Reviewed By: Jamaal Ryan
Few games have left me in various states of synesthesia like Hotline Miami. The hypnotic tempo of the electronic soundtrack zoned me in, sometimes pied-pipering me into a complete disregard for my life. Other times, I was completely lifted with euphoria in such a way that few arcade games can after I wiped out an entire floor of enemies within seconds. Hotline Miami loosely simulates homicidal psychosis, having you giggle creepily along the way.
The golden age visual overlay of this top-down twin stick brawler rechristens your appreciation for 16 bit style simply because of what the developer has been able to accomplish with it. Simply put, Hotline Miami is the most disturbingly colorful and violent game I've ever seen, standing as the epitome of art direction over realism.
Heads burst open like watermelons soaking the floor with brain matter, pink entrails spill out leaving gaping torsos and horrifying expressions, jets of blood shoot out of faces and jugulars redecorating hallways and colorful rooms. It’s even more disturbing watching these isometric sprites grab their cut throats and kick hopelessly, or crawl away after suffering a fatal head injury. The results of your brutal inflictions, and your very own demise, depict enough for you to register what has happened, but leave enough for you to fill in with your imagination, making the violence that much more shockingly brilliant.
This obfuscating grime tale as a contracted serial killer is an ideal cesspool of conveying the various states of confusion and insanity the masked murderer goes through. While you may be able to read the text on screen from chatty pixelated faces, the context is so foreign it’s almost as if they’re speaking another language. Some ignore the horrible deaths that befall various victims, others mock your deliberate lack of understanding. It’s almost worth revisiting just to formulate your own theory of the events that take place, but it absolutely deserves multiple playthroughs just to kill countless bald headed, white blazer wearing men again.
You can lose an undocumented amount of time between seeing how far you can go with no strategic planning whatsoever, and patiently observing enemies' patrol patterns until they align with your mental death constellation. Most games frustrate when that constellation is broken by an unaccounted variable, but the startling pop out of any assortment of fire arms, or a thwack or shank of a tire iron or cooking knife elicits a near comical reaction. With a fast pace, swift deaths and instant reloads, you'll engage, then die, engage then die over and over again.
And you’ll do so by caving faces into mush, spilling out guts with knives and fire arms, and painting the walls and floors with blood with either a careless gallivant or military precision. Once you get it right under the hazy beats, it’s electrifying.
Your objectives may be straight forward: receive job via answering machine, enter you vehicle to the designated location, slip on you mask at the door, and slaughter. But how you'll approach each job will vary playthrough to playthrough.
Masks grant special perks from elongated lines of sight, to auto equipped knives, to turning any throw-able object and even doors into environmental fatal weapons. You mostly begin each game unarmed, having to then gather guns or melee weapons from your fallen foes. In one session, you can gun down enemies with the limited ammo in your fire arms which then attracts the attention of near-by AI, or immediately after a game starts, slit a guy's throat from behind and kick open a door as a poor sap passes by, killing him instantly and then repeat covert assassinations till everyone’s dead.
It's easy to set challenges for yourself to complete levels while experimenting with mechanics. But the results are always the same. Every game ends with having you backtrack down the stairs to the entrance you invited yourself through; and each time as you pass your homicidal trail of mutilated corpses and blood stained floors, you’ll want to say to yourself, "Fuck yes, I did that.”
(Repeat quote here.)
The Bottom Line
And you’ll want to do it again, and again, and again. Hotline Miami is an extraordinarily addictive action game. Its provocative 16 bit visuals and psychedelic/electronica soundtrack are agents to this dependency wanting to make an absolute mess of soon to be disfigured bodies. Regardless of the fact that Hotline Miami exists on the PC, this isometric slaughter hyper simulator can't not be on your Playstation Vita.
+ Disgustingly gorgeous 16 bit visuals
+ Sound system worth soundtrack
+ Rapid twitch paced gameplay
+ Excellent replay value