Hotline Miami Review
Posted 20 May 2013 - 05:44 AM
The debut project of Dennaton games, Hotline Miami takes the player into Miami in the 80's as an unnamed character whom fans have come to refer to as “Jacket” due to his iconic yellow jacket. With each new morning comes a new message on his phone, vague instructions to clean up messes or show off houses. Though after the first few days, it become apparent that the true task is always the same: kill everyone in the designated location. Jacket then proceeds to leave his apartment, entering his car and riding off to his next assignment. Stepping out, he puts on his choice of animal mask and begins his slaughtering.
Just as your enemies die with a single hit of any kind (excluding thrown blunt items or guns), you also die with one strike, resetting the level and causing you to approach the task at hand more strategically, synching yourself with the movement of enemies and the environment so as to kick down enemies with doors, avoid glass walls as they walk by on the other side, and silently kill off any dogs as they turn a corner you're waiting at. While different masks grant different abilities, such as silent guns, safety from dogs, and less visibility to enemies, this is still no easy task, and often leaves your body on the floor regardless. Never before has a game immersed someone so deeply into strategical execution of killing off each individual threat with the knowledge that one tiny error could send you back to the beginning of the room.
One would think such a mechanic leads only to frustration, and while it certainly does at times, the heavily synth soundtrack is almost hypnotic as it drives you forward, it just seems too easy to try again and again as the fantastic music beckons for you to take a new approach, the grisly blood-shed becoming further satisfying with each successful kill, one step closer to proceeding onto the next floor or completing the mission. Many would even say the catchy soundtrack is the only good part of the game, though many more would beg to differ.
Hotline Miami is a visually stunning experience, a throwback to games of the 80's is present in the pixel graphics while being infused with heavily 80's neon colorways throughout the levels that seem otherworldy in vibrance. The blood you leave strewn about the floor leaves a satisfying contrast of color that displays your kill prominently as you move onto the next brightly colored room to finish the lives of more victims, easily distinguished from their surroundings by their white suits soon to be stained with their own blood, or in some cases, other unique outfits that identify a uniquely strong foe.
While the story is lacking in emotional depth, it has the player in a sense of great mystery, a significant driving force in continuing even against the most frustrating of challenges with an insatiable desire to discover who it is that's assigning the massacres, why they're doing it, and what the true story of Jacket really is. Many will in fact be left confused, perhaps even annoyed at how lacking the game seems to be in terms of the story. However, those who invest their time into the game will come to a point of realization that makes everything far more clear, though still ominous in nature.
While Hotline Miami may not be for everyone with it's brutal difficulty and simplistic nature that some may see as repetitive, many will fall in love with the game's distinct charm. Amongst the hyper-violent action that allows no room for error, the entrancing electronic music, and acidic color schemes, Hotline Miami is an immersive experience that is almost frightening in how quickly it gives you delight in being a homocidal maniac that leaves a trail of blood, corpses, and empty weapons in his wake. It's no wonder why the game has received such acclaim, and one can only wonder with excitement what Hotline Miami 2 will bring to the table.