Gaminglikeadad's Review of Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami is a top down beat um' up game that was released this past October for PC. It was made by Dennaton Games which is a team composed of Jonatan Söderström, and Dennis Wedin. The game is easily one of the craziest games I have ever played, but in good way. Since it's original release the game has been released for Mac, and recently it was announced that it will be going to the PSVita and PS3 this spring. It was also announced very recently (just a couple days ago) that the game will be getting a sequel, but not much information has been released yet. In case you haven't heard much about the game yet, I want to warn anyone that the game is ultra violent, and is easily one of the most difficult games I have ever played.
Hotline Miami is a top down shooter--the character is controlled with the WASD buttons, and aiming is controlled with the mouse. It took me a minute or two to get used to everything and I can see why a controller might be a good idea, but if you are fairly competent at keyboard mouse controls, you should do fine.
The reason I bring this up right away is because this game is tough, really tough. I knew it was a hard game when I started it, but it blew me away with how insane the game got. Similar to Super Meat Boy, the game is never impossible, but you will spend more than just a few minutes cursing at your screen and wanting to chew your fingers off in the hopes you will grow new, better ones.
Alright, maybe that last line is a bit dramatic, but I really was surprised at just how tough some levels can be. I pride myself on trudging on through tough games, but there were a few times this game made me stop and have to come back later. Besides the difficulty the game is split up into levels, each one getting a brief introduction, and some story progression, but I'll get more into that in the style section.
Your unnamed character starts each level out by listening to a message on his answering machine, and then proceeding to the main level. Each level is fairly static, with enemies following predetermined paths and timing, but weapons are (for the most part) randomly generated, and really that is where a lot of the variety in the game comes from. As you play you also unlock new weapons and masks based on level score--from what I've seen they don't change up the game play too dramatically, but depending on the level and the weapon you have at any moment, you might have a completely different path than if you were differently equipped.
I was also really impressed with how the Masks can change up the gameplay. None of them are necessarily better than the others, but they do change the gameplay pretty dramatically. The level restarts upon your death, and believe me, you will die a lot, but most levels are short enough that the game seems challenging but achievable. The game is really well done, and tight. There are no weak points in the gameplay, and when it comes to a game like this, you really can't have anything that can make the player want to stop playing.
This game is ultra stylized and pulls heavily from the movie "Drive" as an influence. Drive's influence is very clear on the game as the main character has no name (fans have referred to him as jacket), the plot is heavily violent, and the developers even listed the director of Drive in their thanks section of the credits. The game itself is still pretty unique. It is set in 1989 Miami, and has the neon colors and soundtrack to complete the experience.
The game engine also feels like it was built in '89 with screen flickering, and progressive scanning as a feature, not a bug. I can't really describe it, but the game really feels like you are having a "bad trip". The screen seems to tip and rotate while you run, the menus all have perspective 3D that rotates around, and the chip tune soundtrack has a surreal feeling that really fits in with the gameplay and style. All that said, this hyper-stylized and hyper-violent game is an experience by itself, and when combined with the tight controls and tough-as-nails gameplay makes it a must play in my book.
The story of this game is really hard to describe. The main character is unreliable at best, and the story is told out of order. There are more than a few times when it becomes clear that either the main character is imagining what is going on or is hallucinating. It's also worth noting that there are multiple endings, and depending on the ending you will get more information that might (or might not) be right. It's already announced that there will be a second game and I really hope it reveals more about what is going on, because it is super confusing!
I am just going to say that if you are still questioning if this game is kid friendly, then you shouldn't be allowed to have children. The incredible level of violence, flashing screens, and fast pace of the game are all way outside the realm of what any young child should be subjected to.
That being said, if the kids are asleep and you're on wake up duty this game is actually easy to pick up or put down. You can pause at any time, there is no penalty for leaving the game, and the levels are short enough that you can complete a couple if you have an hour or two (but you might die a lot). There is no voice chat, or multiplayer of any kind, and besides music there isn't any sound you need to be worried about, so if the kids are asleep and you want to play, go for it. I really can't stress enough though that this game is way too violent for anyone under 17, and the flashing lights and crazy visualizations would make it hard for anyone under that age to watch anyway.
$9.99 on Steam
- Really challenging
- Crazy Tarantino-esque story
- Perfect style
- Violence may turn some gamers off
- Difficulty leaves a tough learning curve
Game Score: 4 out of 5 hearts
If you are a fan of games like Super Meat Boy, you will really like this game. It has impeccable style, and is a lot of fun. It isn't too short, but doesn't wear out its welcome. It's hard to recommend to a lot of people though, due to its difficulty and crazy violence.
Magic Score: 75%
This game looks and plays awesome, I had a lot of fun with it, but like a Tarantino movie I have to be in the right mood to play it. It's not something I can just sit down and play anytime. I really recommend it, but I know not everyone would enjoy it like I do.