Hotline Miami is a brutal gem! | First Impressions

in Hive Gaming6 months ago (edited)

▶️ Watch on 3Speak

Hotline Miami is one of those critically acclaimed games that I've skipped. It's sitting as one of the best rated games on Steam (top 40) and I remember it being an instant hit when it released back in 2012. After reading this post from @gabrielserra and this post from @burnoutawesome my desire to play it was fueled once again. When checking my Steam wishlist yesterday and seeing it at 80% off putting the price at around $2 (14 NOK) I decided it was time to pull the trigger. I can say from my first few hours that this was a total steal.


First Impressions

The first thing you'll notice when starting this game is the art and graphics style. It's old school to say the least. Psychedelic old school is where I would put it. It has cartoonish pixelated graphics with a top down perspective.

You start out with a small tutorial that teaches you how to play. Or more precisely how to kill, seeing as that's all this game is really about. You can punch and do melee combat with different kinds of weapons and you can shoot to kill with several types of guns. All weapons can be thrown to knock our, or in some cases kill, opponents as well. Knocked out opponents need to be finished off before waking up. Pretty straight forward combat mechanics.

After the tutorial we wake up in a small room and exit it to meet some rather peculiar characters wearing animal masks. They are definitely not happy with us and start slandering us about things we as the player know nothing about. Apparently we've wronged these guys in some way because it totally feels like an interrogation. From there on out it seems like we start experiencing the preceding events as memories with each memory serving as a level.


Every level basically acts as a small puzzle or challenge we have to overcome by killing everyone present. You start out empty handed and can pick up weapons scattered around the level or from dead enemies. Punching enemies knocks them out, most melee weapons kill them outright and all guns kill in one shot. This makes the killing trivial but the difficulty is increased by the fact that you yourself always die from one hit no matter what. This means you gotta get to all the enemies before they get to you. One mistake and you're out.

This sounds rough but it really isn't. It's pretty obvious from the start that you're meant to die several times over on each level. There's even an achievement to die 1000 times. When you die you just press "R" and you're back in. You can choose to wing it and just go for a fast paced playing style or take it slow and try to learn the movement patters of the enemies and where they're located. This isn't to hard seeing as you get a top down view of the map and can see where all enemies are located. No matter how well you think you know the map when shit goes down the stress factor increases and you end up making mistakes.

Some abilities can be enhanced by choosing different masks. Since we're moving around town causing several massacres we can't just show our face while doing it. Each mask comes with a bonus like increasing movement speed, allowing us to take an extra hit or starting out with a knife. There's a ton of masks and we unlock more as we play the game. There's also a ton of weapons to unlock and these come from scoring points in each level.


At the end of each level your point tally is totaled. You get points from simply killing enemies in different ways. Diversifying your kills gets you more points and comboing up your kills gets you even more. Depending on how many points you get you get a grading on the level, ranging from E (I think) to A+. I've only ever gotten a C- as my worst.

In between each level we visit different kinds of shops and our apartment. In the apartment the phone always has a message telling us where to go to kill people next as well as newspapers lying around where we can read about the killings. The shops are something weird though. No matter which shop we go to, be it a bar, a pizza place or a video rental there's always the same guy behind the counter. He's always giving us things for free as well. I expect there to be some kind of plot twist involving this guy eventually.


Awesome Music

The music in this game can't go unmentioned. There's some absolute banging tunes in here that go extremely well together with the setting and gameplay. I'm sitting here banging my head and rocking out to these synthwave tunes while killing relentlessly. Playing the same level over and over again is no problem while these bangers are blasting.

The songs can't be described with words so instead I put together a playlist of my 10 favorite songs for you to enjoy. I've actually been listening to songs from the soundtrack for years even though I haven't played the game so I know most of them quite well already.

Recording Gameplay

As you might have already noticed I've posted a video alongside this post. I thought it would be cool to see some gameplay from the game. I tried my hand at some streaming a while ago, as some might remember, but seeing as I'm not able to do commentary I decided there wasn't much point to it. There's not any commentary in the video either but seeing as my goal is to only show some gameplay I don't view that as an issue. My thoughts can be read in the post instead.

I was thinking I should perhaps start recording some more gameplay. I won't do any episodes or anything but rather record some material to showcase some gameplay to go alongside reviews and first impressions. I feel like that can be a factor in raising the quality of my content. What do you think? Should I keep on doing that?


Final Thoughts

The game is awesome and I don't regret getting it for one second. I almost feel like I've committed a crime by buying it at the price I did. This game is totally worth the full $10 that it originally costs. If you're like me and has skipped out on this game you should definitely go pick it up from this sale.

This is the kind of game I can see myself grinding out all of the achievements in. That requires me to basically kill a lot of enemies which comes passively from playing and to get the A+ grade on all the levels. That's probably gonna be the hardest one to do. That means stacking up some big combos while diversifying my killing methods at the same time. Goes well together with the achievements where I need to rack up big combos though. Let's hope I'm good enough.


