Review: Hotline Miami
It’s no secret that video games these days have taken a heavy liking toward violence. From curb stomping Locusts’ heads in, to breaking an enemy’s bones in graphic detail, intense violence has become common place in the more popular titles of today. However, none of these games execute such actions quite like Hotline Miami, from developer Dennaton Games and publisher Devolver Digital.
Hotline Miami begins with the game’s unnamed character chatting with mysterious masked figures. Throughout the game’s story, you’ll meet these figures again as they advance the game’s plot. The plot starts out simple enough, but by the game’s end, I was left pondering the events that had just transpired. The game leaves the player with just enough unanswered questions to continue with a sequel.
Each chapter begins with the protagonist the answering machine in his apartment. Every message plays out in the same manner: An anonymous voice on the other end poses as a person, whether it’s a baker or a woman requesting a babysitter, and gives you your job. The job could be anything from attending a meeting or even “babysitting some kids”. Either way, the objective is clear: kill everyone in sight. Before embarking on the killing spree, the player is given a choice of the mask he would like to wear. You first start out with a plain old mask but as you progress through the game, you obtain more masks based on different creatures. In turn, these masks grant you buffs or allow you to start the level with certain items such as a knife.
Except for boss fights which usually have a single killing method, Hotline Miami isn’t a game that dictates how you should tackle a specific room. In fact, the game outright encourages you to do it the way you want to. After completing a level, your points are tallied up and you’re given a letter grade. The better you do in the level, the higher letter you’re given. While you might enter a level guns blazing to achieve that A+, I on the other hand felt more comfortable approaching each level with melee weapons. The only time I would pick up a gun is if I wanted to lure a group of enemies to a certain spot before bashing their heads in with a lead pipe or a drill. Oftentimes, this would lead to them falling over which meant I would have to perform an execution on them. Like the game’s neon font and superb soundtrack, executions really stand out. Depending on the weapon you’re wielding, the execution might be different. If the player is holding a pipe, the character will bash the person’s head in, a knife on the other hand will cause the player to slit the enemy’s throat. Sadly, guns don’t have their own execution animations. Instead, your firearm gets tossed to the side for one of the game’s hand-to-hand executions. It’s not much, but certainly something I found disappointing. This problem is especially bothersome when your favorite weapon goes flying into a sea of other weapons then you’re forced to sort through them until you find it again. Eventually, I learned to separate the enemies’ bodies so this would not be a problem.
As is the case with most of the Cross-Buy games we have reviewed here on AnalogHype, the majority of my playthrough was on the PlayStation Vita version of the game. The development of the Vita version of Hotline Miami was handed off to Abstraction Games. Their work on the Hotline Miami for the Vita is fantastic. Jumping from the PS3 to the Vita game is a simple and easy process. The only difference between the two versions of the game comes in the way you control it. Because the Vita doesn’t have as many buttons as the DualShock 3, some of the controls have been tweaked. The game’s lock-on function has been mapped to both the square button as well as the game’s touchscreen. The touchscreen can also be used to manipulate the top-down camera to look around the room for enemies by dragging your finger across the screen. It’s a minor change, but one that can be appreciated as it gives the player some added control when locking onto an enemy.The only problem I encountered during my playthrough of the game on the Vita was a slight framerate drop when quickly cycling through the game’s chapters. I also found it slightly difficult to aim the reticle due to the Vita’s highly sensitive analog sticks. That’s not necessarily the game’s problem, but it’s certainly something you may want to consider when picking this title up.
Hotline Miami has provided some of the most entertaining moments in gaming I’ve experienced all Summer. From start to finish, the amazing soundtrack, colorful graphics, and overall violence of the game provided an enjoyable playthrough. With some trophies and masks left to unlock, I’m still playing the game. Whether you’re a trophy hunter or just somebody looking for a fun game, Hotline Miami is right up your aisle.