Hotline Miami: Best Game 2012?

Shooting away of a human skull has never been so fun. Beating people to death with golf clubs has hardly ever felt more satisfying. Hotline Miami is destined to become one of those initially indie titles, which later came to define the mainstream gaming industry. Mighty doses of adrenaline and endorphines delivered by the game into our bloodstream, cultural associations with the old GTA titles and early Tarantino films, and, of course, a thick topping of the 1980-s nostalgia: that's only an incomplete list of reasons to try this fiendishly game.

To start reading this article, please make sure you loudspeakers or headphones are on and press the Play button on the Soundcloud widget below. What you must be hearing now is the Hotline Miami soundtrack, the best one I have heard in years. I strongly recommend you to read the article only to this music, otherwise about 50% of its effect gets lost.

The basic mechanics of the game are as simple and straightforward as a hillbilly's language. You come in and kill everyone. The view is top down. The difficulty level is high. One hit is usually enough to bring down your enemy. Unfortunately, one hit is enough to bring you down too. Don't hope for a jolly Manhunt-like massacre: walking through the game will require possessing at least rudiments of the tactical thinking and, more importantly, tons of luck.

The safest gameplay screenshot we could show you

The game story first seems to be even more unsophisticated, but in the upshot, it turns out to be way more complex and bewildering than any other major title this year. Your character lives in Miami of the 1980-s; not the real one but rather that Miami we think people lived in back then: drugs, violence, and neon, neon, neon. This dude is a looney, wearing animal rubber masks, driving a gull-wing car, and killing people on a wholesale basis. Apart from that, he doesn't seem to be leading a life rich in events, except that now and again he receives weird calls from strangers who tell him a new address he needs to „visit“. That's basically it.

A less safe gameplay screenshot

Now, you might wonder why on earth would everybody call the game good? Well, because it's good. Boiling the mechanics down to the very basic level has brought back into the game what we all have been missing in the big AAA gaming titles for so long. Hotline Miami is a game you play and not a game playing you. Just compare it with Spec Ops: The Line, a big multi-million project delving into researching the very nature of violence and bloodlust in humans. Put side by side with Hotline Miami, the AAA story by Yager Development and 2K Games looks shallow. It lacks deep insights into how the violence works in video games and the way it unfolds in the real world. When playing Hotline Miami, you'll get lots of them if you keep your eyes open. They are not served you on a silver platter and chewed over for you by a caring developer. The two Swedish guys who developed Hotline Miami are anything else but caring developers. Just to prove the point: Hotline Miami is their most conventional and sane game so far.

The game's plot is bizarre and surreal

The fragmentary character of the story and its unpretentious gameplay join in a tight knot of fun and eureka moments when you send the brain of another pixelized villain to a flight onto the next wall. Paradoxically, the game doesn't feel like glorifying the violence or glamorizing the vice as the GTA titles did. At some point, you even feel like you're on the verge of vomiting, just as your character after one of his murders. Nevertheless, this purgatory of Hotline Miami does have a point as it eventually brings you catharsis and you quit it a better and kinder person than you were before. If it's not the ultimate reason why we play video games, then I'm sorry for you.

Picture Credit: Dennaton Games, Josh Flaherty,

Do you think we really need so much violence in video games?


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I can't believe that already some moron is associating video games with the killings in the school I am sorry but video games do not lessen humanity nor do they set a condition of rightness or acceptance to killing etc. That is ridiculous and ludicrous. Any thinking human can see how ridiculous that notion is. The problems are family and mental health nothing more. The family structure fails these people as well as a society that refuses to create needed mental health checks and balances.
Any one with mental health issues or a severe family breakdown becomes disassociated with and unattached to the very society around them and when no one is paying attention to the warning signs (they are always there in hindsight) the catastrophes happen. Then a lazy and uncreative society finds the easiest to blame those things that on the outside look bad. If it were true that video games were indeed making things worse we would be seeing a huge influx of violence and in fact it is in decline you can find the facts al over the place get off your ass and do something original; like start at home and create a real family environment then start looking outside the home. We are all to blame for the killing at that school not a video game.

Reply   |   Comment by Todd  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

Hey! Thanks for posting this you creep right after the Newtown shooting massacre and promoting more and more violence!

Reply   |   Comment by Scott Radcliff  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

Who promotes violence more efficiently: me with my articles about video games giving you a chance to let off the steam or the gun lobbies persuading the nation the only solution is MORE GUNS?!!

Reply   |   Comment by Keath_Wyszynski  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

Only tick-tack-toe is allowed!

Reply   |   Comment by Danford Blitz  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

Poor boy,,,

Reply   |   Comment by Ilya Zhezlov  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

I'm completely against so much violence in games. Although some people let off steam while playing, there's a tendency that people are likely to wash games' aggression in public. Moreover, if you can so easily kill people in games, the value of life is decreasing in real life, as well.

Reply   |   Comment by Danford Blitz  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

Would you let your son play Indians and cowboys?

Reply   |   Comment by Keath_Wyszynski  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

Perhaps it's hard to realize one thing: how can you enjoy virtual violence? (It's still violence). Just for fun! Those of us (the majority I guess) who can understand it will never do something crazy like that in our real life. So my answer is Yes.

Reply   |   Comment by Antony)  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

I think the question should not be 'How can you enjoy the virtual violence?' but rather 'How can you enjoy the real violence?'
People playing the Monopoly are acting as ruthless capitalists, conquering markets and fighting with their competition. Everyone's having fun but should anyone act like this in the real life, they would be condemned as heartless indecent egoists. It means that people can enjoy this behavior playing games and stigmatize and despise it IRL. Why should violence be treated any other?

Reply   |   Comment by Ilya Zhezlov  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)