A man is lying on the floor in front of me, his pristine white suit jacket now a mockery with flecks of red smeared across it. He gurgles, his nose and most of his teeth broken from the surprise attack with a baseball bat I treated him to moments ago, he begins to stir. I’m breathing heavily, everything around me is a blur, there’s bright colours and electronic music coming from somewhere. It’s an intoxicating mix as I move over to the now rousing stranger in front of me. I stand above him and before he can struggle to scream I bring my baseball bat down onto his face three more times. He stops moving, his blood hitting the outside of my rubber pig mask. I move onto the next room in the building, it’s going to be a long night…
Welcome to Hotline Miami…
Yes, Hotline Miami, developed by Dennaton Games and published by Devolver (they also bought us Serious Sam) is probably going to be remembered as the best indie game of 2012, it’s got everything: bright colours, lots of violence, a 2D top-down aspect, that retro feel that we all seem to crave and most of all it’s a great game to play. But it’s more than that for me, I’m a huge fan of indie games and so many developers do so many good things with their games but sometimes fail with one or two aspects but there’s nothing I dislike about Hotline Miami, all of its parts make up one neon coated murderfest that strikes me as the type of game Rockstar wanted to create with the original Grand Theft Auto.
It’s 1989 in Miami, our character, after being guided through the tutorial which explains the basic controls (WASD to move, Space to execute people, mouse buttons to pickup, swap and throw weapons) is led through a dream sequence in which he is reminded of committing some terrible atrocities that he has performed in the past. Reliving these actions
your character dons a rubber mask (each with its own bonus) and proceeds to kill people…lots of people.
The levels in Hotline can play out like a Jason Statham fight scene; you rush into a room, knocking one guy over with the door and relieving him of his baseball bat, you bludgeon a second guy in the room and he dies before hitting the floor, you then turn 45 degrees and press the right mouse button to hurl the baseball bat at a third enemy to stop him from shooting you, killing him instantly, you end this room by mounting the first guy and bashing his head against the floor until his head explodes in a pool of little red pixels.
You will die in Hotline Miami, and if you’re anything like me you’ll probably die a lot. Overthink an encounter just slightly too much and you’ll pay for it from the enemies super fast movement and frightening accuracy, rush in all rubber masks and baseball bats and you’ll end up either full of holes or your brains will become the new art deco piece in this particular bad guy infested building.
There’s something wonderfully addictive about Hotline Miami too, I’m not sure if it’s the nostalgic graphics, the electro-pop soundtrack (You can find some of the track here by the way, I recommend Hydrogen) or the way the screen sways very slightly as you move around the levels, who knows. Another interesting design decision by Dennaton is that upon killing the last enemy in the level – the music stops. It sounds like such a small feature (and it is) but it’s one that certainly has a strange impact on me, having to find my way through a level a dismembered and broken bodies as you make your way back to your trusty DeLorean parked outside.
Hotline Miami has a great atmosphere, a nice difficulty level and an interesting story which only serves as a bonus to its overall charm. It’s as though Quentin Tarantino directed a remake of the Miami Vice TV series from 1984 and swapped the scripts for that of Scarface. If you haven’t bought Hotline Miami already, you should, it’s not very much money and you’ll never forget it.
Devolver provided Slimgamer.com with a review code for Hotline Miami and this review took place on our flagship gaming PC – the BeastRig z77