So I Just Played: Hotline Miami

Ah, the 80's. What a cocaine filled, violence driven, neon coloured, white suit wearing time that was. Granted, I was four years old when the 80's ended, but if movies have taught me anything, it's that if you weren't savagely beating a man with a pool cue with a light dusting of white powder on your nostrils you just weren't 80's-ing hard enough. Well don't worry, Hotline Miami has you covered in spades.

If I told you Hotline Miami was like Scarface and A Clockwork Orange put together, with more violence and oddity than both of those movies combined, you'd probably find that hard to believe. And yet, here it stands. In Hotline Miami you play as a nameless character who appears to be a contract killer. Your central hub is your apartment and you receive oddly cryptic phone calls telling you to go off some dudes, 80's style.

"Alright, now to sprinkle some of my own DNA around the place and I'm outta here!"

The story is told in a really interesting way. The game takes place entirely from the low-res, top down view shown above, and many of the most important story elements are just placed into the visual setting for each scene for you to discover on your own. Every time you are in your own apartment things are a little different from the last time you were there to imply different offscreen happenings in the story. It's subtle, and very effective. I found the story itself unbelievably intriguing, if only for the fact that I still have absolutely no idea what's going on.

The gameplay can be described as fast and unforgiving. You need to take out an entire screen of enemies to move on to the next screen and things happen SO quickly. One strike from any enemy weapon will kill you instantly, so strategy is important. You need to survey a room, identify the targets, and take them out before they get a chance to react to your presence.

I'm not sure where my character is in this shot, but I think he's one of the dead guys.

Every time you die the screen resets and you have to try to take out all the enemies again from the beginning. Each screen just takes about 30-60 seconds of perfection to complete, but achieving that perfection takes persistence. In an example of a typical scenario, you're standing at the door to a room, on the other side of the door are two guys patrolling the perimeter. The room extends beyond that farther than you can see. First time, you burst in the door and take out one guy, but the second guy shoots you. Okay, lesson learned.

The next time you wait for the first guy to pass. You slam the door open and into the second guy. He falls over and you charge at the first guy and BOOM! There was a 3rd guy sitting on a couch across the room and he blows your brains out. Okay, new plan. Take the first guy out with the door, knife the second guy, and run back out of the room. Ready? Go! SLAM, SLASH, BOOM, SH*T!! Too slow. Okay, First guy door, charge at couch shotgun guy, turn back and kill second guy. GO! SLAM, CHARGE SLASH, TURN BAM, F*CK!!! Too slow again, the 2nd guy cracked you in the head with a baseball bat. Okay, First guy door, back out of the room, 2nd guy will follow you to the hall and you'll kill him. Pop your head around the corner and the shotgun guy will shoot at you. When he's reloading charge in and get him. GO! SLAM, TURN RUN, TURN SLASH, PEEK, BOOM!!! CHARGE SLASH!! Got him! One room down, on to the next, where if you fail you'll have to do the WHOLE thing over again.

Oh yeah, there are also guard dogs.

It sounds unbelievably frustrating, and it totally is, but also really fun. The time delay between attempts is essentially zero, so when you die you can get right back in and go for it again. Each screen of enemies is also small enough that even the most stubborn scenario can be completed in 15 minutes with enough persistence. In that way it's very much like Super Meat Boy, a very stylistically interesting and unbelievably fast-paced game that is alternately mind-boggling frustration and pure bliss. Oh, and blood.

Lots of blood.

20 Comments
20 Comments
Posted by chiablo

It may as well have been named Ryan Davis: The Video Game.

Edited by Fredchuckdave

Great music, alright game.

Posted by LoveSpuds

I had a blast with this game on my VITA and that music is just utterly incredible!

Posted by fetchfox

It was an awesome game, and what a bitch to get all the masks... I don't think I even managed. Have you finished it? Try using a knife or melee as much as possible, that's a I-wanna-kill-myself challenge.

Posted by Tarfuin

I did use a knife. I actually think the knife was my weapon of choice through much of the game. It was just so fast. I found you could hold down the attack button and just charge at a guy to take him out.

Very effective.

Edited by jiggajoe14

It is one hell of a surreal experience.

@fetchfox said:

It was an awesome game, and what a bitch to get all the masks... I don't think I even managed. Have you finished it? Try using a knife or melee as much as possible, that's a I-wanna-kill-myself challenge.

That's what I ended up doing. Relying too much on guns was a pain in the ass for me.

Posted by James_ex_machina

Just downloaded this as part of PS+. Looking forward to trying it out later.

Edited by Flappy

Hotline Miami is best experienced on a Vita. I did everything in the game, but I don't see myself getting A+ on every map.

Fuck that.

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Posted by crazyleaves

@flappy said:

Hotline Miami is best experienced on a Vita.

Yeah, because playing it on a 43" LCD is fucking stupid.

Posted by Tarfuin

@flappy: I don't have a lot of opportunity for mobile gaming, but I can totally see Hotline Miami being perfect for something like the Vita.

Edited by Aviar

I started playing this after downloading free for PS+ and the game is definitely crazy as shit!

Edited by cloudymusic

@jiggajoe14 said:

It is one hell of a surreal experience.

@fetchfox said:

It was an awesome game, and what a bitch to get all the masks... I don't think I even managed. Have you finished it? Try using a knife or melee as much as possible, that's a I-wanna-kill-myself challenge.

That's what I ended up doing. Relying too much on guns was a pain in the ass for me.

I was all about the knife for the first half of the game, but during the second half I personally started to find that the noisiness of guns can easily work to your advantage. Shoot a guy, back into a safe room, kill everyone else as they run one-by-one into the doorway. Pick up one of their dropped guns when you run out of ammo. I breezed through a number of stages that way, though there still are some situations where it's not ideal.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

Good read, great game - comparisons to Scarface and Clockwork Orange are complete bullshit though, no offence homie.

Hotline Miami is among the GOTG for me.

Posted by Ben_H

This game is an absolute blast. The music is downright phenomenal and the art style is amazing.

Posted by Brodehouse

I like to do it bare handed.

Posted by NorseDudeTR

Vita controls, with the touchscreen lock on are pretty great! I love the music between levels, with the palm trees going by.

Posted by Demoskinos

I like to do it bare handed.

The tiger mask is the absolute best mask in the game.

Posted by Zalrus9

Yeah, I really love this game. I remember the first time I played, when I stayed up all night and then went to work. That was a fun time. Love the music too, especially the tracks by M.O.O.N. Great stuff.

Edited by chilipeppersman

@demoskinos: yea that mask totally kicked ass! game was fun,and had amazing music,just beat it today. I have to say though I dont think ill be playing it through more than once, it was pretty fucked up.

Edited by AMyggen

If anyone wants to watch a pretty awesome speedrun of the game, watch this video (both those guys are big GB fans and discuss Ryan at about 31:15 in, it was recorded late July this year I think).

Great, great game by the way. The disco level is one of my favourites levels of any game, mostly because of how perfect the music for that level is.

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