All images in this post without sources are screenshots taken by me.

▶️ 3Speak


Mate, this game is crazy. I never thought I would get addicted to killing and I see it's the same for you. That guy in stores like a pizza shop, video store, etc is too weird I don't know from where, but something shady he was into. I think when I played it at the beginning I felt the same, if you want to get an A+ it's advisable to go through the levels and use Zack's (frog) mask for combos which is one of the things that most influence the grades besides the time of course.

I think it's a good way to complement your content because you show the person who hasn't played it how it is and that can make them more interested in it, at least I liked it a lot, plus it's cool to record yourself playing it. Very good post, I can't wait for you to get to the decisive parts of the Bosses and what happens at the end, I'd like to see it in gameplay. I will give a chance to Hotline Miami 2 to see how it is and if it is worth as much as this (by the way what a good bargain you bought it for 2$).

I was planning on playing through the game then going back with appropriate masks to get A+. Using that mask sounds like a great tip. Thanks!

I could do a recording of the last few levels for sure. Glad you liked it! I'll probably keep adding videos to these first impressions then. I'll probably jump on the sequel when I'm finished with this. Unless I'm dead tired of it. We'll see!

The game looks very brutal, it is interesting from what you tell us in the publication. I want to try this game, hopefully someday I can get to buy it or play it somehow.

What I like most about your publication is that you explain in detail what the game is about and what you thought about each of the aspects you mention. Excellent work.


Well it’s incredibly cheap on Steam right now so this is your chance!

Thanks for the great feedback! Words like these are motivating to keep on creating! Cheers!

AAAAAAAAAAH, I'm looking forward to playing it now. I love this game. When I have kids, this will be one of the first games I will show them.

"Son it is time for you to learn how to kill." Brutal game to start off with for sure!

I haven’t played much of this game but i loved the music (It reminds me of Kavinsky) and the graphic style.

This is one of those games that once again proves how important a good soundtrack is. I probably wouldn't like the game as much if it had a boring and slower soundtrack.

I have always wondered if this game was any good. I may have to check it out

Masked Deranged slaughtering bodyguards is in coming.

It's quite repetitive seeing as you die a lot and just throw yourself at the level over and over but at the same time it's very satisfying.

For some reason I could never get myself to pull the trigger on this game. Probably my aesthetic sensibilities. But like yourself, I've heard so much praise for it. Including your own, now :)

We'll see if I give it a shot, thanks for the quality review! 🙏

P.S. Why are you unable to stream with commentary?

I often used to think that games that looked like this was crap for some reason. I guess I was all about them graphics back in the day. Glad I grew out of it!

We live in a small apartment and I have my rig in the living room. Recording would mean picking up the sound from the TV and me talking to myself would be annoying to my girlfriend. I could time recordings and streams to when she's away but I've decided to just chill on it for now. We plan on moving to something bigger within the next year so I'll probably have my own nerd room then.

lol, well I play Stardew Valley, CrossCode, Undermine and more so I don't feel I'm some kind of graphics elitist or anything... just something about Hotline's aesthetic rubs me wrong, lol.

And I totally understand, wishing you a smooth path to your nerd-room! 🙏

This game is really very good, I played both of them because I loved the gore style, but I didn't remember it until I read the post, it made me want to finish it again.

I'm not sure how to play this game, but I'm not sure how to play it, I think it was Charl or something like that hahahah.



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I didn't know this game but its style catches my attention, especially this type of indie games, for a moment I was discouraged thinking that it was only for PC but I discovered that it's in the PSN store, also saw the 2 called Wrong Number, on my wish list already.

Ohhhh.... It's been a long time since I've seen a review of Hotline Miami Bro, violence made person by the hand of "Jacket" a nameless avenger Ufff.... in the middle of 2019 was that I started to play it and I got so immersed in the story, in the shootings, in the free visions to interpretation, in the ambience, that, how not to love this work of art, I would say that this one of the best examples par excellence, of the graphics are not everything in video games Wait until you get to "Wrong Number" the second release! You won't want to stop playing. If already the soundtrack is magnificent, in the second one they definitely left some of the best songs. In my Playlsit I can't miss the song "Future Club".

I already stopped playing the first one. I loved it to death in the beginning but all of a sudden it was like all of that disappeared and it was just boring. I still have it installed so I'll probably play it some more at a later time.

Be careful, sooner or later this game will make you question yourself about enjoying violence in fiction. It's a bit heavy-handed approach for my taste, but still an important milestone in the history of video games.

As for the soundtrack, it's not only awesome, it feels... complete. Hotline Miami should be labelled as belonging to two different media, a video game and a concept music album. The best thing is that both parts are fully complementary.