[Destructoid is grabbing its rail gun and heading to Dallas, Texas this weekend for QuakeCon. Stay posted for game news, previews, and strange happenings from the infamous LAN room.]
Russian text, a neon colored flickering background, and haunting ambient music. Hotline Miami's title menu makes a strong first impression that can be mostly summed up in “WTF?” Even down to its nonsensical title, Hotline Miami is a strange game but, unlike its creator's past projects, it’s a focused, narratively driven game where all the obscure elements continually build a bizarre, twisted world and fun game.
Stallions in America, Stench Mechanics, SeizureDome, Burn the Trash, God Came to the Cave, Keyboard Drumset Loving Werewolf. If a Cactus game doesn’t sound like the latest street drug, it at least sounds like a title made under the influence of one. A typical Catcus (Jonatan Soderstrom) game stretches the definition of “ludicrous” to its breaking point, is made in 7 hours, and has crude graphics that would make the Atari 2600 blush. Soderstrom may have a rabid sense of imagination, but Hotline Miami is his first attempt at trying to focus on a project for more than a day. The results are … interesting.
Hotline Miami will draw a lot of comparisons to Retro City Rampage due to its Game Boy Color visuals, top-down perspective, and points-based combat, but it couldn’t be more different. Where RCR is a homage to videogames of the ‘80s and ‘90s, Miami pulls its influences from music and film, mainly David Lynch and twitchy, gloomy electronic music. The game has a strange aesthetic but it suits the story that begins with an owl and horse asking you to kill people. Sometimes the homeless.
If Retro City Rampage is all about causing havoc in open spaces, Hotline Miami is all about controlled mayhem in small areas. You control your character with keyboard and mouse, but there is a lot of nuance to your approach. Enemies can kill in one shot, so you’ll need to keep quiet and be fast when dealing damage. For a retro asthetic, Miami sure is a brutal game. You’ll slit throats, filling the air with pixelated blood. You’ll beat guys to death on the ground with your bare fists. And none of these thugs have a problem returning the favor.
As bizarre and fantastical as the story becomes, the missions remain grounded in reality. You’re always a couple steps away from dying, you can’t kill attack dogs without a weapon, and enemies will spray machineguns at the first sight of you. As a result, you’ll need to use some strategic planning before your approach a mission. By holding down Shift, you can get a view of the area before you approach. The game starts off simple enough, letting you get by on brute force and good timing. Soon, you’ll need to plan out assaults and perfect your approach.
Throughout the game, you’ll acquire masks that act as buffs. Some will make you stronger, while others will make you faster. There is even a Fish Mask that turns all the dialogue to French in honor of French-Canadian Phil Fish. There is also an elaborate points system that judges your play on approach, timing, and other details most games don’t take into account. If you run into a room, you’ll score points for “boldness.” If you use a variety of weapons, you’ll score points for “flexibility.” Like everything else about the game, it’s a very strange thing.
Like previous Catcus games, Hotline Miami has a strong aesthetic that resembles little else on the market. It’s trippy, haunted depiction of 1980s Miami that needs to be seen and heard to be fully appreciated. The brutal difficulty matches the violence, but like Super Meat Boy it is locked into such a quick start-and-restart cycle that you won’t be bothered much by it.
Between its twisted narrative (which we can’t really go into here) and unique approach to top-down action, Hotline Miami is shaping up to be a surprisingly fun and accessible game from a developer who is known for making games that often rebel against those common developer goals. Whether this is an artistic compromise or a maturation is something we’ll find out when the game comes to downloadable services this fall.
|6:30 PM on 04.02.2013|
Mega64 beats the sh*t out of one another
I haven't played Hotline Miami yet. I haven't played many games yet. I'm so buried in backlog that I wonder if it's even worth buying anything new when I barely even touch the stuff I do buy. But that's a discussion for anot...more
|2:00 PM on 03.26.2013|
Hotline Miami debuts new PS3 and Vita trailer
If you've been living under a rock for the past year and haven't experienced Hotline Miami on your PC yet, you'll soon have a chance to play it on your PS3 or Vita this spring. To go along with the port announcement, there's...more
|2:15 PM on 03.19.2013|
Hotline Miami now available for Mac via Steam
Hotline Miami is just one of those games that you want to come to other platforms so more people can experience it. At least, that's how I've always felt about ports. After running up against some issues with getting the titl...more
|11:30 AM on 03.12.2013|
The Mac version of Hotline Miami is still in progress
Sometimes, the sting of a smaller indie team can hurt. Evidenced by how many sleepless nights Team Meat had to put in to patch the PC versions of Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac, occasionally, fixing an indie game can tak...more
|9:30 AM on 03.07.2013|
Hotline Miami fan film is full of murder, and kids
I quite enjoy fan films, and was really digging this one for Hotline Miami. Then I started to notice the actors here all look very ... young. And then that child gets brutality shot up near the end. Kids these days! Still, bravo for the editing and effects. [Via @HotlineMiami]more
|11:15 AM on 02.19.2013|
Hotline Miami coming to PS3 and PS Vita this spring
It's been interesting to witness the rise of games that have a love/hate relationship with violence. Spec Ops: The Line and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance are two high-profile examples. Less well known, but just as effective...more
|4:00 AM on 01.30.2013|
Check out this awesome Hotline Miami fanart
Hotline Miami is one violent, brutal game. It's also a game where you wear various animal masks. Some cute, some scary, and some totally weird. Nothing brings fear to your enemies like a bunny mask! Artist Mark Penman wanted to capture the spirit of all the masks and created this absolutely amazing piece of fanart. This needs to be a shirt like right now. [Via @HotlineMiami]more
|8:00 PM on 12.28.2012|
Hotline Miami and game mechanics versus narrative
Have you played Hotline Miami yet? I hope so! For as much as I feel the satisfying gameplay is the primary draw, there are some interesting things going on with the story -- enough to allow for multiple interpretations of wh...more
|9:00 AM on 12.14.2012|
The winner of Destructoid's best PC exclusive of 2012
While the past is often looked upon positively, it's easy to forget how good we have it now. This holds true for PC gaming, as the barrier to entry for not only who can design games but also play them has become so very low. ...more
|9:30 PM on 11.16.2012|
Hotline Miami DLC likely 'about as long as the full game'
Despite hearing many positive things about Hotline Miami, it wasn't until I actually got my hands on it that I fully understood what makes the game so worth playing from start to finish. Truly this is one of those titles you ...more
|3:30 PM on 05.23.2013|
Super Splatters will be out on Steam in late June
SpikySnail Games is targeting a June release on Steam for its enhanced-for-Windows/Mac/Linux Super Splatters. The physics-based puzzler provided a good deal of fun in its original Xbox Live Arcade incarnation, and this new In...more
|3:00 PM on 05.23.2013|
Spot all the new stuff in this Terraria 1.2 preview video
Early last year, Terraria developer Redigit released a statement that there would be no more major updates to the 2D open-world phenomenon, citing fatherhood as the main reason for moving on. Fortunately for fans of the game...more
|10:30 PM on 05.22.2013|
Raise your badger children in Might and Delight's Shelter
Life as a mother badger doesn't strike me as something that would be particularly easy, but conflict sure does make for an interesting story. Pid developer Might and Magic is going where no one to my knowledge has gone befor...more