That’s the main thrust of this article, its central conceit. I don’t even have to defend that claim- it’s just objectively, empirically awesome. Let’s all high five in agreement and rock out with some righteous air guitar solos! SQUEEDLYBAMBLYMEEDLYMOWWWOWWWMEEDLYMYOOOWWWW!
But I should probably throw some journalism up in this bitch, so let’s talk a little bit how…
HOTLINE MIAMI IS A PUZZLE GAME!
‘Son, that sh*t cray’ may be the response from many a disbeliever. And it’s only natural. Kanye’s a popular artist. And Hotline Miami has limited gunplay, a simple yet intuitive melee system and a deceptively robust stealth game in operation. It’s got modifying Masks to cater for your preferred play-style and a metric butt-tonne of violence to appeal to that reptilian brain so prominent in gamers. (Face facts, folks! We’re all monsters.)
And I’m not denying that. Hell, all that sugar coating is what makes Hotline Miami such a visceral gut-punch. But distil it down to base elements, and Dennaton games has served us up a fancy version of Pac-Man.
Your objective, clear the room(s) from an isometric perspective using specific environmental pick-ups without getting tagged. Sound familiar. At its heart Hotline Miami presents a set of pre-defined rules, an isometric environment, a tangible objective and the tools to achieve it. Strip out the gore, insanity, obvious tributes to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive and that saturating, funk-tastic 80’s vibe and you’d have a less stylish, less feral, but ultimately no less addictive IP.
And for me, that’s Hotline Miami’s defining characteristic – It’s Addictive.
Damn Addictive. Cray Cray Addictive. We’re talking Angry Birds. We’re talking Candy Crush. We’re talking TETRIS levels of addiction folks.
This addiction is fuelled by Hotline Miami’s heaven sent instantaneous reloads. It’s not the first game to implement these – even in the AAA sphere, the likes of Prince of Persia and Mirror’s Edge used insta-respawns to great effect.
Thus, the frustration endemic in similarly punishing games (yes I mean YOU, Dark Souls, you dirty bastid) never takes hold in Hotline Miami. It never has a chance to. No sooner than your throat gets torn out by a ravenous Doberman of your face bets blown apart by the world’s most effective shotty, you’ll be thrust back into the fray, strategizing, experimenting, juggling tactics on the fly.
And it’s precisely because Dennaton treats its gameplay as a puzzle, but its surrounding tone as cerebral hyper violent pulp that makes wee little Hotline Miami more valuable to videogaming than ANY incoming Next-Gen title.
Yes. I went there. What you gonna do? Keep reading hopefully, coz I’m about to qualify that absurd statement.
Sinfully ignoring that smooth 60FPS frame rate and that seriously BANGIN’ soundtrack, Hotline Miami looks like 8 Bits of nothing. Conversely the likes of infamous: Second Son or Metal Gear Solid V don’t JUST look like they were developed using superior tech, the contrast is enough to make you believe the later were developed by a race of super-smart silicon based life forms!
But look at the difference in terms of good old fashioned ingenuity!
Hotline Miami intentionally (perhaps, even, to prove a point) looks like crud. But it takes simple elements (isometry, twin-stick UI, line of sight, one hit kills, trial and error) yet seamlessly intertwines them, until each system, each mechanic, each and every input informs the gameplay, progresses the narrative and maintains a consistently frenetic pace.
Inversely, the NEW inFamous looks just like the OLD inFamous but with sexier visuals, and Metal Gear Solid V’s big talking point is the addition of a sandbox…
Which was a big deal when Rockstar did it… 13 years ago…
Yes, yes, ‘Hi. My name is Jack and I’m a Next-Gen cynic.’
But come on! Far as I can see, the evidence suggests the only thing the next-generation of console gaming has to offer is even more gorgeouser visuals.
Still dunno who the lady is... Enlarge
Thank god for Dennaton Games then. Those twisted sickos have our backs. Or more aptly, our brains. See, they want to challenge us. Not only our reflexes or our analytical skills, but our very preconceptions about what is REALLY important in game design.
Sure, they gift-wrap their efforts in the illusion of tasteless, gag-inducing, nightmare-fuelling grotesquery. But deep down they realize no-one can resist a good puzzle.