hotline-miami-5

Woo nose bleed! I just realized I finished three games this week, my poor little fingers. This time it was Hotline Miami, if ever there was a game to horrify the likes of Jack Thompson (remember him?) this would be it. This game is quite litererally a drug fueled murder simulator, don a chicken mask and follow me to find out what I think…

I first saw Danny O’Dwyer from Gamespot playing this on one of his Twitch live stream daily shows, way back in January, ever since then I knew I wanted to give it a go.

The game has an eighties feel to it, with some trippy, psychedelic, mask wearing crazy mixed in for good measure. The story is er sort of not important, it’s an excuse to be psychotic and a reason to find out why at the end. As you can see from the above screenshot, it’s a top down 2d pixel based game, speed and accuracy are very important as much of the gameplay involves some high reflex twitches to achieve the best results.

So naturally not having high reflex twitch skills, I decided I wanted to play it. Simply pressing R allows you to restart a level, I did this a lot. The concept is to go into a building, kill everybody as quickly as possible, in a variety of horrible ways and thus score points and advance to the next. They are mostly all bad people, Russian Mafia or something, so you can pretend you’re a well intentioned psychotic murderer.

As you advance, get higher scores and kill more “bad people” you unlock weapons that you can pick up during a level and more rubber masks to wear while you’re murderin’ fools. My favorite was the Rabbit mask that allowed me to run faster, although the unicorn with silent guns, Lassie mask for friendly dogs and the horse mask with lethal door kicks were also handy.

You can choose from any weapons which randomly spawn on the guards or within the levels, every time you restart a level the possibilities change, sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much. I personally loved the shotgun and Samurai sword, although sadly often had to make do with a baseball bat or metal pipe for melee.

Between missions you always wake up at your apartment, where there is a message on your answering machine to go to your next murderous mission. Little touches like strangers also wearing masks, trippy visits to the local store for your late night snacks after a mission and talking corpses suggest how detached and messed up your character is, if the horrific kill animations and rubber animal masks didn’t already clue you in.

Visually, what can I say, it looks a bit rubbish by today’s standards, but it works in a way like minecraft works, it’s functional. The gameplay action is what this game is about, it’s arcade like feel and hectic nature can be frustrating if you die suddenly, but the speed at which you can retry a mission give a strangely zen like quality to the act. The music is pretty good too, several of the tunes are worth listening to even if you don’t like the game all that much.

The smooth control interface and fast pace of the action are deceptively addictive, the whole game took me about 7 hours but as I said, I had to retry quite a lot due to suckage with ye olde reflexes. Despite it’s simple and violent nature, the retro feel and the down right weirdness of it’s story make for a fantastic little game, rumors of a sequel are already circulating, so I suggest you get your mask and your pipe and start smackin ‘eads!

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