Hotline Miami Review
In 2012, Hotline Miami was released and was met with critical claim fromboth critiques and gamers. Hotline Miami sounds like a cheesy 80s show, right? Wrong. Hotline Miami is an incredibly violent, top-down twin-stick shooter soaked in 80s Miami’s underground culture, a culture dictated by drug barons, sex-trafficking and extreme brutality.
Hotline Miami puts you into the shoes of a mysterious man who has no name. You don’t know his motives or his past. The only thing you know is that he has a thing for cool 80s jackets. You are plagued with visions of 3 masked individuals who are all discussing his identity. The Rooster masked man is called “Richard”, the horse figure is a woman called “Don Juan” and an owl called Rasmus who is disgusted with you for some strange reason.
The year is 1989; you receive a voice mail telling you that some cookies are waiting to be delivered to be his home. You find a package containing a Rooster mask and a set of instructions encouraging you to steal and kill a group of men guarding a briefcase. Nobody knows what’s inside this briefcase but you go and do it anyway without hesitation. What I just described is a personification of schizophrenia. The voicemail is the voice that schizophrenics hear in their heads. I am not sure if this was intentional considering the visions he was having in his sleep.
Hotline Miami is divided into 20 chapters/levels. Every chapter begins with you receiving a voicemail from a mysterious voice who speaks in riddles. He then gives him a mission to complete which usually involves killing a certain target or various people.
The first thing you will notice about the game is its top-down perspective which will remind you of the critically acclaimed Grand Theft Auto series on the original PlayStation. You move through colourful buildings swarming with Russian thugs armed to the teeth with blades and guns lusting for your blood. Engaging in battle with these thugs is like a wild western stand-off like in the movies; whoever strikes first is the victor. In Hotline Miami, you will need to learn how to analyse enemies movements and wait for the right opportunity to bust the door off it’s hinges, charge into a room, shower a crowd of thugs with bullets from your Uzi and cut the remaining thug’s throat before they open fire. All this in the blink of an eye. A bit like Neo from “The Matrix” If you don’t prepare, you will die and be forced to restart.
Hotline Miami is the kind of game that doesn’t hold your hand. Your mission is to simply kill everyone. How you do this is up to you. At the end of each mission, you are rated on your performance from A* to F. This grade is influenced by how fast you are in completing the mission, your highest combo chain and how you kill your enemies. You will also be rewarded points which unlock deadlier weapons at your disposal. Unfortunately these weapons cannot be selected at the start of each mission; they are simply added to the rotation of weapon spawn spots littered throughout every mission. For example, you may start a mission in a disco and end up finding a knife in the cloak. If you die and return to the same cloak room, you can end up finding a sledgehammer and can deliver a satisfying blow to enemies’ head.
Before starting the mission, you are presented with a wide variety of funny-looking masks that represent the faces of certain animals. Each mask grants you unique abilities such as the ability to run faster, ability to use unique weapons and much more. Some masks even drastically change the way you play the game.
The one thing that really makes Hotline Miami stand out from other indie games is its fantastic soundtrack, a soundtrack inspired by 80s electronic dance music. These tracks are produced by such prolific Electronica artists like Carpenter Brut, M.O.O.N, Perbutrator and many more. These tracks are infectious and they will get your head nodding as you massacre every enemy in the building. As you deliver the final slash to the last thug’s throat or the final bullet to their head, the music stops abruptly creating a sense of eeriness and dread that fills up the entire building. This “moment of silence” echoes across the entire level as you walk past all the bodies you have killed with their blood staining the floor and walls of every room. They may be dead but your conscience of all the violence you have started still remains intact. I know it’s just a video game but to me, that is pretty haunting!
Most games I reviewed all excel in one or two aspects of a videogame, be it in storytelling and narrative, gameplay or it’s soundtrack but Hotline Miami is a collection of really good ideas put together to make a truly unique and amazing title. A game that mixes great storytelling and interesting characters, addictive, challenging and satisfying gameplay and a fantastic soundtrack to boot. There is only number to dial on that telephone and that number is 10.