Hotline Miami ReviewsHotline Miami
may not look like it from the screenshots, but it's more of a music game than an action-shooter - and not just because of the brilliant, pulsing chiptune soundtrack either. Rather, it's the action which forms the real music; each of the song-length levels forming a chorus of curses, punches and gunshots. And there you are at the stage's frontline, like a Serial Killer Hero.
Understood this way, you can finally understand why Hotline Miami doesn't let you save your game - it'd interrupt a rhythm which is otherwise preserved in everything from disco-light backgrounds to dancing camera angles. You can also see why it's so difficult and why mastering the controls is so important; you're playing an instrument and every bum note spoils the song.
As a music game Hotline Miami's appeal is naturally limited by the quality of it's setlist - but it doesn't disappoint. There's everything from stealthy slow-builders to powerful death metal anthems on offer here, each wrapped in a disco-punk aesthetic which serves to set Hotline apart and breathe life back into the genre, at last. Nine out of ten.
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isn't big and it isn't clever; it's an indie darling that's been happily caught up in games journalism's latest fashion of anti-popularism. If it was released at any other time then it would have been ignored or laughed at, but now that we're coming to the end of a console generation and indie games have latched on to retro art-styles? Now
it's a big deal, apparently.
This, even despite that it was developed with an off-the-shelf gamemaking suite - a fact which shows in the lack of gamepad support and occasional system crashes but which you're supposed to overlook because it's indie
. You're supposed to feel good about spending your money on something this weird and keeping your cash away from the big, evil publishers - as if this were the game equivalent of a fair-trade coffee.
That's not to say Hotline Miami is a bad game; it's fun enough in a weird, try-hard sort of way, but it'd be more appropriate to play something like this on Newsgrounds over your lunch break. Judged by the standards of a professionally produced, paid-for computer game Hotline Miami inevitably falls down, no matter what New Games Journalists and hipster sycophants might say. Three out of ten.
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is difficult to understand. Playing it, I've thought it's a puzzle-strategy game where you have to devise the perfect plan, a 2D twitch-shooter vaguely analogous to Counter-Strike and a grandly presented philosophical statement about death as entertainment. I'm not sure any of those ideas is right, though some of them might be close.
I've thought that it's a great game, because it's easy to think that when you're doing well or if you're in the mood for a specific type of frustration - but I've also thought it terrible because there are flaws you can't overlook even then. Maybe it's equal parts good and bad? I can't say I'm certain, though I've certainly thought about it a lot.
The only thing I know for sure is that there's something deeply - almost unsettlingly
- urgent about Hotline Miami. Something that's been bubbling up inside gaming for a very long time and which has finally taken form in a curious blend of balletic combat, trippy visuals and anarchic writing. Something important.
Hotline Miami is not a perfect game and it's not one I'll pretend to fully understand (that's a mistake
I've made before) but I can say that much: it's important. That's enough.