Chances are, you don't know much about running a hot spring. The completely foreign business model is very different and pretty challenging to fully wrap your head around — but that's kind of what makes it so fun.
Very popular in Japan, hot springs are a spa-like resort in which people relax by soaking in baths of water that are naturally heated by nearby volcanoes. In the game of Hot Spring Story, it's your job to build one of these resorts from the ground up, and make sure it's successful.
However, the fact that you, an American consumer, have probably never experienced a place like this before, you can see how this might make gameplay a bit difficult to visualize.
You need to see how customers react to your business decisions, and try to decipher a pattern in what kinds of moves earn you the most points. For instance, placing certain rooms next to one another will earn you bonus points. As you play, you are often rewarded with a new, unlocked item when you accomplish certain tasks. The trouble here, though, is that often these tasks aren't always explained. This could be an exciting challenge or a cultural adventure for some, but I could definitely see why this might be a turn-off for others.
Because there are so many plans to develop, and then a whole business to run, Hot Springs Story is a game that will keep you busy for a long while. And because there's always a way to make your business better and new ways to spend your money, the game tends to stay interesting.
While Hot Springs Story has the same graphics and tone as Game Dev Story, the two are not alike. Because Game Dev Story is a much more intuitive game to learn, fans of that game might not necessarily fall in love with this one.