Hotline Miami is a game that’s tough to describe in one word. It combines some of the traits from stealth games and marries it to a fast-paced, violent gameplay that is surprisingly fun to play. The game itself is heavily inspired by Drive (2011) and is not ashamed to flaunt it. Nicolas Winding Refn, the director of Drive, even appears in the game’s credits.
The game itself is similar to the original Grand Theft Auto where you controlled the character from a bird’s eye point of view, an angle that’s cleverly used in this title to help plan out your massacre. Your main character throughout the game is a nameless protagonist that uses different types of masks when going in to do his job. Each one of these masks gives the main character abilities such as running faster, finding more guns, and even starting out with a knife. Each level you’re tasked to kill every person in the building. Neon combo indicators, an assortment of weapons, and executions make this one of the most addicting games I have played in a while. Instant level restarts are also another reason why this game was hard to put down. Upon death, the simple press of the button will reset the stage and give you another chance to rush through the level.
The game was not without a good soundtrack. With a mix of Electronic and experimental music, the background music was something that added fuel to the fast paced action of Hotline Miami. Sun Araw, Jasper Byrne, and M.O.O.N. all come together to deliver an incredible soundtrack that fits perfectly into the neo-noir style of Hotline.
Hotline Miami also has a strange narrative woven throughout. The story is not particularly eye pleasing due to the fact that the whole game is told in a 16-bit format but there’s enough mystery to keep someone paying attention. As the story progresses it becomes more and more confusing. The only advice I would be able to give someone is to just wait until the end when everything is explained properly.
The only other flaw, besides the loose story, that stuck out to me had a little to do with the enemies. I love that both the protagonist and the enemies in this game seemed to follow the same set of rules, one of them being the one hit kills, but there were a lot of times when the gameplay felt more punishing than anything. You would break into the room and kill everyone and all of a sudden you would die because an enemy off screen shoots you from the other side of a glass wall that was beyond your line of sight. I understand that this may be used as a throwback to older 16-bit games but it just felt plain wrong when you were in the middle of a long string of combos and you died because an enemy sniped you from the other side of the map. Certain things like this make Hotline turn into more of a memory game than an organic, adaptive one. I personally do not mind in this case but I’m sure there’s more than one person out there that prefers a more organic mode of play rather than a memorization game.
Hotline Miami is not a perfect game but it’s an extremely addicting one. The adrenaline packed gameplay mixed with a great soundtrack make this game loads of fun to play. Levels are split into sections that are short enough to complete in a few minutes but the gameplay is fun enough to keep you playing for hours. The frustration that this game brings you (due to repeated deaths) makes each level extremely gratifying to beat, a feeling that not all videogames can give. Despite the weak story, the gameplay makes it so that you can go back and try to get bigger combos and high scores.
TL;DR: Extremely fun game. Worth the money if you can spare it, if not you can always wait for a Steam sale.
Rockit Raccoon Rating: 8.5/10
Game Informer: 7.75/10