App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Million Onion Hotel is a puzzle game that is as strange as its name might suggest. It’s a game from the developer behind Dandy Dungeon and it involves tapping on onions to make combos so you can earn more time, pick up onion knights, and push your score higher and higher. If this doesn’t sound like it makes a whole lot of sense, that’s because it doesn’t, and that’s ok. Million Onion Hotel exudes Katamari Damacy vibes all while being an amazingly compelling score-chaser of a puzzle game.
In Million Onion Hotel, you are presented with a 5x5 game board that is full of onions that are under dirt. At random, these onions unbury themselves, and you can tap them to earn points. Whenever you tap an onion though, the square it was on turns red. If you manage to to line up a row, column, or diagonal line of red squares, you earn bonus points and a special onion that adds time to your play clock if you tap on it.
At the start of a game of Million Onion Hotel, you only get 30 seconds of time to match onions, but by making line matches, you can earn a lot more time, and doing so lets you experience things like boss fights, cutscenes, and new levels that put new twists on the same onion-tapping gameplay.
Layered, like an ogre
The goal in Million Onion Hotel is to sustain your run for as long as possible before running out of time, but that’s a lot easier said than done. Although you can just tap every onion you see to make line matches as quickly as possible, doing so grants fewer rewards than if you try to make matches of two or more lines simultaneously.
Making matches of multiple lines causes a special item called a Fever Bell to appear, which takes your game board to space and drops more special items (mostly fruit) to earn big score bonuses and add more surplus time to your clock than you would normally by just matching single lines. This is increasingly important the further you get into a round of Million Onion Hotel because new objects that appear in later levels can take time straight off of your game clock if you don’t deal with them properly. It may not sound like a huge wrinkle to the basic gameplay, but trying to line up double and triple line matches while playing transforms Million Onion Hotel from a simple tapping game to a satisfying puzzler with a pretty high skill ceiling.
Contend with the crazy
The base mechanics of Million Onion Hotel aren’t terribly complicated, but playing the game feels like a crazy fever dream that can be really hard to keep up with. This is all thanks to the game’s stylings, which feature space cows, giant fish bosses, asparagus rockets, a quirky soundtrack, and a narrative that revolves around a magical onion soup, mobsters, and war.
The further you get into a game of Million Onion Hotel, the more overwhelming the game’s visuals become. To a certain extent, this makes sense, since it provides a way of making later stages more difficult, but when you lose time because you parts of the game board are completely obscured by overlapping visuals, it can be a little annoying.
The bottom line
Million Onion Hotel can be a pretty overwhelming experience, but that’s part of what makes it so great. Its gameplay is relatively simple, but it layers on all sorts of crazy visuals and twists on its base mechanics that force you to learn from your mistakes and refine your strategy every time you play. There are some ways in which Million Onion Hotel gets a little too hectic and hard to follow, but I’d much rather that be the case than the alternative. Million Onion Hotel is a totally uncompromising experience, and I certainly respect it for that, even if it can be a little distracting at times.