When writing reviews there are not necessarily a set of rules. Everyone has their own style. One guideline though is to not give away what you think of the game in the first paragraph. End the opening paragraph with a leading question, enticing the reader to want to continue reading. However, when a game like Hotline Miami turns up, all rules are out the window. When a game this good comes around, I don’t want to wait another sentence before telling you that Hotline Miami is an incredible, brutal, dirty mess of an ordeal and it is the best PS Vita game of the year.
Hotline Miami is a 2D neon tinged retro affair set in the late 80’s with a killer soundtrack. You make your way through the chapters taking out all enemies standing in your way. Their only objective is to take you out. Even the slightest sniff of you existing and you will be violently disposed of. You need to fight fire with fire and there any many ways to kill. You can unlock weapons as the game progresses and all have advantages/disadvantages. The shotgun will 100% send them sleeping with the fishes but unfortunately will alert all enemies, inviting them all to have a murder party with you as the guest of honour. Melee weapons are silent and are just as effective but require a more stealthier approach. Sometimes a good door slamming in the face will get the job done too. Oh and don’t forget about the dogs that want to chew your face off.
You will also unlock masks. A lot of them will be unlocked through natural progression and some are hidden in levels. This PS3/Vita Cross Buy version of Hotline Miami contains an exclusive mask not previously in the PC version. The masks give you different abilities; some mean you walk faster and some mean you have a longer combo window. Some mean you won’t get attacked by dogs and some mean you will have fists of fury to kill instantly. These are important for getting points as you will be graded at the end of each chapter. The chapters are short but absolutely brutal. You will die so many times. The game is pure evil in places but it’s so addictive. Painfully addictive. You literally won’t be able to stop yourself from hitting the Restart button. Some chapters were so hard that I was left wondering what I had done to deserve this, whilst being head over heels in love with the challenge.
The story is amazing too. You receive innocent enough sounding voice messages which somehow lead you to the point of brutally killing your way through levels. I really want to elaborate but desperately don’t want to spoil it for you. All I will say is it’s dark, disturbing, violent as hell and you will love every second of it. When you get around Chapter 12, the game gets so creepy. By the time you’ve wrapped up the 15th and final chapter you will be left stunned, shocked and wondering what it all means. The best part is Hotline Miami is not done with you yet. A further 5 levels are unlocked, showing you parts of the story from another perspective. Even when you are done with story mode Hotline Miami has so much replay potential, whether it’s going back and getting better grades or searching for puzzle pieces. Find all these and you will unlock a secret ending. I have such faith in this game that it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if you discovered the meaning of life hidden in there somewhere.
Hotline Miami is everything a game should be. Thought provoking and ambitious, Dennaton Games have created a masterpiece that will leave an effect on you long after you’ve finished the game. Hell this isn’t a game, it’s an experience. Go experience the game of the year and see for yourself.