It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.
What is it? In this 2D top-down game of hyper-violent twitch action and stealth, you play the role of a ruthless antihero who receives mysterious phone calls ordering him to put on different animal masks and drive to various locations to murder Russian mobsters.
Who made it and where can you get it? Dennaton Games first developed and released Hotline Miami for PC last year, published by Devolver Digital. This week marks the game’s PlayStation launch on PS3 and Vita, which were ported over by Abstraction Games. $9.99 will get you both PSN versions for the price of one.
How much did we play? Cleared 8 missions playing only on the Vita. Tested out cross-save just for the heck of it, and transferring progress between Vita and PS3 via the cloud was simple enough, though I only briefly replayed the game’s first mission on the PS3 before jumping back to the Vita. For additional reference, read my full review of the original PC release, which I played to completion.
Any technical concerns or hardware requirements you should know about? All appears to be well on the performance front so far. The leaderboards are working and I haven’t encountered bugs of any kind as of yet. Abstraction Games appears to have nailed the PC-to-PlayStation adaptation.
Why should you play it?
• Hardcore Retro Action: Hotline Miami’s transition from personal computer to handheld and console gaming machines has come off without a hitch, and that means PlayStation gamers are in for one of the finest old school, skill-based action experiences in gaming—and also one of the most stylish. This game is fast, twitchy and ruthlessly demanding, requiring careful map study, both mental and hand-eye agility, and strategic movement as you bust into various buildings and attempt to choreograph a ballet of murder, bloody murder, outgunned and outmanned. You will die, a lot. Unfairly so on many occasions. But through dying you will master the mechanics and begin to pull off combo killing sprees with a twisted smile on your face (hidden beneath the animal mask of course).
• Portable Ultra Violence: Maybe it’s just me, but everything that was so great about Hotline Miami on PC feels even more at home on a portable device. The quick missions. The ferocious, rapid-fire pacing. The immediacy of death and resurrection. The instant gratification of butchering a bunch of mafia thugs in a fluid sequence of analog stick and button commands. The neon-soaked pixel art. All of it just clicks so well on the Vita. Even the controls feel tighter. Touch screen elements, which include tapping enemies for lock-on targeting and dragging across the screen to view the map ahead, are welcomed additions, though admittedly the lock-on tapping increases the demand on deft finger reflexes (if you even choose to use it). Per-mission performance grades, unlockable weapons and masks galore, and online leaderboards only strengthen the desire to carry Hotline Miami around in your pocket for whenever the sudden urge to kill pixelated dudes in white suits strikes.
• Use Headphones for Maximum Impact: As the game suggests during boot up, strapping on headphones before playing is highly recommended. For those who haven’t played Hotline Miami before, audio is a driving force behind the atmosphere and attitude that powers the experience. Songs that would have been right at home at an 80s Miami dance club combine with a dark edge to create a soundtrack that makes you want to throw on a pair of acid-washed jeans and grow out a mane of big, feathery hair. And then go out and kill a bunch of people (in the game that is, not in real life). The murdering parts pack a punch too, with squishy blood splatters and thumping gun blasts that provide satisfying audible feedback as the corpses and dismembered body parts pile up. The intimacy and seclusion of listening to all this in a dark room with headphones on really sets the mood.
Parting Thoughts: If intense violence and a punishing challenge is your cup of blood-steeped tea, I think you’ll be happy dialing up a download of Hotline Miami on the nearest PlayStation gaming machine, be it in your home entertainment center or travel bag. Even if you’ve already played it on PC, there is something about the Vita version in particular that fits the game’s retro action and style like a glove. And besides, you really can’t go wrong with the added value of cross-buy and cross-save.