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.
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.
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.
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?
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.