Not very often do developers create a game that throws back to the 16-bit era these days. For indie developers though, it’s a safe haven to jump back in time to create an interesting yet simple art design. Dennaton Games, previously known for Keyboard Drumset Fu**ing Werewolf has gone this route. Last week, Hotline Miami came out and really hasn’t had much buzz about it from what I’ve seen. this 2D top-down shooter is possibly one of my favorite indie games to come out this year.
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Gameplay - This game wouldn’t have been possible to play on the consoles that it was inspired after but it feels great on the PC. Hotline Miami is straight to the point with it’s gameplay, it doesn't really give much of a tutorial on how to play. Besides learning which keys do what, there isn’t really a need for one; you move around with WASD & using the mouse to aim. Despite it being a PC title, the interface for the controls are straight to the point.
Puzzles - In a modern shooter, you don’t usually have to deal with puzzles outside of gameplay but for this 2D shooter, puzzles are a part of the gameplay as you figure out the most efficient way to take down your contracts. Each level gives players a chance to try a different strategy or different character, giving a couple of different ways for players to finish the levels while trying to reach higher scores, which I’ll explain in a second. Setting a few enemies in one corner of the room with a gun or melee weapon, you have to figure out what’ll be best and most efficient way to capitalize on your time and kill rate without getting hit. This creates an infinite amount of replayability especially when you compare scores with friends.
Classic Arcade Scoring - Just like any other classic 80’s game, scoring is how you compete with yourself and your friends for replayability & to sate your competitive nature. Figuring out the most efficient way to kill your contracts quickly will create a large line of combos, meaning you’ll be achieving higher scores the quicker and better you play.
Different Abilities - Playing with different masks giving you different abilities to fit your play style gives you a more interesting experience each time until you find the one that works best for you. Whether using the default chicken mask or horse mask that allows you to knock people over with doors, these elements will help you get to those higher combos depending on how you stroll or run through the levels.
Presentation - As I said in the intro, Hotline Miami is a really straight to the point 2D top-down shooter with 16-bit graphics. With classic 80’s style chiptune music and era-styled environment items, you really feel like you are back in Miami during the summer of 1989. From the opening screen, you get the tone that the main character has to go through some serious sh** to take down whoever gets in your way. With great sound effects for all the weapons & enemies, the presentation in this game is exactly what I would imagine: vibrant colors with typical room stylization for the era.
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Mature Setting - Honestly, the only gripe that I have with this game is the maturity of the setting. For some people who probably won’t even hear a word about this game, the game is pretty violent and holds nothing back when it comes to blood being splattered all over different apartments or houses.
There are a few suggestive points during the game like after one of the early missions you wake up to find a girl that you presume as being naked standing next to the sink in the bathroom. Other than some people that might not like the sexual and/or violent themes, but I didn’t have any problems with the game.
Hotline Miami is definitely on my list of favorite indie games to come out this year and I’m really anxious to continue playing as soon as I’m done with this review. After seeing a little bit of someone playing the game a few days before it came out, I was anxious to get my hands on it and other than writing this I’ve been trying to find time to play it as much as possible.
Despite possibly scaring away some people with it’s mature setting, Hotline Miami is all together a great game because of it’s simple yet dynamic gameplay riddled with easy and difficult puzzles. Playing through the game with all the different masks gives players the chance to have possibly one of the highest replay values for an indie game shooter since Dead Pixel.
*This review was based on the PC version of the game with a review code provided by the devloper via GOG.com.*