Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Devolver Digital
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
June 25, 2013

This game is ridiculous. That’s the quickest and best way to describe Hotline Miami , a retro top-down action production that pays homage to the mindless insanity of yesteryear. The main character is almost as faceless as the hordes of enemies he dispatches in grisly 8-bit bloody fashion. The story is absurd; apparently, the guy gets these strange messages on his answering machine asking him to embark on mass murder sprees. So he goes and does it. Why? What are his motives? No idea. All we know is that it's oodles of nonstop fun and reminds us of a simpler, more innocent time.

Perhaps it’s ludicrous to associate a term like “innocent” with a game that has you murdering countless individuals. But the graphics we had in the old days were far from realistic; they were a bit more colorful and detailed than Atari, but that’s about it. Hence, nobody took it seriously. That’s why, when we gaze upon the old-school pixilated style of Hotline Miami , the beginnings of a wistful smile tweak our lips. The special effects are downright comical in comparison to today, but that’s part of the game’s appeal. It puts the focus squarely on the challenging gameplay, as it always did in the past. In short, the graphics are all about nostalgic impact.

The sound is in much the same boat. Those tinny, amusing, electro sounds accompany your violent travels, but there’s a surprise— the soundtrack rocks . It’s hardly realistic if we’re talking about a true throwback, but that’s okay because the kick-ass score is a huge bonus. It fuels the carnage with a singular flavor and believe it or not, they’re still able to embrace the lunacy of the old days. We’re not talking about especially advanced orchestral tracks; we’re talking about music that’s quite simply perfect for this presentation and style. The rest is definitely inspired by the games some of us remember from the 80s, so nostalgia again plays a big role.

The protagonist in Hotline Miami doesn’t have a name. At the start, he’s standing in a room with three men who are wearing animal masks. It’s difficult to comprehend the meaning of what they’re saying. But it doesn’t really matter because after the scene disappears, you wake up in a dilapidated apartment. The year is 1989. You have received a brief message telling you to “clean up” at a certain location, where dozens of criminals are holed up. We’re never sure why exactly we set out to kill them all, nor are we sure of the reasons those foes are all in the same building. But these questions are completely irrelevant.

It’s all about shooting anything that moves in the classic, top-down shooter format of days long gone by. These types of games were quite popular in the late 80s and early 90s, and provided a slightly different viewpoint. You know, as opposed to the common side-scrollers. None, however, were quite as jarringly violent as this game, which involves a whole lot of dead bodies and copious amounts of blood. The old-school challenge exists in some fashion, in that a single shot can kill you (and you’ll die a lot ), but the developers did us the courtesy of putting in checkpoints. Plus, there are times when you have the option to be stealthy, so it’s not all run ‘n gun.