Hotline Miami Review

by Leigh Harris Featured

1 Comments 12 Votes 2443 Views 03/12/2012 Back to Reviews

How masochistic do you like your games? Are you a Dark Souls person? Super Meat Boy, perhaps? If you answered yes to either question, Hotline Miami really ought to be on your desktop now.

This brilliantly conceived and remarkably simple title is a throwback to an era in gaming which never quite existed back in the 90s. It’s stylised using all kinds of modern filters and effects, yet bares a strong resemblance to old adventure games. Pixel art characters, a top-down perspective and parallax scrolling for cut scenes make you feel right at home if you ever grew up in that golden age, but underneath the hood lies a difficult beast of a game.

I hate to begin by considering the gameplay here a blend of other titles, but a necessary evil for this game.

Hotline Miami is brilliantly executed, sublimely creative and sadistic to the extreme. Not to mention chock full of surprises and bares a superb ability to keep you on your toes.

Think the brutal sadism of Manhunt, the frenetic gameplay of the likes of Super Crate Box or , the punishing difficulty of Dark Souls and a setting which seems like David Lynch got his hands on GTA: Vice City and decided to make an aerial-perspective Hitman game.

Sound like too much of a cacophony to actually hold together?

Well, surprisingly, it does, and very well.

You move your character around using WASD and point and click to shoot. The AI is remarkably stupid (not really a failing for a game which doesn’t encourage stealth behaviour), so you’ll find yourself dying repeatedly not from being outsmarted, but either out-gunned or just out-paced. It’s a very reflex-heavy game, requiring that you be thinking strategically about how to take out each room full of dudes while being able to nail arcade, lightning-quick executions (no pun intended) in the blink of an eye.

The story is rather chaotic, beginning with a brief tutorial, and having your avatar then speaking to a handful of animal-masked strange people in a room who each appear to be carrying on a different conversation with you. Estranged and confused, you awaken in your apartment in a flashback to find out why these people hate you so much, and meander out the door after a phone call beckons you to a location.

Once there, the objective of ‘kill everyone’ is thrust upon you, and like an obedient gamer, you obey.

Get the Adobe Flash Player to see this video.

Watch the launch trailer

It isn’t pretty. You don’t just kill, you massacre each and every person in the level (and their dogs), hacking their faces open with machetes, slicing them in half with a katana, pummelling their faces into the ground repeatedly until their head is only half on and much more besides.

Of course, Hotline Miami gets away with this because it’s so infused with old-school gameplay pacing and graphical style that you’re pleasantly laughing at the mayhem rather than finding it off-putting.

Yes, stylistically, this game is exactly what it intended to be. The music is a grab-bag of 80s themed tunes which are so rich and strong as to be an essential part of the gaming experience. To illustrate, when you’ve been laying waste to a nightclub full of people and finally take down the last guy on the top floor, the oh so relieving ‘chapter clear’ sign appears and you must make your way back down to your car (a Delorean, just FYI).

So you do, and you’re having to walk back, knowing your completely safe, through a bloodbath. There are bodies everywhere, blood in every room and not a single note being played. Just you, your footsteps and your handywork. It’s actually quite haunting, and only enhanced by the developers’ decision to occasionally mess with you by having your supposed safety be a lie.

In fact, you’re being lied to throughout the bulk of the Hotline Miami experience.

Things will happen on screen which aren’t really happening, characters will be one another with little rhyme or reason, and the minute, pixelated characters grow on you to such an extent that, even without voice acting or detailed animation, there are some scenes which are downright horrific.

It’s got its flaws, though, with some infuriating difficulty spikes standing out in particular. One ‘boss’ fight has you needing to take down five minions while a sixth gentleman hurls Molotov cocktails at you from a van. Of the five guys, two are impervious to melee and require guns to take down, but the weapons which spawn are random, so don’t always provide firearms. Considering that you’ll likely have dozens of attempts at each checkpoint, making it only technically possible to get the arms you need in half of those is a major oversight.

