Game Review: Hotline Miami (PC)
Hotline Miami is a spectacular game. A top down action game, it’s a violent explosive series of gruesome deaths seen from above. The presentation is brilliantly lo-fi, and pitch-perfect for the 1980s Miami setting, filling in all the neon stereotypes we associate with that period.
As well as a brilliant visual style, the music is incredible too. A mixture of strange techno and thumping club music provides a brilliant accompaniment to the violence you’ll carry out as you progress.
The most important factor though is the mechanics, and here Hotline Miami proves itself to be a spectacular achievement. It is brutal. Everyone dies in one hit, including you, meaning that fights are desperate, violent and decisive affairs. There’s no hiding behind chest-high walls in this game.
As a result of this brutality, you’ll die a lot. Thankfully restarting the level is a mere key-press away, and trust us that ‘R’ key will get a lot of use as you slowly grind through a level. You’ll make a plan, try it, die, restart and adjust. Over and over. It sounds tedious but it really isn’t. You see, enemies are entirely predictable, and as such you can easily lay traps to take out all of them in one huge bloodbath.
Eventually though you’ll get annoyed, throw your hands in the air and just go for it. The fact that this is can be a valid strategy, even touted on the loading screens, makes the experience that much more enjoyable. Constantly improvising your way through the level, not stopping to think or check the destruction you’ve left behind, just flowing through the level in a ballet of death is a brilliant feeling.
Believe it or not there’s a narrative to enjoy, told mainly between missions. Occasionally visited by masked men in a darkened, neon-lit room, it only gets weirder from there as your character slowly loses his grip on reality. It won’t win any awards for storytelling, but it realises that sometimes less is more, and the weirdness just adds to the unique style in Hotline Miami.
The issues are few to be honest, and the majority come from when there’s changes to the formula. There are several boss battles, all of which disappoint when compared to the other sections. The classic forced-stealth mission can be infuriating too. Thankfully neither impacts the game enough to dampen the overall experience.
Hotline Miami is a stellar achievement. Even with such low fidelity graphics, it’s one of the most violent, exciting and weird games in years. We heartily recommend you play it immediately.