Every level starts out calm and collective with the baddies going about their day rather reading the newspaper, smoking cigarettes or even petting their loyal dog. Then up pulls a grey car with a dude wearing a rubber mask and all goes to hell. We realize that these guys are bad and need to die...but do they deserve to die so violently? The video game gods say yes, and thus we continue to bash their heads in with golf clubs and broken bottles. We even murder their dogs for good measure.
Hotline Miami has transitioned well from PC and the controls work astonishingly well. Players will find that it's just as easy to play the PS3 and PS Vita versions as it was the PC. The only noticeable differences is that players can now tag enemies on the PS Vita screen by touching them which most made find helpful during combat. Alternatively, you may have to change up your playstyle a bit due to not having a mouse, but not so much that its annoying. The option to do this is entirely up to you and is not forced onto you during gameplay. Players will now use the right analogue stick to aim which has a slight impact on speed and accuracy. The controls just aren't as tight as they were with the PC version. But you get used to this and move on quickly.
Hotline Miami can be an unsettling game since it revolves around pure, senseless violence. You are tasked with murdering everyone or everything in site (pets included) with either melee weapons, guns or your weapon of choice. Your enemies die with one bloody blow but the same applies to you. Players will have to utilize almost a stealth like approach in order to remain alive through most of the levels. You will need to stalk your prey and form a plan to murder them than it is all gravy from there. Basically this means that you have to move fast and come up behind your enemies and surprise them. A basic scenario involves busting down doors, running in like a crazed maniac, killing one dude then the next before they have a moment to even think, "What the hell is going on?" The gameplay is chaotically fun and never ceases to amuse even if the AI are incredibly inconsistent most of the time.
Hotline Miami reminds us of our own mortality and the fact that it wouldn't take much to kill us. Maybe that is the moral message here--that we can't take each day for granted because it could be our last. A dude in a rubber animal mask could bust in and take us out with a broken beer bottle for no reason. Yeah, that's deep man. Ok, now back to the game. Hotline Miami is a refreshing game because there is constant variety and gameplay even has a great amount of depth. Players have a slew of masks to choose from which add special attributes and fun to each level. The new release even contains a new mask, Russell the raging bull, which turns the game black and white. The overall satisfaction you get from taking out a room of people in a horse mask just can't be matched. You want to earn a decent score on each level and must use everything available to you to do so. You no longer are killing living individuals but racking up points with their untimely demise. That makes everything okay, right? Just as our hero goes from wanting to throw up to not feeling a thing by the end--so will we. Hotline Miami alternatively desensitizes you to violence and manages to deliver a strong moral lesson in the end.
In the end, Hotline Miami has some imperfections but these are completely eclipsed by all of the other things that it manages to do perfectly. The game is wildly addicting and will keep you entertained for hours. You don't get this much entertainment out of $60 full releases these days, and you won't find this amount of fun anywhere for $9.99. We recommend picking this up today!
Hotline Miami is now available on PS Vita and PS3 for $9.99. For more information or to purchase a copy of Hotline Miami, check out the official Hotline Miami website.
Developer: Dennaton Games
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Available for PC, PS Vita (reviewed) and PS3
Release Date: June 25, 2013