There have been times in the past where some corners have wanted to destroy videogames, due to them warping the minds of our youth. Those people would refer to certain games as ‘Murder Simulators’, so it is with great joy we get to review an actual murder simulator. Hotline Miami is a game that revels in the violence and makes it super fun.
Essentially Hotline Miami is a simple game where you enter buildings and slaughter everyone whom you come in contact with. Why are you doing this? Because of the innocent sounding phone calls you receive that may ask you to ‘go on a date’, ‘eradicate the pest problem’ all everyday requests. What these calls have though are subliminal messages that say “KILL EVERYONE”, or so the voices in our head say.
Whilst the basic premise of Hotline Miami is simple, as is the execution, it is actually a very difficult game to win. It combines elements of twin stick shooters, high score chasing and puzzle elements. Using the left stick to move and the right stick to aim, then attacking with the right button, the controls are very simple. but getting through each level will challenge even the most experienced gamers.
Enter a building and start off killing the people you see, then move through the building doing the same, clearing each room and floor until you get to the end. What makes it difficult is that is takes just a single hit, or shot to you to end the level, making sure you start from scratch. Rather than being a lesson in frustration, it pushes you on, making you determined to learn the best route through. You find yourself planning a route on the fly whilst all the time slaughtering everything that moves, including dogs! (so not one for PETA supporters)
It’s not just finding a route through to keep yourself alive while murdering everyone else, you get points for the various kill styles, so mixing it up will earn you bigger points, as well as getting combo kills, by ending the lives of many enemy guys in quick succession. It all adds up for chasing that high score and a rating at the end of each level.
It isn’t also just as simple as entering a room, killing everyone and moving on either. It can be possible to enter a game of cat and mouse as you try and use the rooms to your advantage, pop in to a room, hit a guy with a baseball bat, run out of the room as you get spotted and then slice the guy who is chasing you down with the knife dropped by someone else. There are plenty of ways to approach each level and that stops what could be a repetitive game becoming dull.
You can also use guns, but guns make noise and attract attention, this again can be useful for some tactics, if you are looking to draw some victims to you, but can also prove troublesome when they hear a gunshot and descend on your location at the most inopportune time. What is amazing, is that none of the levels are long and drawn out, many are over in seconds…Once you have worked out the way to beat them that is. You can spend ages retrying each level until you nail it and just like a game such as Trials Evolution, it has an instant restart that stops the constant restarts becoming frustrating. The reward at moving on is that feeling of accomplishment.
The game originally released on PC and this version is Cross-Buy for both PS3 and PS Vita and we at Gamestyle are in love with the Vita version. That isn’t to say it is a poorer game on the PS3, just that the screen on the Vita was almost made for Hotline Miami. The retro visuals are super crisp and it really does hark back to the old 16bit days, the violence is over the top, but never feeling gruesome mainly thanks to the fantastic art style. Anothing reason why the Vita version is superior, is that you can sit back with the console in your hands, headphones on and just be totally immersed in murdering in various ways.
The Indie revolution has started and this is pretty much a flagship title, a game that shows why the Vita is a perfect fit for the Indie games, why they work so well and why they can be so fun. Hotline Miami is a game that you simply must own, it will be the best £6.49 you will spend, whether you have it on PC already or not!