A quick note to any goons, thugs or henchman reading this. Avoid 80s Miami. No seriously, don’t go there. You will be brutally murdered by a man wearing an animal mask. And then you’ll be killed again, in a different but equally barbaric way. And then again, and again, and again…
I’ve heard blood really stains white suits.
For those unaware, Hotline Miami is a 2D top-down shoot’em up/beat’em up set in 1980s Miami. It is a violent game. The initial scene opens with a hobo telling you he’s going to show you how to kill people, and it only gets bloodier from there.
Each chapter effectively acts as a one-man assault of a building. As the player you must make your way through each stage in the building, slaughtering its inhabitants as you go. Kill everyone and the stage is complete. Once you have done the same in each stage the chapter is complete and you must make your way back to your car, travelling back past the blood stained walls and corridors piled up with mutilated corpses, while the heavy electro beat is replaced by an eerie silence. This contrast is a nice touch and provides a moment for you to reflect on the destruction you have caused.
When you enter an area for the first time, you must initially study your opponents movements. Timing is key and once you start your attack the combat is fast and frenetic. It only takes one hit to be killed and you will find yourself dying over and over. It can be incredibly frustrating at times but a huge amount of satisfaction comes when you finally pull off that perfect routine, an experience which fans of Super Meat Boy will be more than familiar with.
At your disposal is a huge range of both melee and ranged weapons that can be picked up throughout the level or from the still warm bodies of your fallen adversaries. Again just one hit from a weapon will take out most of your opponents, but a punch or well-timed opening of a door will merely knock them over. In these circumstances you must finish them off, each melee weapon having its own unique (and sickening) animation. For example, using a glass bottle will see the player smash it on the ground before stabbing the poor bloke in the neck; while using a samurai sword chops his head clean in two.
Being a somewhat deranged fellow, our protagonist is rather fond of animal masks. Yep, it’s that sort of game. Again there’s an ample selection to choose from, each mask adding a slight twist to the game play. For example; select Dennis the wolf and you start with a knife while choosing Zack the frog will give you a longer window to maintain your combo.
The soundtrack is simply fantastic. Easily one of the highlights of a superb game, with each level having a unique tune to bob away to as you make your way through the level. I have even found myself listening to the music outside of the game, it’s that good. In fact, you can do the same as the complete track listing has now been released for free via soundcloud.
My one qualm with game would be that your opponents do not always behave completely consistently. In some cases I would walk past an area and not be spotted by a particular enemy, after dying I would repeat that same move identically only to be shot by the same guy I walked past so happily earlier on. Similarly, a gunshot would be heard by an enemy one time, only for them to fail to notice the same gunshot in a later attempt. It’s a minor detail, but often frustrating when trying to plan your perfect attack.
I finished the main story plus epilogue in around seven and a half hours and the game provides a huge amount of replay value, with masks to unlock and high scores to beat. And after showing the game to my housemate, he summed the game up with ‘It’s really fun’. And it just is. If you’re at all interested in it I would heartily encourage you to give it a go.
Official Launch Trailer