Walking off of a neon drenched street, you enter a dingy club off of a back alley. You spot three guys in the next room, two of them with lead pipes and a third with a shotgun. You don’t sweat, you’re riding too high the 8-ball from earlier that is pumping through your system and you’re at the top of your fucking game. You kick down the door, slamming into one of the pipe wielding deviants. You’re quick with your knife, slashing the throat of the other and, with a perfect throw, burying it in the throat of the shotgunner. Before the last guy stands back up, you grab his head in your hands and bash it into a bloody pulp against the ground.
You barge into the next room, ready to bludgeon some more skulls when a net of buckshot burrows itself in you face and abdomen from across the room. Time to press ‘r’ and try again. It’s a cycle you’ll find yourself doing over and over again in Hotline Miami. It’s one of the most interesting blends of action and puzzle I’ve played. Each room is a puzzle and the frenetic nature of the action won’t let you just run in gun ablaze. You may make it through two or three guys, but those gunshots alert everyone else on the level and you don’t have enough bullets for everyone.
Hotline Miami [PC]
Developer: Dennaton Games
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release Date: October 23, 2012
MSRP: $9.99 [Buy Now]
Hotline Miami does justify its hyper violence within the plot, but that still doesn’t change that it’s a game about donning an animal mask and bashing faces in with lead pipes. If you can’t stomach or don’t like violence, you can’t get around it here, but that’s okay. You can’t just turn off the plot of a movie so you can enjoy the pretty visuals. The point Hotline Miami is trying to make only works through the plot and the gameplay. If the act of bashing faces in wasn’t as disturbingly satisfying as it is here, the point wouldn’t have been as strong.
Regardless of the ‘point’ the developers are making, Hotline Miami is fun. You get a certain rush from bursting into a room and taking everyone out without error. You’re going to fail, a lot, but that isn’t as annoying as it is in other games. The try, fail, repeat cycle reminds me of Super Meat Boy and is just as addictive. That’s where the real genius comes in, I found myself constantly challenged with each new room, trying on new masks and different weapon combinations to paint the world red. I never hit the point where I was frustrated from failing, I just wanted to keep trying.
Hotline Miami is one of the most unique experiences I’ve had. While it can run into a few hiccups here and there, it is actively being patched and is too damn fun to significantly impact the experience itself. If you can stomach the gruesome violence and like your narratives to make a point every once in awhile, there is no reason for you not to get Hotline Miami. I continue to find reasons to go back and get better scores, and I rarely do that.