different objects will reveal something about them, a nice addition to elevate both the narrative and gameplay.
The titular Hotel is unique in its ability to make its guests see their dreams, fears and desires. Taking on the role of Isabelle players listen to the experiences and dreams of the different guests and try to help them understand themselves a bit better and fight the loneliness that consistently troubles all characters. In addition to this, the stories explore other themes such as isolation, romance, loss of loved ones and the loss of oneself. The game boasts an excellent narrative design and all of the emotional and personal stories are beautifully interwoven together and through exploring them the player also reveals Isabelle’s own story.
Homunculus Hotel and an impactful sketchy hand-drawn art style that uses lots of anagalous colour palettes, used with great results and often reflecting the mood or tone of the scene. There are also simple but effective animations throughout the game that really help bring the stories to life.
The music is an absolute highlight of the game with tracks from Channel of Dreams and Eiko Ishibashi. There are relaxing and slightly melancholy jazz songs with soft drums and saxophone, there are indie-style male vocals over choral droning or a guitar, gentle piano numbers and even eerie tunes featuring what sounds like a theremin and totally abstract soundscapes that are very impactful. The variety of music is phenomenal for such a short game yet there is a definite cohesion helping to tie the soundtrack together across the 6 different stories.
Homunculus Hotel is a short game, reflected in its price, and can easily be played within an hour. It is a great example of a stand-alone visual novel and is perfect to enjoy in one sitting. The narrative and audio are stand-out features of the game but all aspects, especially the artwork, tie together seamlessly for a very cohesive and emotional experience. Overall, this is another beautiful visual novel from Team SoleTude, I wholeheartedly recommend it and can’t wait to see what they make next.
If you like the sound of this game, you might also like these other Team SolEtude titles:
Brand New Interactive Fiction: A Sketchbook About Her Sun – Beyond Your Window: Emotive and Intertwined Slice of Life Stories