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January 08, 2014

Hotline Miami: Bloody Review


...You might not want to pick up the phone on this one...

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg (Head Writer)

Verdict: MA (Mature Gamers Only)

Release Date: October 2012

Developer: Dennaton Games, Abstraction Games

Publisher: Devolver Digital

Platforms: PlayStation 3, PS Vita, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux.

Genre: Action


Areas of Concern:

Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

NOTE: The entire game takes place from a top-down perspective and the graphics are made up of pixel art, which tones down the realism somewhat.

--The game contains many sequences of over the top violence, with huge splashes and squirts of blood. Enemies can have their heads beaten against the floors, depicting a burst of blood as their skulls crack open. Blood pools out in large amounts on the floors beneath them.

-You can also kick them in the face, with their heads cracking open and blood spraying. Some of the violence involves dogs.

--Knives and swords can be used in combat; bloody cuts are shown across the fallen enemies bodies with large amounts of blood spraying out. You can also cut them in half, with a short blood spurt. Up close, your character can slice their necks several times and decapitate them.

--A man's eyes are gouged out, with blood streaming out, then bursting out in large amounts.

--A restrained man can be blown up; we see a large explosion, and the people surrounding are reduced to a bloody pile of gore, and a huge blood smear is shown where he exploded.

--You can use blunt objects to beat enemies with; huge squirts of blood are shown, with part of their heads exploding. You can also beat them whilst they're down, causing their heads to explode, blood shown. At certain points, blood squirts out of the top of their heads as they writhe around in pain, and eventually die.

--You can shoot enemies with guns like pistols and shotguns; portions of torsos and heads are blown away in a bloody mess and Intestines spill out of stomachs.

--You can throw boiling hot water on enemies' faces, which turn red as they struggle around, and eventually die.

Context of Violence: Shock Value

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--We see a woman in her underwear lying on a bed, next to a pair of handcuffs, a syringe, and cameras. It is implied that she was abused.

--A woman is shown nude; we see this from above, but the angle obscures any details.

Context of Sex/Nudity: Fanservice

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Frequent Uses of F**k, S**t, Wh**e, Pr**k, A*s, and D**n.

--God's name is used in vain.

Context of Language: Grittiness (The language is used to accentuate the game's already gritty atmosphere).

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--A Bonus Level in the game shows a woman lying on an altar, surrounding by candles and the one-eyed pyramid symbol. A man says something about "Dark Lord", but is interrupted (The scene is played for laughs).

Context of Spiritual Content: Black Magic (The game includes a vaguely Satanic ritual as a joke in a bonus level. This may still be disturbing to some).

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--One of the chapter titles is "Overdose", and in one chapter we see a syringe, possibly used for drugs.

--Your character visits a bar in one scene and gets a drink, which is not shown. Another man stands against a wall, and appears to be spilling out his drink in drunkenness.

--A few people are shown smoking cigarettes.

Context of Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco Usage: Atmospheric (As mentioned before, the game is very gritty and the drug references and alcohol/smoking are used to accentuate it).

Gross Stuff/Gore:

--A man is shown urinating from the top; we see the fluids, but no nudity.

-Sometimes when enemies are killed, a yellow patch can be seen on their pants.

--A man throws up on the ground, which is shown in detail.

Scary Stuff:

--More disturbing than creepy: A man sits next to his dead dog, who has been shot in the head, and strokes it, obviously in shock.
Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

Player Character: This ain't no place for a hero, believe me! Your character is a hitman, who, in spite of clearly feeling remorse for his victims, continues to slay everyone in his path to get what he needs. 

At one point, though, your character does show compassion for a minor character, taking her in and caring for her.

Game: The Morality of the actual game is considerably higher, as the extreme violence is used to raise questions about video game morality.

Morality Type: Life of Crime (As previously mentioned, your character is a hitman who is more than willing to kill all in his path

Review of Game:


In the face of hand-holding and restrictive scripted sequences, Hotline Miami dares to be different in it's old-school approach to gaming, all coming down to one aspect: The more you die, the more you learn.

Hotline Miami is one of those games where you have to kill fast or be killed fast.

