Hotline Miami is an extremely puzzling game.
Well, no, that’s not quite right. Hotline Miami is a fairly straightforward game; I’ve played it for just under three hours, finished it, and have a reasonably good hold on what the game is about now. It’s a top-down murder simulator with extreme psychotic/psychedelic tendencies, a bloody and warped window into yesteryear that would probably make me feel quite ill if the graphics weren’t intentionally primitive enough to make it clear you’re playing a video game. What I don’t understand about Hotline Miami is the amount of critical buzz it’s getting. It’s one of those games which crops up every now and again; one of the ones which makes certain stylistic choices that cause games journalists to perceive it as something rather more arty than your average game, and consequently abandon their critical faculties in favour of writing the most godawful adulatory purple prose you ever did see, which is why most Hotline Miami reviews read something like this:
You slam the door into a guard walking by it. He falls to the floor, stunned briefly, at which point you jump onto his chest and beat him to death. You grab the crowbar he dropped, sprint to a wall to remain out of sight. You watch and wait as two more guards patrol up ahead. One has a gun, the other a bat. When the latter has his back to you, you sprint fowards, throwing the crowbar as you go to stun the one with the gun. You punch the second one to the ground, grab the crowbar then beat them both to death with it when they stand up again.