November 23, 2012

Hotline Miami aka GOTY 2012

No, this is not an album cover, and Hotline Miami isn't a deathcore band. It's a 2D top-down action game created by just two guys. I know we've never posted about video games before so some of you may not care, but whatever. We do play video games on our massive expensive rigs (that we can afford by writing on this dumb blog), but I've never felt the need to write anything about them here - until now.

That's because Hotline Miami is one of those precious few games that instantly grips me and doesn't let go until I finish it 10 hours later with bloodshot eyes and drool dripping out of the corner of my mouth. Hotline Miami is like an 80s retro flavored fever dream, in which you play a nameless, faceless assassin who goes around performing various jobs given to him by anonymous phone messages. All the jobs are the same: go into a house and brutally murder everyone.

Maybe leave just one guy crawling on the floor for added effect.

While you may think the game looks similar to Grand Theft Auto, it has more in common with another Rockstar masterpiece, namely Manhunt. Every level requires you to use stealth, brute force, careful planning and a varied arsenal of melee weapons and guns in order to carefully maneuver around the rooms and take out every single enemy. Hotline Miami is bloody and gruesome and doesn't apologize for it. Every death, whether by crowbar, lead pipe, baseball bat, knife, broken bottle or shotgun ends in blood and guts splattered everywhere, and by the final brutal killing, each level ends up looking like a bloodbath.

Almost had it.

The difficulty of the game lies somewhere around Super Meat Boy levels, so be prepared to die A LOT. Every shot or blow is an instant-kill in Hotline Miami, which means that you can massacre every enemy in a level in a matter of seconds, if you're smart and time your movements correctly. It also means that there's an equal chance of an enemy spotting you and killing you in the split second between pointing the cursor at him and clicking. The game mechanics are solid and involve a lot of decision making. Will you risk going head to head with a foe, trying to score a silent kill with your melee weapon, or will you just fire your machine gun at him and risk his friends swarming on you upon hearing the gun shot? Will you carefully plan your every move, stalking around corners or just go crazy and burst in a room full of enemies, slamming one of them with the door, smashing his three friend's faces before they realize what's going on, then slashing the downed opponent's throat before he's even had a chance to get off the floor? Should you try to avoid the patrolling guard dog or should you cave his fucking skull in with a baseball bat? Annoying mutt...

Casual Friday at the office.

Further decision making regards the different masks your character can choose to wear at the beginning of each mission. There's a ton of different rubber animal masks to be unlocked (monkey, horse, frog, owl, unicorn, panther, pig, etc) with each of them giving you a certain perk: faster walking, the ability to survive one bullet, not being attacked by dogs, instant executions, lethal door slams and so on. For most of the game, I only played with the one that awarded me fast walking, since I loved blitzing in and out of rooms, killing enemies without them realizing it. MAAAAN, THERE AIN'T NOTHING THAT CAN COMPARE TO THE FEELING  YOU GET WHEN YOU'RE KILLING SOMEBODY, MAN. IT'S POWER, YOU KNOW?!

My only gripe with the game is the lacking AI of the enemies. Hotline Miami is basically a gory puzzle that you solve by performing horrific acts of brutality and I don't expect much from enemies aside from walking around in various patters that I have to figure out. But I do expect them to react when one of them crawls around every room leaving a trail of blood behind him, which does not happen - his mates just stand around doing nothing, oblivious to the unfortunate chap who just had half his face blown off and is scrambling about in tortured agony.

There's Joe with his brains splattered all over the floor. Hmm, I wonder what's on the TV in the other room.

Iffy AI aside, I really enjoyed  the fantastic gameplay, psychedelic storyline, stunning 80s neon visuals and awesome electronic soundtrack of Hotline Miami and it's definitely one of the best releases of 2012. Not that I have played more than few of them, but I'll take a well-made bloody pixelated fuck'em-up over any over-polished sack of dicks rolling out of the giant development studios these days.

Head over to Good Old Games and buy this game, you piece of shit.


  1. 'For most of the game, I only played with the one that awarded me fast walking, since I loved blitzing in and out of rooms, killing enemies without them realizing it.'

    Nothing like charging into a room containing 3 guys armed with shotguns then dicing them up with a knife before they can even react! :)

    Nice read, you guys should do more game reviews!