Then there’s some occasional moments where you’ll drop out of the world (or an enemy will), which is infuriating with no easy restart option.

But these aren’t showstoppers. This is a must-play game for those who can handle it – there’s simply nothing else like it anywhere. The only caveats to downloading it right now would be to prepare yourself for the difficulty, that you *must* be a seasoned gamer to handle it, and that you’ve got a thick stomach.

The Final Verdict

Hotline Miami is brilliantly executed, sublimely creative and sadistic to the extreme. Not to mention chock full of surprises and bares a superb ability to keep you on your toes. Some questionable elements aside, hearts will race playing this game. It’s the most novel new approach to the action genre to come out so far this year.

By Leigh Harris

Hotline Miami

Platform: PC
Developer: Dennaton Games
Similar to: GTA 1 & 2, Manhunt
 
Vote for this article Log in with Facebook

Hotline Miami Review Comments

Leave a comment Log in with Facebook
It looks amazing..and holy cow is it hard! I struggled for a while there to get past the first few areas.

Great review. It's an excellent game.

Post a comment

Leave a comment Log in with Facebook
  • Hotline Miami Hotline Miami Video
  • Hotline Miami Hotline Miami Video
  • Hotline Miami Hotline Miami Video

Recently Read

Featured PC Content

Favourite 2014 game so far?

Favourite 2014 game so far?

19/06/2014 Polls 23 38
Uncensored Left 4 Dead 2 rated R18+ in Australia
Gryllis 12 hours News 2 9
Will GTA V radio be updated for PS4, Xbox One, PC?

Will GTA V radio be updated for PS4, Xbox One, PC?

Gryllis 13 hours News 2 6
Watch this Resident Evil trailer in horrifying HD

Watch this Resident Evil trailer in horrifying HD

Gryllis 17 hours News 1 5
Resident Evil Revelations 2 confirmed by Capcom
Gryllis 18 hours News 1 5
Why is Far Cry 4 cross-gen? Check out Ubisoft's non-reason

Why is Far Cry 4 cross-gen? Check out Ubisoft's non-reason

Tano 18 hours News 0 3
GTA V for PS4, Xbox One & PC NOT delayed - Rockstar

GTA V for PS4, Xbox One & PC NOT delayed - Rockstar

Gryllis 1 day News 3 11
How Titanfall dodged its critics

How Titanfall dodged its critics

Tano 1 day Articles 3 4
Friendly Fire Show 67: Whizz-bang McGoogle Edition

Friendly Fire Show 67: Whizz-bang McGoogle Edition

Podcast 1 day Articles 0 3

Community Content

Awesome Gaming Stuff Of Tomorrow, Today! Vol. 3

Awesome Gaming Stuff Of Tomorrow, Today! Vol. 3

14 hours ago Blog 5 0

MMGN Updates

Status
Updating..
Username

dantonmeh is now Level 2!

dantonmeh 10 hours ago
Username

Patrick812, Tano commented on The Last Of Us Remastered cracks PS4 all-time top 10

Patrick812 10 hours ago
Username

Gryllis, maxiboy commented on Uncensored Left 4 Dead 2 rated R18+ in Australia (5 years late)

Gryllis 12 hours ago
Username

Tano shared a story - Awesome Gaming Stuff Of Tomorrow, Today! Vol. 3

Tano 14 hours ago
Username

commented on The Last Of Us Remastered cracks PS4 all-time top 10

Pilkingbod 17 hours ago
Username

K4ZMA, Dusty Lids commented on Persona 5 to be Released on both PS4 and PS3

K4ZMA 17 hours ago
Username

surfdude, Gryllis commented on Xenoblade Chronicles coming only to "New 3DS"

surfdude 18 hours ago
Username

commented on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Double Pass Giveaway!

petersona 19 hours ago