When a video game name-drops Miami, it's worth checking out. When positive reviews from game shows and journalists start coming in, it's worth a write-up. When a game is this deliciously violent and fun, it's worth an emphatic purchase.
Dennaton Digital serves up Hotline Miami, a top-down action game (and you'd be forgiven for drawing instant original Grand Theft Auto comparisons when you hear that). The game sets you up as some neon Tyler Durden/Don Johnson hybrid, kicking, punching, and shooting your way through an alternate 1989-era Miami.
The game stands on its own, but it's an added treat for Miamians to play through familiar places that look wholly unfamiliar (the prelude has you bloodying up the Brickell Metro station, of all things).
Your missions are given through your answering machine, a story element that Dennaton has taken into the "real" world: There's a phone number set up for you to call in and leave your own thoughts on the game -- (786-519-3708). Shout-out to the 786 area code. Miami all the way.
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The top-down 8-bitness of the game immediately smacks of simplicity--but the game is anything but simple and easy. It's best to get the lay of the land of each level before you enter it, in order to ensure that you can chain your kills together effectively, avoid the one-shot killers, and earn the most points from your bloodbath. Weapon choice is also important--guns may do plenty of damage, but the sound will alert nearby enemies. Sometimes a crowbar--or a samurai sword, or a frying pan--is just the thing. All of this strategizing occurs while bathed in a pretty sick soundtrack.
Who are you? What's your purpose? What's up with the masks you wear throughout the game? You'll just have to play and find out. I am not going to spoil the fun, and at only $9.99, the game is well worth the playthrough.