REVIEW – In my opinion, Hotline Miami is a type of a game that is hard to not like – of course, everyone has a different taste in gaming and nobody can actually like one certain game, but maybe Dennaton Games’ product is the one that while still dividing the community, it still manages to get some respect from the dislikers’ side… and I think the sequel ended up being better than the first game.
For the first look, Hotline Miami 2 might not look that complex, it might even be titled as a Commodore 64 game. However, it isn’t one, it’s actually a 2015 game, which has the same style as the first Hotline Miami’s: there’s no photorealistic graphics here running on 1920X1080 resolution, instead, the Swedish team wanted to go for an unmatchable ambience.
Put your mask on
That amazing ambience, which is a combination of several different things simultaenously: the retro look is pushed forwards by the oldish sounding, yet still brilliant background music, the amount of challenge (which can be even set higher!) and… that brutality. This quartet made the first game pretty much a masterpiece, which was fine tuned even further in the sequel.
The masks are still present here and yes, they set the gameplay style: you can have a guy that can roll to avoid gunfire, someone else can wield two, separately controllable SMGs, or hell, how about a OHKO punching guy? You’ll likely find your favorite, but for that, you will have to play. A lot. (Especially because there are no less than thirteen characters in the game, but that number is lucky this time around.)
Your hand isn’t held in this game. You’re pretty much put down to the entrance door and good luck, go clear the entire floor to reach the next checkpoint. Did the last survivor blast your face off? Too bad, you’re back to the checkpoint. Did the first enemy punch you out? Back to the checkpoint.
And yet, this doesn’t feel like frustrating difficulty as you keep tackling the same thing on and on. Sure, I also have cursed here and there, but I managed to progress in the end. There’s a healthy amount of challenge and nowadays, it’s really a good thing. It should be followed suit by others – this is also what makes Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number brilliant. It doesn’t just look great, but it’s also challenging (and boy it feels good to clear out scenes!).
Rebirth under the neon lights
Hotline Miami 2 is still stylish. It still has that… should I say, drug-induced, hallucinogenic visuals and I admit: I like it, despite me having a really inside-out taste in gaming, which makes me wonder how I didn’t lose my mind yet. You can get used to it. There will be people who will not like it, but it’s just like the gameplay: you can get addicted to it and from that point, there’s no stop. Building up those combos are simply a pleasure and not a chore, it really feels (and looks!) good to rip through those enemies. This is why I say that good gaming is rewarded: beginners won’t give up easily and even experts can get their slice of challenge on Hard difficulty – this is why I said you can set that bar higher! – to get those points up high.
How interesting, when I wrote last time in Outlast: Whistleblower that it’s rare to see a DLC/sequel to function both as a prequel and sequel, I got my humble pie eaten now, as Hotline Miami 2 does just exactly that. It’s played at the end of 1991, when Jacket gets sentenced, going on a rampage killing some Russian mob members… and then, we get into a rampage, but who and why are we killing, well… I shouldn’t spoil this!
“Hotline Miami 2 is still stylish. It still has that… should I say, drug-induced, hallucinogenic visuals”
In terms of audiovisuals, the impossible happened: refining the first game’s quality. Despite the oldie looks, the game looks more detailed. And the music: you have to hear these. Go on Youtube and look up the soundtrack. (Collectors can listen to it on a vinyl, lucky for them!)
Get it it while it’s… hot!
For negatives, I’d say that there’s still going to be people not even giving it a chance. I don’t say that the community is not ready for this kind of a game yet, but it’s still a divider. It didn’t catch me there, because I still say that this game is genial. It’s definitely worth a 9 out of 10 – controls, audio, graphics… maybe the story is a bit weak, but still, it’s a great game. I can only recommend it, especially if you liked the first game!
+ Still edgy gameplay
+ Drug-induced audiovisuals
+ More mask, more styles
– Graphic whores might not like it
– The story is not its strong point
– It might still be dividing people
Editor: Devolver Digital
Genres: action, top down
Publication: February 2015