Well that escalated quickly.
That's the sort of response you'll have playing Hotline Miami, along with a series of four-letter words as the game's unnamed antihero gets shot, sliced, bludgeoned and ripped apart. It's the type of experience where one mistake results in deadly consequences, all because you failed to note the tiniest detail that quickly brought about the character's demise.
As console and handheld players, we've impatiently waited for this title to appear on PlayStation Vita and the port lives up to the celebrated PC version. Hotline Miami is a game of intense and brutal violence wrapped within an 8-bit shell, but there was nothing like it on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in the day. We were too busy grabbing coins in Super Mario Bros. and jewels in DuckTales. You know, instead of bashing a mobster's head into the floor and watching his brains spill onto it.
Hotline Miami definitely takes a page from movies like Pulp Fiction and Drive in the sense that when violence occurs, it is both raw and exhilarating. You can see the carnage about the unfold the moment you enter a building, and the anticipation is so great it often leads to your doom.
This 80s crime drama casts you as the mysterious killer, charged with murdering enemies across corrupted Miami, Florida. The inclusion of different animal masks may imbue the character with certain advantages (more guns lying around, for example) while the controls couldn't be simpler, and with so many weapons littering each environment (knives, guns, pool cues and pipes to name a few), there's always the opportunity to improve the odds despite being outnumbered.
Good thing, because you'll have more important things on your mind, like figuring out the best way to kill four armed men in a room, taking out the dog patrolling the hallway or disposing of snipers. Each stage asks you to basically kill everyone to proceed and there are infinite lives. This is ultimately the best and worst thing about the game. On the positive side, you immediately continue upon death. The negative? It may take upwards of 50 tries to advance; it messes with your head.
As for the bloodshed, the level of carnage packed into such a simplistic-looking game never ceases to impress. Wounded enemies slowly crawl along floors, geysers of blood erupt from fresh wounds, body parts get destroyed and you'll watch (in joy, horror) as the homicidal "hero" slaughters targets a number of ways. Just keep in mind the same will happen to you early and often. Bad guys aren't necessarily the brightest, but they move alarmingly fast and have excellent aim. If you think someone carrying a machine gun beats two dudes with baseball bats every time, prepare for a rude awakening.
Wrap it up with a bizarre story and a cool 80s vibe, and Hotline Miami is one of PlayStation Vita's guiltiest pleasures, a blood-soaked, retro-inspired homage to the most difficult video games ever conceived. So long as you're of age, it comes highly recommended.
Review code provided by Devolver Digital.
What's Hot:Plenty of gore packed into a retro-flavored package, simple controls, utilizing different masks, intense gameplay.
What's Not:Excessive continues.