Hotline Miami Recalls the Original Grand Theft Auto
Wearing its inspiration on its sleeve, Hotline Miami will instantly bring people back to the very first Grand Theft Auto Game. A hyper violent, pixelated game about gangs and crime developed by Dennaton Games, it’s also surprisingly tactical and challenging.
Dennaton Games have looked to Rockstar as inspiration. Creating a similarly violent and care-free game about a thief in Miami, they’ve captured the spirit of the original Grand Theft Auto game and managed to create a difficult and rewarding tactical melee combat experience.
Hotline Miami is a very violent game, something that the almost obscuringly low-pixel art style somehow manages to enhance rather than detract – possibly because it leaves so much up to the imagination.
You’ll be smashing heads against walls and floors, braining people with baseball bats, pipes, wrenches and anything else you can get your hands on before they do the same to you. While there are also guns in the game, the most enjoyment comes from executing a flawless run through the floor with your bare hands and melee weapons.
The game itself is set in Miami – obviously – in the 1980s. That weird decade where everything and everyone somehow managed to look ridiculous at all times while still being intensely boring. The latter is certainly an accusation that I cannot make toward Hotline Miami.
A Bloody Challenge
The levels in Hotline Miami aren’t exactly long. Each one involves a couple of rooms featured in the old top-down style. That being said, unless you’re some kind of gaming savant, expect to be spending plenty of time in each level attempting to beat it.
You’ll be given a bit of backstory before each level, often revolving around characters in creepy plastic animal masks, and then it’s up to you to figure out the best way to eliminate the enemies and obtain the objective.
The enemies will kill you in one hit and they move quickly. Very quickly. Thankfully, the game allows you to look ahead a little so you won’t be surprised by patrols or NPCs that are otherwise hidden just outside of your field of view.
This is where Hotline Miami really shines. There are so many different ways to complete each level. The enemies will see you through windows, hear any noise you make either opening doors or despatching their comrades and come running accordingly.
The best approach to solving what essentially becomes a hyper-speed active puzzler is to take a minute at the start to see where you need to go and who you need to get out of the way. You can obscure their line of site by opening a door in front of them, or, if you want to be less subtle, you can knock them out with one. Once you have one down on the ground, it’s time to finish them off, violently, before they get back up and ruin your day.
Once the action gets started, you need to have a plan in place because it’s really difficult to be purely reactive and survive here. If enemies come at you with guns, you can throw your weapons to disarm them temporarily, giving you time to close the gap and take them out.
All of the combat is pretty much one-hit stuff, so there aren’t going to be any drawn out hand to hand fights. If you do die - and you will, often - you’ll be put back to the start of the current section of the level (thank you for not making it the start of the entire level!) where you can try again. There’s no limit on lives, so you’re free to experiment with different approaches as much as you like.
It’s hard to put into words how much of a bad-ass Hotline Miami makes you feel when you successfully clear a room. As a result of the action being so frenetic and quick – yet accurate – it is immensely rewarding to clear an area, whether you manage it first time or after the hundredth time.
Release Date: 23/10/2012
Available on: Linux, PS Vita, Mac, PS4, PS3, Windows, PC Download
Play the Game
A Surprise Smash Hit
As basic as the game first looks, it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into the development. Dennaton Games can be truly proud of the franchise they’ve created. Everything from the combat mechanics, layout of the levels all the way through to the rather trippy 80s-inspired soundtrack is top notch.
Normally in games like this where I have to try the same level over and over and over, I’ll become frustrated – often because I feel that a game is being unfair. In a game like say, Dark Souls, I get annoyed at how unresponsive the controls are. In something like Super Meat Boy, I want to throttle the level designer. In Hotline Miami, I keep going with a smile on my face because I know the game is being completely fair. Everything is doable once you find the right approach and nail your timing, and that’s what makes Hotline Miami so immensely satisfying.
When it comes to the story, I do feel that sometimes the developers have gone out of their way to make it hyper-violent where it really doesn’t have to be. It’s almost like being edgy for the sake of being edgy at times, holding up the story and character development needlessly for the sake of shock value.
It’s available for a fantastic £6.99/ë8.49. That’s staggeringly good value for a game that will keep you thoroughly entertained for hours and hours. Featuring one of the best combinations of hyper-quick melee fighting and tactics I’ve ever seen, Dennaton Games have won me over with Hotline Miami.
Play the Game
Hotline Miami is developed by Devolver Digital.