I’m really fond of casual time-management games, games I can simply play in long or short sessions whenever I have a free moment. As such, GameHouse surprised us once again with a new series entry in the genre called Hotel Ever After – Ella’s Wish. As always, their games are episodic and therefore, the story with Ella doesn’t end with just this game. I’m glad that I’ll get to see more of her eventually as I really liked this new character and the addictive gameplay.
Whilst I just assumed that this game was going to be a typical time-management game where you just have to serve your guest at a hotel, this game turnout out more magical and engaging than I would have thought. Hotel Ever After – Ella’s Wish contains multiple well-designed rooms which are clearly inspired by different Fairy Tales with Ella strongly reminding me of a certain princess… but I digress.
Ella Centola grew up and was raised in a hotel which her father owns. This hotel is really special to her whole family as it has been owned by her family ever since her grandfather first established it. After her mother died, her father remarried and thus, she got a stepmother and a sister which she never seemed to get along with. One day, Ella’s life is turned upside down and her stepmother decides it’s time to knock down the hotel in favour of money. This is the last thing Ella needs right now as this isn’t the only tragedy the game presents us with.
Ella doesn’t approve that her stepmother simply wants to tear down the precious hotel in order to build something more profitable, rather than keeping it active and within the family. As such, Ella makes a bet with her stepmother, she says she can turn the old hotel into a two-star establishment in exchange for keeping the building as it is. As she only has a few days to complete this bet, and the odds seem against her, her stepmother agrees to the terms and gives Ella the chance to try and increase the hotel’s quality.
One thing I really enjoyed with Hotel Ever After is that you follow the development of Ella’s character, even when she starts to stray away from her original path. I mean, the hotel is incredibly important to Ella, so I couldn’t be mad at her when she did something I personally didn’t approve of. Luckily, she realises her mistakes and wants to make up for it, which is a good trait I would say and it adds a bit of depth to the story. Additionally, I loved the idea of the whole staff being Ella’s ‘real’ family who sticks with her no matter what might happen in the future. Obviously they raised her as well, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a given that they will stay around when things are different. Something I didn’t expect is to see was some romance scenes, although I don’t want to reveal too much…
There are 60 stages in total and three different locations to take care of your guests. The stages change between the lobby, bar, and office. In the lobby and bar, you’re serving guests who are staying at your hotel while the office mostly gets visited by your staff when they need new items for their work. Ella’s pet, the frog, and the cat from her stepmother are accompanying her and of course, they need some attention as well. The cat and frog will ask for food and photo-shoots at times – allowing the player to get more points if they fulfil their requests.
I have to admit that I struggled a little with the bar and found these stages most difficult. Here, you have to clean up after your guests when they’re done drinking and you have to decide whether you want to get extra combo points for delivering multiple objects at the same time or just get to the guests as soon as possible so they leave faster for new ones to come in.
In all stages, after the prologue is done, there are mice hidden in them. They, however, don’t appear all in every stage and only stay for a limited period of time. It’s important to act fast here, between serving your guests, or else the player might miss catching it. Thankfully, there is a mouse sound played when one is available to catch, which works as a great notification (as long as your sound is on). In total, you can earn up to four stars in each stage within Hotel Ever After – Ella’s Wish, each star giving you 100 coins which you can use to upgrade certain objects within each room in order to get benefits during completing your guest’s requests.
Another currency is diamonds which you can earn by completing set challenges. These challenges are different for each stage and I found some really tricky, whereas others I completed without even noticing. To unlock everything, achieving three stars and completing the challenges in all stages is necessary although there are no achievements available in this game.
There are mini-games available as well such as refilling items or helping guests to complete their registration form. I found these mini-games really refreshing in between the time management gameplay, so I never got bored of serving my guests for hours, but admittedly, it also fits the gameplay very well. A new, very interesting feature here is that you can send text messages to your contacts – I liked this feature because it gave a better insight into other people’s thoughts and intentions. However, I found it a bit disappointing that you only have a single choice to reply to the messages you’re getting, so there is no way to influence the content as it’s all predetermined.
While I absolutely love the graphics, and also the fairytale theme overall, I was greatly disappointed at certain cutscenes available as they are only made up of static images – I was even confused at first as I thought maybe the game was lagging. While I can look past that, my main issue is that these pictures seem to be a very low resolution, so it was super blurry on my monitor. These kinds of cutscenes don’t show up very often, but it still greatly bothered me.
Another issue I noticed is that during the other kind of cutscenes, with the actual in-game graphics, the animation wasn’t done well as when the characters moved to another position, it looked like their feet were floating around on the floor. Nevertheless, the soundtrack is quite catchy and I even found myself humming the tunes after completing the game.
While I had some issues with the animation and cutscenes, Hotel Ever After – Ella’s Wish is a lovely first entry of a new series. I really like the fairytale theme and liked the fact there was romance added, I couldn’t help but root for Ella to be able to keep her hotel. While I didn’t agree with every action she made when she strayed a little bit from her original path, I’m satisfied with the outcome and resolution this game has to offer in the end. Without spoiling anything, there is a cliffhanger in the end which will make you crave for the next entry.
I’m looking forward to meeting Ella again and I can highly recommend Hotel Ever After – Ella’s Wish to anyone who enjoys time-management gameplay and magical themes – I personally couldn’t get enough of it!