Hotline Miami is probably the darkest game of the year. We play an amnesiac with surreal dreams of men eerily reminding him of his past. It’s clear that these beings know who he is, but they dance around the topic without revealing much. When he wakes up he returns to an empty apartment with a message on his phone. This phone call gives him an address and a vague statement about someone that needs to be “taken” care of. Without needing any further explanation, our anti-hero heads out to bask in his homicidal tendencies.
The strobe lights during transitions to loading screens, and the bright neon lettering accompanied by a shadowed out city-scape set the tone. Hotline Miami pays homage to the 80’s and the 8-bit era with its explosive color tones, and top-down pixelated graphics. Brains are blown out, bodies are eviscerated, and blood puddles make up the bulk of what you’ll see during game time. The music is beyond fantastic and will often have you bobbing your head as you burst into your next room. Each section contains a fresh synth enthused beat to accompany your murderous lifestyle.
The Hitman is controlled with the WASD keys and the mouse button. The middle mouse button can be used to lock onto enemies, and the shift button lets players survey the area from a wider scope. The goal is to burst into rooms before being spotted by enemies, and slaughter them in the most creative ways possible. You are rewarded for speed, combos, executions, and variety of weapons used on hostiles.
As you reach higher chapters, the enemies don’t necessarily become smarter but have higher options of discovering you. Dogs can see at a longer range and are incredibly fast. The rooms are vastly expanded so that enemies have more visibility, and even windows are added to the mix with guards on both sides. The increasing difficulty just makes the game harder to put down, and while it’s extremely violent… it’s a pleasing addition to the puzzle genre.
The controls take a small amount of time to get used to, but once you get the movement down the only punishment will be from your own mistakes. Hotline Miami paints a grotesque picture for the puzzle world, and it effectively gets everything it does right. If you can stomach the head splatters, and raw pixelated executions, you definitely have one of the most intriguing games of the year. Half-Ass Gaming gives Hotline Miami an A, this psychedelic puzzle game is definitely one of the greatest surprises this year.