Hotline Miami Review
Hollywood makes the life of a hitman look so easy. Characters like Leon the Professional and Agent 47 glorify the glamorous world of whacking, one that brings in tons of dough and makes anybody look undeniably cool. Not so with the hero of Hotline Miami. As this hot new rookie has shown, there is a lot more to the art of killing than you may think.
Created by indie studio Dennaton, Hotline Miami does not get tied up with the motives or the back-story behind your killer. With only a brief bit of exposition before and after each murder, the acid-washed tale of this 80s antihero is light on content. On the other hand, what is here is serviceable, as anything more would come off as forced and unnecessary.
Rather, this killer lets his fists do the talking. And his baseball bat. And his crowbar.
Each chapter throws you into a different building, with nothing but an animal mask to your name. The goal in each mission is to outwit, outlast, and outplay your competition, but the devil lies in the details. Those hoping to barge through a door and rely on cover and regenerative health are in for a rude awakening. Taking a step back from the games of today, Hotline Miami relies on the ol’ one-hit-and-your-dead principle. Death is a common occurrence in the world of Hotline Miami; so much so that the retry button is conveniently mapped to the “R” key.
Those hoping to survive more than 10 seconds in this world best plan out their every move. Victory is only achieved through meticulous planning, methodical killing, and swift execution. Should you go after that ravenous pit-bull first, or set your sights on the shotgun-wielding thug? Should you melee everyone in sight and keep a low profile, or unload your Tommy Gun and bring the enemy to you? One false move will leave you dead, and even the best-laid plans can be undone in an instant.
But when things go according to plan and your enemies are lying in a pool of their own blood, there’s no better sensation of victory. Hotline Miami has a steep learning curve, but it is one that rewards both mastery and experimentation. So many games these days practically hold your hand through each level, but the freedom found here is refreshing. It’s akin to the type of easy-to-learn, hard-to-master gameplay that put both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls on the map.
The only problem with the game lies in its scope. There is no variety to each chapter, which the only variation between objectives coming down to which room you kill everybody in. Still, with a rocking soundtrack from such legends as the Coconuts and solid gameplay, everything that is here is sound. Think of these wishes as a checklist for the sequel.
After all, a hitman’s work is never done.