A bit of the old ultra-violence
Pointing a gun and firing comes easy in videogames. Ethics and morals never factor in during those moments of decision and there certainly isn’t any remorse. These are virtual bullets reserved for virtual enemies, after all. This thoughtless violence has become central to many game narratives as of late, including Dishonored, Spec Ops: The Line, and now Hotline Miami.
As a result, the game puts an emphasis on stealth and environmental awareness. The quicker you take down a room of enemies, the more likely you are to move on to the next. Knocking an enemy down by slamming the door, grabbing a melee weapon, and pummeling him while he is on the ground are regular acts of aggression in Hotline. There are plenty of guns, but firing one will summon most enemies in a level -- and they have plenty of guns, too. In some cases, you'll need to go in guns-blazing but it's not always the most effective approach.
Hotline doesn’t have the gentlest learning curve. Knowing when to swing a golf club and figuring out which doors you can blast through with a shotgun will take time. The game can be defined as brutal in more ways than one. There is no difficulty option and you’ll often find yourself stuck, as you try to figure out how to approach a punishing level. Dogs can’t be punched, big guys take more than one shot, and enemies can see you through windows: Finding your way through these constant obstacles gives Hotline almost puzzle game-like qualities and keeps combat mentally engaging.
Narrative and mechanics share the spotlight equally. Each level starts with a new week where you receive a new phone call, directing you to the next assignment. Once you clear out an area, you’ll head over to a pizza joint, bar, or video store for a brief story segment. Your actions are rated at the end of each chapter through killings, boldness, combos, time, flexibility (never score above a zero in this category), and mobility. The game never explains its system, but you’ll want to learn it to the best of your ability since doing well unlocks new weapons. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for masks which you can equip before a mission for perks. These perks range from starting off with a certain weapon to turning dogs into passive enemies. For whatever reason, you can't change masks at the start which can be very frustrating when you choose one not fit for the current mission or, even worse, when you choose a novelty mask without having a clear understanding of its effects (such as, making the screen look like a Virtual Boy).
Hotline is a confident and addictive shooter that stands out among releases this year, even though its flaws bog it down. It can be sickening at times and brutal at others, but it all builds up toward a commentary on games and pointless violence. The narrative's downward spiral of violence, insanity, and crime will not light up your day but it's very engaging in its own way. Hotline contains a surprisingly good plot full of mysteries and dark twists that players won't see coming. The morbid nature of the game won't be to everyone's taste, but it's a refreshing story for a videogame.
In a medium where taking a life means so little, Hotline Miami has a way of making each death feel significant. Each step toward a higher score is one further away from your character's sanity. Picking up the gun comes naturally, and Hotline Miami wants to explore why. The game may tease you, exhaust you, and possibly destroy you with its boss encounters and awful forced stealth level, but it all builds toward a focused, dark vision unlike much else in the medium.
THE VERDICT - Hotline Miami
Reviewed by Allistair Pinsof
|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
|3:00 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
|6:30 PM on 05.22.2013|
Devs express disappointment with Xbox One over Twitter
Microsoft's Matt Booty affirmed earlier today that digital publishing policies on Xbox One would be no different than they were on Xbox 360. Any hope that Microsoft would right the ship that has inconvenienced a good number o...more