Level 4 is not the hardest level of Dennaton’s neon-hued orgy of sado-masochistic violence, and RPS’ official Best In Show at Rezzed, Hotline Miami. Oh, not by a long shot. It’s just the one that, once I finally beat it, made me feel like a god. I had a plan. I made that plan work. Every single action I took, every single movement I made, was with surgical precision. A dozen men died, and their little dog too. I never knew their names. I never cared to know their names. I didn’t even know why they had to die. I just knew they had to die.
They died. I didn’t. That’s my story. The greatest story ever told. I will tell it to you with pictures and swearing.
This is level 4. This is my route through it. This is what I’m up against. This is who I’m up against. Just me, a man in a sports jacket, wearing a chicken mask, carrying no weapons. If I’m shot, stabbed, punched or mauled even once, I’m dead.
(Patchwork effect due to map being stitched together from multiple screenshots. Click for a full-size, unannotated version).
I’ve failed oh so many times. That’s Hotline Miami. It does not forgive error. Ever. But every failure and every death did not crush me – it made me stronger. It helped me build my plan. Oh yes, I have a plan. My plan will be flawless. This is what happened, step by step. Follow the numbers.
1. Fuck #1
Straight through the front door, rush right to this guy. Right to his face. He’ll see me coming, no doubt about that. The trick is to make sure he doesn’t have time to stop me. He’s got a baseball bat, I’ve got nothing except the element of surprise. If I delay or mistime my punch by even a fraction of a second, I’m dead.
I grab him before he can swing. Pummel him where he stands. DEAD.
Now I have a baseball bat. Now all you other fucks are dead too – you just don’t know it yet.
2. The fucking dog
I have to move before Fuck #1’s shattered body hits the ground, or this fucking dog will have my throat. If it sees me, I’m dead. One swift movement, I scoop up the bat, turn to face where I came from, runrunrun out of the corridor the dog’s patrolling, turn again. I’m only just in position as the dog, the scent of Fuck #1’s blood in its nostrils, rounds the corner, meets me and my bat. The last thing that goes through its head is its own face.
I take a second. Breathe. Move.
3. Fucks #2 & 3
This is where it can all go wrong, in a heartbeat. Two of these fucks, both with shotguns. They don’t know I’m here, haven’t heard a thing, because melee kills don’t make enough noise, but they might leave this room any second. Got to move again. Take a leap of faith. Charge straight into the room, swinging free. If either has time to squeeze off a shot, I’m dead.
I’m not dead. They are. Some might call it a miracle. I call it necessary.
Wait, one’s not dead. He’s on the ground, dazed from the battering, but he’s about to get up, pick up his gun, end me. No, this is not how I die. I crouch over him, fists raised. It only takes a moment.
Now I have a gun. Now it’s on.
4. Fucks #4,5,6,7,8 & 9
Two shotguns, in fact. One has two shells, the other has six. If I run out of bullets during the next phase of The Plan, I’m dead.
Time to make some noise.
I turn back into the corridor, the two-shell gun in my hands. I aim at nothing, and fire. I turn again, run back to the room, swap the now one-shell (and thus a deadly liability) gun for the six-cartridge model, swivel to face the door, and wait. The trap is set.
From below-left and from upper-right, they come running, wielding guns and knives and iron bars. Six men. Six shots. Can’t miss, not even once. Can’t let them shoot first, not even once. Or I’m dead.
Well, whaddaya know? Only took five shots. That’s what they get for all rushing me at once.
I try not to think about what might have happened if any of Fucks #10-14 had also heard my honeytrap shot.
Now I have a machinegun. Now I am become death.
5. Fuck #10
GLASS WINDOW, MOTHERFUCKER. You don’t even get to see me before I kill you.
6. Fucks #11, 12, 13 & 14
FUCK YOU I’VE GOT A MACHINEGUN NOW YOU FUCKING FUCKS and there’s enough bullets for all of you. But I won’t waste a shot, I swear. It wouldn’t do to let myself become so inelegant now. I’m outnumbered still, four to one, and if any one of those gets a line of sight before I do, I’m dead.
Move and shoot, move and shoot, move and shoot. This is my Alamo.