Hotline Miami Collection Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Another week, another Switch port, or so it seems. After a surprise reveal at Nintendo’s recent Indie World event, both Hotline Miami titles have landed on the hybrid console, but are these violent adventures worth revisiting?
Back in 2012, Hotline Miami took gaming’s indie scene by storm. Channeling equal parts Tarantino-esque ultraviolence and the neon-drenched aesthetic of Ryan Gosling movie “Drive” and condensing both down into a pixelated art style, it was a revelation. This commitment to distinctive visual style would mean little without equally appealing gameplay, and thankfully Hotline Miami offers that in spades.
Acting as a hitman for hire, your character dons various animal masks and works his way from floor to floor of each mission location killing enemies from a top-down perspective. The catch is that your character will be immediately killed in one hit, so planning an approach to a room before executing a plan is arguably as important as your trigger finger.
This is no twin-stick shooter, though. Players knock enemies down for melee finishing moves, steal enemy weapons and throw them once they’re out of ammo, and kick down doors to send enemies on the other side flying. Most missions offer multiple avenues of attack, and each feels rewarding to accomplish - do you use a knife, maintaining the element of surprise? Or do you kill an enemy and use his dropped assault rifle to do your dirty work? To watch an accomplished player progress is to watch a whirling dervish of death and destruction, enemies flying, baseball bats being swung and thrown, and blood everywhere. Success brings new masks, and new masks bring new bonuses.
All of this comes at a cost - Hotline Miami isn’t an easy game. Even in the early game, death can come from anywhere - an errant bullet, or an enemy that sneaks up on you. This challenge is offset by excellent checkpointing throughout, and a near instant respawn. Both of these combine to allow for plenty of experimentation. This “trial and error” style of play might not be for everyone, but it’s sure to heighten the reward of those that take their time to plan and execute complex mechanisms of murder.
Hotline Miami 2 was originally released in 2015 and offers the same finely tuned gameplay with new masks and a variety of characters. Each of these offers new abilities, like a character able to roll to dodge gunfire and one able to use two weapons at once. Each one changes and tweaks gameplay, and while the game’s convoluted story about copycat fans of the original game’s protagonist weighs it down it feels like more Hotline Miami - and that can only be a good thing, even if some levels feel too large at times.
All of this is to say nothing of one of the franchise’s strongest tenets, that being the soundtrack. From mind bending synths to minimalist beeps and boops, Hotline Miami and its sequel are worth returning to time after time for the aural feast each offer.