Gameplay: (Death is a Learning Experience).

The game takes place from a top-down perspective, and features your character traversing through levels at a frantic pace. This is contrasted by the high difficulty, requiring players to memorise levels and enemy positions until it comes off like clockwork.

You start off the level with only your righty and your lefty. You choose from several masks which you can acquire by scavenging through levels and after completing stages. This allows you to customise the experience somewhat, with each individual mask offering quirks that set them apart.

After the mask has been pulled over your head, the level begins. Players quickly have to find a weapon, and what a wide range of weapons you have: Katanas, pots, knives, lead pipes, pool cues, guns, the always effective baseball bat and so much more...

While the library of morbid tools may sound like, ahem, overkill, players need all the help they can get against several extremely effective foes. These are the usual bodyguards/mooks across all games and movies, but with one brutal difference: They kill instantly.

Quick reaction skills are paramount to overcoming the tough, grueling stages. After you have cleared the level, players are rewarded with short but necessary quiet sections, showing our hero trying to adjust back to everyday life. Which leads us to the next surprisingly solid aspect:

Story: Disappointment (And why that's a good thing).

Hotline Miami presents us with a pulpy, no holds-barred action story full of surprises and betrayal. While the story may not make sense instantly, it will make more sense as you go along.

The star of the show is the unnamed Jacket, who receives anonymous phone calls ordering him to assassinate people. All goes well at first, but the assassinations begin to drain him, making him more and more disconnected from reality.

He will eventually have to dial the Hotline, and get to the bottom of the bloody conspiracy....

Hotline Miami spins a good yarn, even trying to make players question their morality. While it raises interesting questions, it fails to provide any adequate answers.

Not that it's a bad thing, mind you. The story is designed to disappoint you with it's straightforward ending. The ending can be altered to give you more answers by collecting little purple blocks found once in each stage where Jacket wreaks havoc.

I won't spoil anything for you, but there's a hint. You can thank me later.

AudioVisual: A Lurid, Bloody Presentation.

The first thing you notice immediately after booting up Hotline Miami is it's gore. Splashes of blood, stray limbs, and massive amounts of gore are all over the place. This is not a game for the faint of heart.

The visual style is comprised mainly of pixel art and some vaguely psychedelic backdrops. The style of "Miami" is what sets it apart. Everything is drenched in retro cheesiness.

I can't begin to imagine how much work went into the pixel art, especially when you consider that every pixel had to be crafted by hand. This is one game you can scale up as much as you want and never have to worry about "pixellation", haha!

See what I did there? Because everything is already pixellated and-OKAY, MOVING ON:

Quality Verdict: Amazing (A)

While it may not be the most relaxing game in the world, completing Hotline Miami is an honest achievement, showing your commitment to your game (no pun intended). While the violence may offend many, the game is undoubtedly a memorable experience.

Conclusion:


It's an understatement to say the violence in Hotline Miami is of a graphic nature. Let's just say that this is one of the most graphically violent games ever made. Yes, "ever made".

While my first time playing this game was a very enjoyable experience, and I was able to overlook the buckets of hyper-stylistic gore, on subsequent playthroughs, the game started to nauseate me.

Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, is left to the imagination when it comes to the violence. From the huge splashes of blood, bent legs, terrified expressions as the last bit of fluid drains from your victim's brains and even urine stains on the pants of bludgeoning victims, no ground is left uncovered.

And you know what, I'm okay with that. Why? Because my issue wasn't with how graphic the game was. It was with how futile it was. It didn't lead to anything. It was unsatisfying. And that's exactly how it should be.
The game doesn't provide satisfying answers, because there are no satisfying answers. Violence is an incredibly upsetting force, and it's no different here.
Proceed at your own risk, but just know that you will be questioning the morality of the game by the end of it all. When the last skull is blown open, when the last victim is disemboweled, you will be left wanting. And for once, that's a good thing.

Verdict: 18+



For Extremely Graphic Pixel Art Violence and Gore.

Outro:

Ah, it's good to be back in action...I'll see you guys Friday with a new article. Tune in then!

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