Developed by Dennaton Games, a team composed of Jonatan ‘Cactus’ Söderström and Dennis Wedin, and published by Devolver Digital in 2012 Hotline Miami is an extremely violent introspection that is overflowing with confidence, style and surrealism. This is a video game that takes no fucking prisoners!
Welcome to Miami, Florida. It’s April 3rd 1989 and you have just awoken alone in your unclean apartment…your mind unsettled from nightmares. A cryptic message has been left on the answering machine leading you to a package outside your door. In the package contains a rooster mask and instructions to retrieve a briefcase at a specific location. Without any hesitation you head outside and get into the driver’s seat of your DeLorean.
Arriving outside a rapid transit station, you put on the mask and proceed to kick down the door, knocking over a man that was standing on the other side. A baseball bat escapes his grasp, and before he is able to recuperate you mount his back, grab his head with both hands and slam it down hard against the concrete floor repeatedly. The faint sound of gurgling can be heard as blood escapes through his collapsed skull. Do you like hurting other people?
Utilising a top-down perspective Hotline Miami is divided into chapters, in which the player must perform an arbitrary task at a certain location. At the beginning of each chapter the player will be asked to select an animal mask to wear; each of which provides unique advantages. Further masks are unlocked, along with weapons, as the player progresses through the game.
During each chapter the player must navigate each area killing every opponent therein with a variety of different weapons, in a variety of different ways. The level design is lovingly crafted, drawing you into a sense of macabre focus as you formulate your next plan under the fast-pace at which you must operate. The player is however no more resilient than their opponents and any mistakes made will prove fatal, so expect to die often!
Graphically Hotline Miami is pixel perfect in it’s neon-soaked execution, and you can clearly see the influence Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011) has bestowed upon the developers. The pulsing synth soundtrack blends with the visuals seamlessly and more often than not you will find yourself nodding your head to the soundtrack as you maim, mutilate and murder.
Unfortunately, as with any video game developed for Microsoft Windows, you always have the risk that the game may not be suited to your particular hardware. Hotline Miami was one of those video games that I just couldn’t get to work, no matter how hard I tried.
Fortunately Hotline Miami was ported and released in 2013 to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita by Abstraction Games. In order to port Hotline Miami the game engine had to be shifted from Game Maker to PhyreEngine, which also allowed Abstraction Games to enhance the controls and add extras features; for example online leaderboards.
The developers were then kind enough to add the newly enhanced version as a patch to existing owners of the Windows release…and yes the updated, enhanced version works flawlessly on my hardware.
Hotline Miami is the type of video game I have been waiting for since I completed Rockstar North’s Manhunt over 10 years ago… Unapologetic ultra-violence reminiscent of the video era that exploded during the early 1980’s; Hotline Miami is my new addiction.