Hotline Miami Review
Check your answering machine.
It’s hard to gauge the level of public excitement when it comes to Indie games sometimes, even when the press is all over them. One thing is for sure though; everyone who’s laid their hands on Hotline Miami is anxious for its release. As soon as I had a chance to load up Hotline Miami I immediately noticed three things. First, I didn’t know pixel art could get this bloody, Second, there was something very strange going on in Miami during the 80′s and finally, I think I’ve finally figured out this year’s Halloween costume.
I had a hard time nailing down just exactly which genre Hotline Miami should fall into but, for organizational purposes, I’ve classified it as Action. I’m totally fine with being confused about this classification though; I like a game that blurs the lines a little and this won’t be the only time Hotline Miami muddies the waters of your perception.
What I’m speaking of is the fact that even though you’ll be brutally killing every enemy you can get your hands on, there is a strong puzzle element to each stage that you could be forgiven for not noticing right away. If you watch a video of Hotline Miami gameplay it will appear to be a shoot-em-up, but playing the game just might change your mind.
You’ll be playing Hotline Miami from a top-down perspective, with the objective being to eliminate every enemy in each stage. Most chapters will have multiple stages, and dying will cause you to restart the stage. Dying is also something you’ll likely be doing a whole lot of, with the first reason for this being that the game is just not easy. The other reason will likely be the goofy control scheme you’re forced to use. You’ll control your character in much the same manner as a dual-stick shooter, except you’ll be moving around with the W,A,S,D keys, and aiming your gun with the mouse. I know those sound like standard FPS controls, but they don’t really translate well on the 2D platform and I was begging for better controller support by the end of the game.
Still, if you can get used to the control scheme, Hotline Miami is one of those games that really makes you feel a sense of satisfaction each time you complete a stage. You won’t often start a chapter in possession of a weapon, with our anti-hero preferring to procure his tools on-site. Simply going in guns blazing is a great way to get yourself killed and you’ll have to make use of melee weapons to stealthily take out some of the enemies, lest you bring a large number of them running with the sound of your gunfire.
This is where the puzzle aspects of the game come into play; you’ll have to decide when it’s in your best interest to use a firearm, and when to stay hidden, and when to try charging in with either or. Since you won’t be able to see the whole level, all at the same time, you will also have to be careful of where you’re moving and when as most enemies have very itchy trigger fingers.
The real diamond among all of the rough stuff here is the story, which I won’t go into great detail about but will say that it will likely lead you quite far from where you think it started. In simpler terms, you’re a guy who gets messages on his answering machine asking him to deal with certain things, at certain locations, so you put on a mask and kill everyone in sight.
Hotline Miami isn’t a particularly long game, in principle, but I did feel like I got my money’s worth in terms of overall entertainment experience and the unlocks and scoring system up the replay value a bit. However, it wasn’t without a few strange bugs. Sometimes enemies will run through walls and out into parts of the level you can’t access causing you to have to restart the level, since it won’t proceed until you’ve killed every enemy. My character also spawned a copy of himself a few times, and this copy would sometimes mirror my movements, while other times he just stood there. Weird.
There are no multiplayer modes in Hotline Miami.
Aside from it’s quirky controls and minor bugs, Hotline Miami delivers a well designed, and well written, experience that I had a lot of fun with. Like a David Lynch movie, Hotline Miami will leave you feeling like you’re pretty sure you enjoyed it, but your head still kind of hurts and you’re not exactly certain of what you just witnessed. For $9.99, this is a roller coaster you should definitely ride; even though you can see it making some of the other riders sick.