Welcome To Miami – A Look At ‘Hotline Miami’

One of the games that stood out at yesterday’s Rezzed event was ‘Hotline Miami’.

It’s the next game from Jonatan “Cactus” Söderström – Google him and, more importantly, his games. It looks bananas.

Mainly because it is.

The premise is pretty simple. You receive a message on your answer phone (it’s 1989) which tells you to go and commit some serious murder. This boils down to you, from an over-head view, needing to clear out floors of what I can only assume are gang members. Drug dealing gang members, so you’re safe on a moral level. A press release states;

“Step into the neon-soaked underground of 1980s Miami as bizarre messages on your answering machine seem to be urging you to commit terrible acts of violence – but will you obey? Hotline Miami overflows with raw brutality and skull crushing close combat as you find yourself outgunned and using your wits to choreograph your way through impossible situations. An unmistakable visual style, a driving soundtrack, and a surreal plot that will have you question your own thirst for blood. Bash and blast through over 20 multiscreen levels with 35 unique weapons and collect 25 game-altering masks in one of the darkest and most unusual independent games on the scene.”

Using WASD you move up, down, left and right, as you do, and with the mouse you aim your gun or get your character to face in the right direction to make the swinging of crowbars, axes, knives and scissors that much more effective. You’ll have to be quick though, once the enemy sees you, it’s on. One shot deaths are a two-way street and mean you need to be lightning fast and seriously accurate with your attacks.

The game has an arcade quality thanks to the speed at which it moves. Huge numbers fill the screen with every kill and multipliers await the best dispatchers of gang members. One feature on your side in this endeavour is the environment, or more specifically the doors. Swing these open at the right moment and you’ll knock the enemies to the ground, leaving them ripe for the picking, stabbing or stomping.

You may have gathered that the game’s pretty damn brutal. True it’s presented in a low-fi, low resolution fashion, but it doesn’t stop the pixelated guts spilling out of stomaches any less OTT. Moving on with the presentation, everyone’s in pastel colours giving the whole game a ‘Miami Vice’ feel. The soundtrack’s fresh out of the ‘Drive’ school of amazing soundtracks meaning there’s a hugely polished feel to it, and whilst you may be getting slaughtered on the screen, at least your ears are still being treated to some quality sounds.

To wrap this up, I’d have to compare this game to Super Meat boy in the way it rewards quick movements, is brutally punishing though always fair. Every time I died (many times) it was always my fault. Bad aim, off timing, failing to spot an enemy, it was always me. This quickly led to a ‘one more go’ loop that I can see countless others falling into.

The final game should be out before the end of the year, with Mac, PC and console releases on the cards. Look out for it.

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