Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami is that one game with all of the animal masks and the pixels and the brutality. It is also set in the 80s in a fictional hot pink and sky blue dreamland called Miami. Aesthetically, it’s like if you combined Scarface with GTA Vice City and scrambled it around with the present day scenes of Back to the Future. Or maybe that’s just because you drive a DeLorean. And that DeLorean is totally radical. You don’t actually get to drive it but the main character, Rooster Man, gets to drive it to and from missions.

So the game looks cool but it sounds even better. Seriously the soundtrack of Hotline Miami is awesome. The tracks are mostly short, looping affairs, but they fit together with the action that’s taking place onscreen perfectly. As you get to more difficult levels you will spend more time dying and you’ll fall into a cycle of dying and running through a level endlessly like the song that plays in your ears. It sounds crazy but it all works together to make the experience of dying not a big deal at all. Super Meatboy-style. But the music glues it all together. There’s a story at play and it’s kind of confusing on purpose but it remains interesting and doesn’t get in the way of the rest of the game. The characters are cool and the masks are sufficiently creepy.

Gameplay basically consists of finding a weapon and using it. A novel concept to be sure. But in order to use the weapon effectively you have to memorize some patterns of your enemies, and the patterns get more and more complex. It’s almost like a puzzle game, because you will try different strategies and find that some don’t work and some do so you will substitute certain moves, and eventually keep adding different moves until you clear out the whole house without dying. Combos is what the game calls it and that’s what they are. A simple example: you open the door to a room and there are three people inside, one with a knife, one with a gun, and one with a bat. They circle the room continuously and will kill you within a second of opening the door. But you can open the door and knock out the guy with knife in the same move, pick it up and throw it at the guy with the gun and take down Batman with your fists, all in under a second. This is how the whole game is. It’s minutes of planning and seconds of action, but if you dodge bullets for ten seconds and take down a whole house full of people in one fell swoop it feels like you really get into the “zone” as it were. Sometimes you get lucky and that feels good but the vast majority of your victories are hard fought.

Caution: Wet Floor

Hotline Miami is currently 85% off, on sale for $1.49. This is a phenomenal deal. Yes, PHENOMENAL. What are these, 80s prices? If you don’t buy this game you probably don’t like fun. Even if you only play through a couple levels $1.49 is too cheap to pass up. Verdict: Buy it.

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