Created on: February 20, 2013 Last Updated: February 21, 2013
Released in October 2012 for Windows PC, Hotline Miami is a top-down action game that manages to separate itself from other, lesser, average titles in both its presentation and overall quality. After soon racking up a series of awards and perfect review ratings that Hotline was unashamed of boasting on its official website, it was announced in February of 2013 that the indie darling would even be coming to PS3 and Vita gaming platforms.
So, why has Hotline Miami enjoyed such success and accolades? One only has to actually try it to immediately get a sense for why. The graphics are done in retro-style pixel art, although with a fine-tuned detail that prior generations of gaming would never have been able to accomplish, not to mention the fast-paced frame-rate. Nonetheless, the retro appeal is twofold, as the in-game storyline takes place in late 1980s Miami, complete with period-appropriate decorations, clothing styles, and bright neon colors everywhere.
That "twofold" idea, of reinforcing a concept by expressing it in multiple ways, is a theme through Hotline Miami. Another example is the soundtrack: At times shrill, grinding, and discordant, while at other times brilliantly composed and arranged, the background music is exemplary. From the wails of sirens and oddly layered voice effects to harsh beats and tense melodies, the synth-heavy themes lend the feeling of an out-of-body experience, like the player is undergoing a bad acid trip, or dazed in a dream.
Which, again with the consistency of reinforcement, plays out in Hotline Miami's plot. The story follows a nameless protagonist who receives mysterious phone calls. In these calls, coded messages relay a location. When the playable character shows up there, his job is simply to literally kill everyone inside. Yet, in later levels, after so many stages of killing people over and over, the character begins to question their sense of reality, and even the ethics of the situation at one point or two. As does, perhaps, the player.
After all, the gameplay mechanics are a master class in addicting, fast-paced action. The player moves with the keyboard, aims with the mouse, and can pick up and use a wide variety of both hand-to-hand weapons and firearms. Want to try and complete the level using just shotguns and rifles? Go ahead. Want to beat the stage using only baseball bats and golf clubs? Have fun.
But, make no mistake, Hotline Miami is very challenging. There is not "hit points" meter to speak of, no health
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