Hotline Miami is my favourite game of all time. It’s a brutal, dirty dose of adrenaline that in terms of impact hit the gaming world with as much subtlety as a grenade. When Hotline Miami 2 was announced, my expectation levels were off the charts. But how the hell do you improve on perfection? Dennaton set the bar so high with the first game. They smacked you over the head with it before you knew they were coming. Either way, Hotline Miami is back. It’s time to sharpen your knife, load up your guns and unpack your crowbar. Let the delicious violence begin…
So does Wrong Number improve on the 1st game? It’s hard to say. On the surface, it’s very similar. It’s still a top down world of blood splattered brutality. It still has an amazing soundtrack. It’s still one hit and your dead. But last time around you often had a quick flutter of knife wielding or crowbar clanging, stringing together combos in the nervous hope that you’d make it out of the brief interaction alive. This time the map layouts are much bigger, there are more floors to clear and way more enemies who want nothing more than to smash your cranium in. It turns a quick roller coaster of a ride into a slow, cautious train journey. You can’t take any risks in Hotline Miami 2, and stealth is almost certainly the answer to not getting your face smashed in.
Each level is a puzzle where you will die countless times in trying to figure out how to clear the seemingly impossible. Sometimes it is unfair. The amount of times you get killed by an enemy off screen that you literally can’t see is uncountable. You’ll get your face chewed off by a dog quicker than you can whistle and say “Here boy“. At times, no matter what you do, you can’t defend yourself. But you need to remember, being critical of a game because it is hard is not really fair either. Every time you die in Hotline, Dennaton is trying to teach you a lesson. Yes you were just shot by an enemy down a corridor that you couldn’t see. But you shouldn’t have been reckless enough to walk into that corridor with your guard down. And despite the difficult being significantly stepped up here, every level is doable. You’ll swear, throw your Vita, pray for the madness to end, all before picking the game back up and starting again. You need to accept early on that some things are out of your hands. There are certain levels that force you to use guns and force you to use a certain mask. The lack of choice may feel jarring at first, but again, the game is trying to teach you certain techniques to prepare you for the later levels. So quit whining and suck it up. You can do this.
It’s not just the map layouts that are bigger. The game itself is a much larger affair. It has more levels in a whole host of new environments. You’ll be visiting the subway, a night club (where you’ll literally be taking a stab in the dark) and even going all Rambo in the jungle. There’s also a lot more focus on the narrative too. The story will chop and change between your masked friends in a frantic and sporadic way that actually mirrors the gameplay in a sense. It’s incredible storytelling. Whether you can follow it is another thing altogether though. By the time you reach the excellent final level, you’ll feel exhausted, shaken and trying to debate whether you have the nerves for Hard Mode. Not to mention if you’re a trophy hunter you’ll have the unenviable task of going for A+ grades in each level. Wait, you didn’t think Dennaton was going to make this easy did you? You’ll still try though, coz that’s what Hotline does. Sequel or not, it’s still the most addictive bloodbath in town.
If you were pushed for an answer, Wrong Number probably doesn’t hit with the same impact that the the original did. But spend proper time with it, and you’ll discover that it is an essential piece of the blood drenched puzzle. And it’s because of this that Dennaton should be applauded for providing every fan with a fitting end to the beautiful, f!&@ed up world that is Hotline Miami. Thanks for the ride Dennaton, you beautiful psychos.
Punk Rating: 9/10