In Hotline Miami, the player takes the role of an unknown man that is plagued by visions involving three masked strangers who discuss his identity and his actions. He wakes up in his apartment on April 3, 1989 and receives a message on his phone about a delivered package of cookies and how he should read the list of ingredients. He finds the package outside which contains an animal mask ('Richard'), and instructions to go retrieve a briefcase at a certain location while eliminating everyone there. After completing this task, he continues to get more of these messages and follow their orders.
Completed the game
I was not going to play this game. I tried it a couple of years ago, failed miserably at the first level and concluded that it wasn't for me. Then I had some time to spare on my PlayStation Vita, lo and behold, after 2 days I'd finished it.
First, it is pretty known what's good about this game. You go on a massive killing spree of unnecessary violence and then you're forced to face it as you pass all the bodies on your way out. It is a gimmick, but it is ... effectful.
I like the way the game presents itself, the tactical elements to the fighting, even if a lot of it can be cheesed by hiding in a doorway. Still you need to plan in order to get where you want.
What I don't like about the combat is the trial and error. You die and die and die again to find out where the different enemies are placed. In many cases there is no way for you to probe your environment in a safe way, kind of downplaying the tactical part of combat. It becomes a twitch reaction game.
Another thing that I really think ruins the tactical combat is being shot from off screen. They can see you, but you can't see them. In order to counter that you start shooting off screen yourself when you're in a corridor, in case there is someone in the other end. However this attracts other enemies and is not a good tactic.
The trial and error really gets me with the last boss, where the margins are so small, that it's almost luck based in the end. Could be mentioned that I played the game on PS Vita and it is much harder to aim with the small R/L sticks, something that the game doesn't make up for.
After I finished the extra chapter, I went "online" to lookup the story and the game pulls a Braid on me. The game is about cold nuclear war in a alternate reality where Russia has the upper hand. What!? Is this the game I was just playing or is it just pretentious as fuck?
I would prefer if the game was just about how games nowadays consist of massive killing sprees without any purpose, and leave it at that.
I really enjoyed this game, and it was a clear 4/5 until I played the last boss that really bummed me off. The ending was unsatisfactory and that is was makes this "good" but not "great".
Completed the game
This game is a strange thing. At first I was disgusted by it even though the graphics are 8 bit they convey very gruesome violence in a very visceral way.
I had trouble with the way the "outside" of the level strobed in neon colours.
The game was hard and I felt it was strange that although the game was static (enemies in the same place etc) it changed their pathing slightly aswell which weapons some of them carried which made me fail an attempt where I had done the exact same thing 20 times before and succeeded.
As I finished the first few levels the first play session I wasn't sure if I would keep playing the game.
After a little while I felt the need to go back again and all the pieces started falling into place. The music, the violence, the difficulty, even the neon coloured strobing fits the game perfectly and are necessary. The game wouldn't have worked as well without all those things.
I think I will leave it at that as I don't want to spoil the experience.
If you enjoy games where death is not a failure but a necessary part of the game, split second reactions, puzzle action games where you have to react when the plan goes to hell then do yourself a favour and pick this game up. When you pick this game up, think about what the game wants to convey as well, see past the immediate violence, this game also has a message.
This is a one of a kind game.