It's a cold dark night, your head is swelling, you have a migraine, you receive a phone call, you answer it, a strange and hypnotic voice on the other end of the line tells you that you must 'clean-up' at a certain location, you hang up the phone and go about your way, welcome to Hotline Miami...
Set in the middle of the 80's, yet it seems more of the 60's-70's due to the games trippy colors and themes, HM puts you slap bang in the center of the action and boy, there's plenty of action in this title.
So, off you drive and turn up to your designated location and you put your mask of disguise on, you can choose from an owl mask or piggy mask, you go in and, well, let's just stop here...
HM is a game about 'taking out the trash' and doing it discreetly as possible, you can choose from a range of diverse weapons, from long range to melee ones. As I mentioned discreetly, it's best to do it that way as any other way will attract attention and well, you'll be in a whole lot more trouble than you bargained for.
Take out all the enemies and head for the exit, simple eh? Well, it can be if you do it properly and without them making a mess of yourself. You see, to succeed in the game you have to plan your actions, timing is crucial and a good strategy is always the key factor between life and being a mess, death. Oh, and one more thing, a good memory also comes in handy.
You can use doors to slam down the enemy as they walk by and take them out, if you have just a melee weapon you better be quick to 'finish' them off before they recover, if you have any other weapon such as a firearm, plank of wood or a metal bar, they'd be down permanently.
Despite all your careful planning, timing, actions and strategy, you'd be dying a lot of times, trust me. When I mentioned a good memory would be handy earlier, this would be a good time to use it as this is what the game also requires. HM is a really well designed, balanced and fun game as no matter how many times you die and restart, you really don't mind doing it all over again as each you play, you will get a bit further, that's what makes the title a real clincher compared to other titles I could but won't mention, you know who you are! :)
You'd not just be dealing with a load of bad guys but some end-of-level bosses too thrown in for good measure, so be prepared once they come at ya, you better have a good plan ready.
Graphically, the game is a retro-styled top-down action title. There's violence, lots of it but since it's all in 8bit pixellated goodness, it won't be graphically detailed. The colors are bright and colorful, with cut-scenes that are psychedelic and trippy. The animation of characters are done nicely and at times humorous when the relevant animation kicks in. The visuals are perfect for this game and really adds to the overall atmosphere of it all.
Sound-wise, simply put, the title has a great audio score, with 80's inspired disco sounds, techno and electronic beats. Some tracks are really rather chilling and haunting too, just make sure the lights are on eh?
Overall, Hotline Miami is a fine example of perfectly balanced game design, extremely addictive and gripping gameplay over graphics as a whole. It brings back all the classic and nostalgic top-down action games of past era and puts it all into one. Combined with a diverse range of weapons and indeed masks to choose from, and along with great audio compositions, you'll be playing this time and time again, definitely recommended for the trippy experiences alone a great game with an even greater value! (cross-buy with Vita and vice versa).