Review – Propagation Paradise Hotel

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a massive lifelong fan of the Resident Evil franchise. It’s been a favourite of mine for as long as I’ve been playing video games. However, whilst we do have some great offerings with the franchise (like Resident Evil 4 or Village) there are no solely VR entries on PCVR, unless you use the admittedly excellent mods. Propagation: Paradise Hotel takes everything I love about the Resident Evil franchise and develops it into a full-fledged PCVR game (also available on Quest, but I don’t think this game has been held back by it). Now whilst it’s not perfect, fans of the genre will find plenty to love.

You play as Emily, an employee for the Paradise Hotel, working just as the zombie infection started to spread. Whilst stuck in the hotel, a radio transmission broadcasts letting survivors know they should head to the roof for evacuation. The problem is your sister is missing and there’s a hotel full of zombies.

Propagation: Paradise Hotel Owen

Hmmmm. Seems familiar. Does Spencer have a hotel?

It’s an incredibly basic premise that’s been done plenty of times before. What it does nail (intentionally or not) is the campy nature of the earlier Resident Evil titles, with terrible dialogue that manages to be off-putting and yet charming. However, the story doesn’t develop into anything interesting and the plot feels rushed with an unsatisfying conclusion. It feels more like a first part of an episodic adventure instead of a complete story, cutting before things even have a chance to get interesting. This isn’t helped by its brief four-hour runtime, which left me hoping for a little bit more meat here.

If you remember the first Propagation game, you may remember it being one of the earlier VR titles during the VR boom. You may also remember it being a standstill horde shooter, meaning you didn’t really have much control. I played it in preparation for this one and it was a good time, though with the nature of the stand-still gameplay, you could be forgiven for not really being interested in it. Propagation: Paradise Hotel is very different. It takes away the stand-still shooter experience and develops it into a proper survival horror game, akin to Resident Evil. As you can probably tell, I will be comparing them a lot, since the game doesn’t hide its inspirations at all. Instead, it embraces them and does so with style.

Much like Fobia St Difinia Hotel, Propagation: Paradise Hotel takes the well-established classic Resident Evil formula and brings it into a somewhat underutilized hotel setting. It’s a mostly well-designed space that loops around itself with shortcuts to unlock, as well as plenty of locked doors you will need key items or admittedly fantastic puzzles to unlock. Much of the hotel is shrouded in darkness, and your only way around is a flashlight with worse batteries than the Quest 2 headset itself. Seriously, the flashlight is such a vital tool that it sucks to have with only a few minutes per charge and sparse battery placement. At least let us use light switches to save on our batteries.

Propagation: Paradise Hotel Gun

Paradise Hotel nails that survival horror feel

Flashlight batteries aside, Propagation: Paradise Hotel is an absolute joy. It brings in zombies, which much like those found in the Resident Evil 2 Remake, are tough to kill. Zombies will typically go down in a few shots, but this won’t permanently kill them. As you backtrack through zones, there’s a good chance they will come back. The only way to permanently kill a zombie is to blow their head off, but you won’t be able to do this with the basic pistol. You can also avoid some zombies with a light stealth system. Slamming doors closed or shooting your weapon will attract nearby zombies, so if you move slowly and be mindful, you can save on some resources.

Playing on PCVR with an Oculus Quest 2, the game controls how you would expect. A brief tutorial will introduce you to how weapons and your inventory work. Your handgun appears on your right hip, first aid spray on your left hip, and there’s a face button on each side to open up your inventory. This includes all the useful things such as key items, a nicely detailed map, and a journal to keep track of what you need to do. The inventory system does take a moment to get used to, but otherwise, it’s a fair setup. Also, I found pushing zombies away, if they do grab you, to be somewhat inconsistent.

Being my first journey into the realm of survival horror, in VR I was impressed with just what was achieved here. In one instance I was getting ready to headshot a zombie shambling towards me, then a bigger zombie busted through the door to the right of me. In a panic I just emptied the magazine into his head wildly and took him down. Needless to say, it was an effective jumpscare that managed to introduce a new enemy in the best of ways. This is what Propagation: Paradise Hotel does best; keeping you constantly on edge with some highly atmospheric environments and jumpscares that don’t get annoying. Yes some of them are predictable, but adding it in VR takes it to another level. I was always on edge gripping my quest controllers as I crept slowly through the environment, keeping an eye on “dead” zombies, and carefully peaking around each corner. I probably looked like a lunatic, at least more so than usual when in VR.

Propagation: Paradise Hotel Ammo Counter

Just a heads up, you can disable that ammo counter and I would recommend doing so, as it’s a little too intrusive.

Propagation: Paradise Hotel does a great job of immersing you in its detailed environment. Bodies can be found lying all over the place, and shrouds of darkness block hallways. It always kept me on edge. It’s not the most visually intensive game, with some repeating rooms and the lack of interaction with the environment is a touch disappointing. I was hoping there would be a lot more interaction with the environment, especially when it comes to scavenging for resources, which just consists of opening a drawer.

As for the sound design, you will have a love-it-or-hate-it vibe. Voice acting is pretty rough, but in the charming “I hope this isn’t Chris’ blood!” way from the original Resident Evil games. It’s charming and cheesy. However, characters and story aren’t really its main focus, so it’s not really that distracting. The rest of the sound design is mostly solid, with a great soundtrack and plenty of spooky environmental sounds to immerse you in the setting.

Propagation: Paradise Hotel creates not only a fantastic VR title, but also a great horror game in its own right. It takes the old-school Resident Evil formula and adds an extra layer of immersion. Propagation: Paradise Hotel is genuinely scary and engaging, but its short runtime, occasional jankiness and incomplete story are holding it back from being a truly great game.

Graphics: 7.5

Propagation: Paradise Hotel won’t blow you away, but does deliver a great looking and detailed environment to explore. It’s just lacking in those immersive touches.

Gameplay: 8.0

A genuinely scary horror title that will appeal to fans off the genre.

Sound: 6.5

Weak voice acting is Propagation: Paradise Hotel‘s weakest asset, but does lend a certain charm to it that calls back to classic Resident Evil.

Fun Factor: 7.5

A brief yet highly engaging survival horror experience for VR.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Propagation: Paradise Hotel is available now on PCVR and Quest 2.

Reviewed on PCVR using a Quest 2 headset.

A copy of Propagation: Paradise Hotel was provided by the publisher.