Released in 2012, Hotline Miami is a frenetic 2D action game developed by Devolver Digital.
The game places you in the role of an assassin who receives obscure assignments over the phone. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything from this game before trying it. I knew very little of it and decided to try it, out of curiosity.
So, what is the verdict?
Context of the review:
I first discovered the game on PS Vita and continued playing the PlayStation 4 version.
To make a long story short, Hotline Miami is certainly one of the best games I’ve had the chance to play in the last couple of years.
When thinking about Hotline Miami, 3 things come to mind:
- Terribly addictive.
⚠️ Disclaimer: Hotline Miami is a game designed for a mature audience. The game is extremely violent and doesn’t shy away from nasty details. You will see and hear brains explode every now and then.
A surprising game
I thought Hotline Miami would be a random game. I was wrong.
In Hotline Miami, you play as a slightly deranged contract killer. He receives coordinates over the phone and cleans entire buildings without asking questions. And that’s that. Devolver style.
Now, while the plot is rather simple, the atmosphere of the game is incredible. It offers a dark, yet colorful 80s vibe that really made me think about the movie Drive (2011) starring Ryan Gosling.
And all of it is carried by a frenetic soundtrack. Give it a listen, you’ll understand what I mean.
Intuitive, yet complex controls
The gameplay is another element I appreciated in Hotline Miami. And I’m saying this after playing it through from a PS Vita, which I don’t find comfortable at all for long sessions.
Still, I found Hotline Miami’s gameplay intuitive, mostly because you only need a couple of minutes to understand it all. You need to control 5 things:
- Move the character in the space (Left stick)
- Aim (Right stick)
- Pick and drop items.
- Lock enemies
The game opens with a quick tutorial to explain those controls.
Don’t be fooled (like I was at first) by the simplicity of the controls. If the game opens with easy-to-complete arenas, you’ll only be able to get out of some situations by mastering combinations and the various weapons the game offers.
There are always several ways to dispose of your enemies, depending on the weapons you are using and the layout of the buildings. Use a gun, and you can kill bad guys from afar… at the cost of revealing your position to the rest of them (spoiler alert: guns are pretty loud).
I personally found it more efficient to use silent weapons such as knives and baseball bats to dispose of enemies without making a fuss.
A short but frenetic adventure
The action never stops in Hotline Miami. You enter a place, kill everyone—literally painting the walls with their blood— and go home, waiting for the next job. Loading times are almost nonexistent, and you’re thrown into the action non-stop.
Don’t expect to spend more than 5-6 hours to beat the game. If you feel confident and skilled enough, you might want to try and unlock all the bonus masks.
You can wear one at a time to unlock special abilities: run faster, be more resistant to bullets, one-shot enemies with doors, etc. Yep, you can also kill enemies with doors.
A die and retry addictive experience
This game absorbed my time. I started my first session at 9 PM. It ended at 2 AM.
Hotline Miami’s gameplay is so smooth that you won’t see time pass as you play. Now, I have to stress that the game is not easy, and you will die over and over, and over, and over again until you make it out alive.
To complete each level, you’ll need to be strategic, analyze your enemies’ routes and plan most of your moves with surgical precision.
Verdict: good buy, or goodbye?
This game is so wrong and yet, so good. Go play Hotline Miami if you haven’t already. Really, go right now.
It’s available for less than €/$/£10 (on Steam, the Xbox, and PlayStation Stores), or bundled with Hotline Miami 2 for €/$/£25 on the Nintendo eShop.