Hotline Miami is a game by Dennaton Games that is about one thing: Murdering peopl- Wait, come back, dissaproving parents! It’s not what it seems, it’s not just about murdering people, at no point does the game swing the camera round to the best angle to watch a kill and then yell “PHWOAAAAR” as you finish off some poor sap in a spectacularly dramatic and gory manner (Which would be quite hard to do, seeing as the game is done in the style of an 80’s retro 8-bit style arcade game)! Instead the game is about planning your route carefully, and then executing it with pinpoint precision. Although yes, the combat is rather fast, brutal, and rather visceral. But trust me, the only time I ever react to video-game violence is to wince at the more painful deaths, I haven’t been brainwashed and been turned into a cat-strangling psychopath.
So now that I’ve danced around that issue, I’ll talk about the actual game if you don’t mind. You play as a silent, unnamed masked hitman that picks up contracts on his answer machine (No mobile phones yet, we’re talking about 1987 here). Not much is given about the seemingly emotionless protagonist, but between missions you have these little sections reminding you that even people like him lead normal lives as well. These are normally just parts where you go to pick up a pizza or have a drink at a bar after you’ve finished a job, but it makes you think about it. Another interesting aspect is that you rescue some poor woman in one of the early missions and when you wake up and listen to your answer machine at the start of the mission she’s there in your apartment, and it goes from being a messy wreck to a clean, tidy, nice place to live. However (Spoiler warning) that kind of stops when somebody breaks into your apartment and shoots you both, but how can you not see that coming? Twisted versions of you in your masks taunt you in your dreams occasionally, making you wonder what effect the hitman’s job is having on him. Now, the actual missions.
The missions are simple: They are made up of a few floors in a building which need to be cleared of enemies, which are always just people that work for the mafia etc. so you aren’t just mindlessly stabbing hordes of innocent civilians like in Grand Theft Auto. The gameplay is fast, unforgiving, and VERY challenging. Everything kills you in a single hit, but thankfully works both ways. Possibly one of the most useful things in the game are doors. Instead of opening them like a normal person you throw them open with such force they can knock someone to the ground so that you can finish them off, take their weapon and continue your carefully thought-out rampage through the building, which is probably going to be cut short because you beat someone to death with a pipe but someone shot you while you were halfway through doing it. If you don’t think long and hard about it, you WILL DIE, but dying is half of the fun, in my opinion. This may make the game seem inaccessible for some people, but those people are probably the same people that prefer games that hold your hand throughout the experience. I won’t name any particular games, but let’s just say one of them has the abbreviation COD (Now watch as the comment section of my blog bursts out into a large, violent argument). Guns, unsurprisingly, alert almost everyone to your position, which can mean trouble if some of them are also brandishing firearms. You can also throw your weapon if need be, which can either kill or briefly incapacitate and enemy allowed for you to finish them off, preferably with a baseball bat. At the end of every mission you get scored on various things such as flexibility and boldness. The more points you unlock, the more weapons you get. Occasionally you unlock new masks that do interesting new things like faster exec
The soundtrack is absolutely amazing, and fits it’s purpose like a glove. It makes the entire experience a lot more enjoyable, because what’s the point of going through the trouble of clearing out a building full of gang members with a frying pan if your ears are bleeding by the end of it? Another interesting thing is that it can go from a funky, upbeat pulsating rhythm to a slow, queasy one for one of those story sections where your masks are taunting you etc. I would pay the full £7 just for the soundtrack, if possible (Don’t try and pin that on me).
The graphics- Well, I don’t really need to say anything here. What? You expected me to write a paragraph on the graphics of an 8-bit game? Do you know what it looks like? Here!
You see? Ugh, fine. So yeah, the bright neon colours fit very well with the nostalgic 8-bit design yadayadayada. There.
Well, that was Hotline Miami, you can pick it up on steam for the low low price of £7 or your regional equivalent and possibly sanity.