I’ve never imagined myself to be that person who rages and carries on while playing a video game. After a few rounds of Hotline Miami, the darkest side of my gaming self showed it’s true colours.
“I’m here to tell you how to kill people” was the introduction of Hotline Miami. It’s not like the first time I’ve ‘killed’ people in video games you know.”
Hotline Miami is a top down action game that forces you as the player to kill everyone in the most efficient way possible and rewards you for doing so.
Every level of Hotline Miami is straightforward. Get in there – kill everyone and get the hell out. You’ll start outside of the building right next to your DeLorean armed with nothing but your bare hands. You’ll also be given the option to choose an animal mask which acts as a perk for example the Owl Mask allows you to see more within the area. You can unlock many more as you progress throughout the game. While the objective may seem easy, Hotline Miami doesn’t make it seem so. You’re a single hitman against 20 odd enemies, single hit kills is the aim of the game here. You can dish it but prepare to get served as well.
You’ll die many times in Hotline as the game plays on the trial and error aspect till you get the right rhythm and method going. I found myself testing out different methods of ‘killing’ till I got the right one. You’ll find all sorts of weapons inside the levels ranging from your basic combat knives to shotgun and rifles. As enemies are alerted to loud noises, shoot outs don’t necessarily end in your favour so plan your actions accordingly.
Doors are probably your only allies in Hotline as they will knock an enemy unconscious for a short amount of time. Take for instance a room full of baddies where one is standing next to the door holding a knife and the other in the corner with a bat. Armed with nothing, you’ll barge into the room knocking the first guy to the floor. As the other approaches you with the bat, you’ll quickly equip the fallen foe’s knife and throw it for an instant kill. Room Cleared! Well nearly, just let me finish with the unconscious guy…
This is just a typical scenario in the early levels of the game but it gradually gets harder as it progresses. Later levels will test your reaction times (or mouse skills) to the limit by chucking near impossible scenarios like the addition of dogs. They’re passable but not after a couple..well I lied..probably 20 tries on average to clear it out. The difficulty shows no remorse for gamers, it’s hard and that’s how it is.
The story in Hotline is very vague to begin with. You play a street punk turned hitman by a bunch of animal mask wearing figures who forced you to do their dirty work which is to kill other gangs. You don’t know who and what their motives are – killing is just part of your resume. The story does move forward revealing more as you go.
There is non-violent sections in Hotline Miami where you can control your character around his apartment. These sections seemed odd at first but I finally realised its the place where the protagonist can keep his sanity in one piece – you’ll do normal things like watch TV not giving a single care of what you actually do outside the doors. It’s not till the phone rings where your darker side comes out to play.
The presentation of Hotline Miami literally feels like your drink was spiked and you’re tripping balls all over the joint. It’s high contrast neon 8-bit style graphics and thumping 80’s style techno music help accommodate that image. Levels will blur and blend creating a nauseating motion effect that only hallucinogens could replicate.
Hotline Miami is a title that stands out this year. The 80’s themed visuals and music injects adrenalin in every level, making it rather addictive and intense at the same time. The combination of trial and error, plus high difficulty may beat you down to the floor constantly but you’ll accept the challenge and rise back to your computer again.
It’s hard recommending this game. The whole experience of playing a homicidal maniac may raise a few eyebrows, heck people will probably call me one because I liked it. I don’t blame them as this is what the game is – a game where you play as a killer who kills people. Hotline Miami is a must play title of 2012.
Available on Steam and GOG.com