Have you ever wondered what the bastard lovechild of GTA and PacMan would be like? I reckon someone at Dennation Games has. Hotline Miami is that lovechild, seemingly conceived in an orgy of gaming titles, against an Asteroids cabinet in a grimy neon lit arcade as raging electrical storm rages outside.
Hotline Miami is an amazingly violent top down action game much akin to DMA designs classic, but that’s also doing it a massive injustice. The game shares DNA with so many other games too, you’ll find elements of Trials HD, Hitman, Bayonetta and Dark Souls, as well as the aforementioned PacMan and Asteroids.
Set against the background of neon saturated 1980’s Miami you play as… you know what? It doesn’t really matter who you play as, there’s hardly any story here, and what little there is completely unnecessary. The game gives you a set of rooms filled with bad guys who will annihilate you in a heartbeat (literally) and your job is to wipe them all out first in all many of grisly ways. It’s ludicrously simple but deviously difficult with each level basically a puzzle, there for you to discover one of many possible combinations that will unlock a satisfactory murderfest.
You arrive at each scene completely unarmed aside from one of a set of rubber masks you unlock as you progress, each offering a unique power up to assist you in your mission of killing fools. Stepping out of your Delorean it’s then up to you how you tackle the house full of psychos ahead of you. Do you scope out the building, carefully planning each execution, using melee weapons like a silent predator so as not to alert nearby enemies with gunfire? Or do you just run in like a raging nut-job, swinging, firing and mutilating everything in your path like Agent 47 on a bad LSD trip, before casually stepping over the piles of mutilated foes on your way out again. The latter will probably be your tactic of choice to start with, but the fact the levels have an element of randomness to them kind of hinders this. Enemies will change path and different weapons will spawn, leaving you to judge each layout on the fly, planning your rampage all over again.
Hotline Miami is a fine example of gaming in its truest form, the pursuit of that perfect run, maximising your combo’s as you throw your empty shotgun at an enemy before slicing him in half with a katana. The sheer speed of the movement builds as you get into your rhythm – unleashing a symphony of bloodshed – twitching your mouse instinctively like Neo in The Matrix. The game truly can be as fast and frantic or cool and collected as you want, offering up the same twitch based quest for perfection as Trials HD which will also have you screaming expletives as it all goes wrong for the hundredth time, before diving straight back in.
Unfortunately the game doesn’t feature a leaderboard feature at present, which is really its only downfall, however it will still keep you returning to its 13 stages over and over again, mixing up your play style just to see how much you can actually torture the poor fuckers in your way. Also the WASD controls can be a bit fiddly and unforgiving, however it is possible to add 360 controller support manually, which I did and it worked fine
The 8-bit pixel style visuals really do stand out amongst the ultra-violence. Each level is a complete opposite from the dark undercurrent of the game, bright and colourful with all the neon decadence of a Joel Schumacher Batman movie, making it a shame to ruin it with the guts of defeated enemies. The games electro synth and dubstep inspired soundtrack works perfectly in capturing the games 80’s setting, while also feeling modern.
It’s pretty easy to see why Hotline Miami has been causing a stir in the indie scene, winning Eurogamer’s game of show at Rezzed. It might easily be 2012’s most violent game, but it’s also one of the most fun, punishing, addictive and risqué titles of this or any year.
MLG Rating: 9/10 Platform: PC Release Date: 23/10/2012
Disclosure:Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Hotline Miami for review purposes by the promoter . The title was reviewed over the course of a day on an PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.