Hotline Miami: Me vs Level 4

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.




  1. Hoaxfish says:

    All those fucks, Horatio Cain is gonna need one of those ultra-violet lights

    • caddyB says:

      More like ultra-violence lights, amirite?

    • Shadowcat says:

      Off-putting, frankly Alec. I stopped reading at about #2, decided to post this, and now I’m outta here. Maybe the game’s good, but I simply don’t want to read what you’ve written about it.

  2. Quasar says:

    Shit, nice work. I spent about twenty minutes trying to beat this level at Rezzed, but the second lot of fucks always got me. Fucks.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      There was a man who spent at least half an hour repeatedly failing at a level where all you have is a briefcase, because he was seemingly unable to read the bit of the screen where the game tells you in size 36 font “YOU NEED TO PRESS SPACE OVER THEM WHEN THEY ARE ON THE GROUND TO KILL THEM.”

      The one time where he stayed alive, he spent about ten minutes just whacking them down as they got up again before dying.

      • Quasar says:

        Haha, I think I actually remember seeing that. So many people totally failed to read the messages in-game :/

        • amidcnb says:

          Today’s deals! HD waterproof sports watch (8G memory, movement activated, hidden cameras, digital video recorders) price reduction of 20% 59,99 $! link to

        • LionsPhil says:

          Some people can get surprisingly tunnel-visioned in games. Anything on the HUD just becomes peripheral noise when they’re focusing on something in the game world.

          • Quasar says:

            A) Shut up, spam bot.

            B) True, and Hotline Miami is definitely a game that requires concentration. Might be something that they need to look at, although once you’ve learned something like that you don’t really need to be reminded. It’s also insanely addictive, and I can’t wait to play it again.

  3. brianisbrilliant says:


    • EeryPetrol says:

      No you don’t want this. You want your own private writer to write the magnum opus on your epic gaming adventures. And to spread your tales far and wide so that others will revel in awe. But I will beat you to it. One day.

  4. mrmonkington says:

    And the whole time the screeching, pounding techno soundtrack for this level makes you feel sick with apprehension. It’s just phenomenal.

    You can listen to it here: link to

    • mrmonkington says:

      Actually, I think that’s on the next level. Oh well ;)

    • caddyB says:

      That’s some good music.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I happened to be listening to Lovelock while reading this. Works quite well.

    • bglamb says:

      I kept coming back to this stand at Rezzed for the music. They had set up some speakers to make it the perfect spectator game.

    • Enso says:

      Thanks for linking that. Loved the game and this level. I’ve been looking for the music. Really looking forward to playing it soon.

  5. Dreamhacker says:

    That was fuckin’ intense.

  6. Crimsoneer says:

    Do we have any idea as to release/availability? Or is this one of those mythical indie unicorns us non-press people never get to play?

  7. Jarenth says:

    “The last thing that goes through its head is its own face.”

    Sometimes, Alec, what you create is pure art. This is one of those times.

  8. Gnoupi says:

    It’s pixelized, with weird old colors…. Yet the depiction of deaths is disturbing me. I don’t know why. I played Bulletstorm mostly giggling. I played Madworld seeing it as rather stylish.

    And yet those screenshots are disturbing for me.

    Maybe it’s the way blood is omnipresent in places where you would expect it (a puddle under a bludgeoned head, typically, or splashes on the walls).

    Maybe it’s because of the dog. Somehow murdering digital humans is ok with me, but animal cruelty, even digital is still highly disturbing.


    • Creeping Death says:

      There’s a wonderful moment in what I believe is level 3 where you gouge out a man’s eyes at the end. It’s wonderfully cringeworthy.

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      Well one of the reason is that you’re a huge baby, and the second one is that you’re an asshole

  9. Inglourious Badger says:

    And I thought Alec was the nice one!

    “Any of you fucking pricks MOVE and I’ll execute every last motherfucking one of you!”

  10. paranoydandroyd says:

    It’s amazing how I can go from just shy of unaware of something to craving it more than anything in the time it takes to read a simple, profanity-laced article.

  11. JFS says:

    Yeah, artful violence – because Stupid Violence Sucks ™!

  12. caddyB says:

    I fucking want to play this now, else I’ll fuck all you fucks to fucking death.

  13. HaVoK308 says:

    Can we get a Motherfucking release date?

  14. Didero says:

    If I’m being honest, I’m not sure why this won the coveted RPS Game Of The Show Rezzed 2012 Award (TM) over the other games.

    Gunpoint does artful murder more elegantly and more forgivingly, I think. And puzzle-sneaking too.
    And Prison Architect, the runner-up for the also-coveted Audience Award Rezzed 2012 (TM), seems like a far more original game than this.
    I also like the art style for both games better, but that’s personal.
    The other games I don’t know too much about and/or don’t care about, so I can’t compare those.
    Maybe I’m just getting a bit tired of shooting games though.

    Still, the article was a fun read :)

    • HaVoK308 says:

      Subjectivity? RPS awards are given out based on their “personal” favorite. It still cracks me up that so many believe there is some form of objectivity or absolute truth when concerning media/entertainment.

      • Gnarf says:

        Which is a bit like saying that it was their favorite because it was their favorite.

        I think Didero was just wondering why this was their favorite rather than some other game.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          It’s because it was such a surprise. If they had seen previous builds and played little demos before the reveal at REZZED, it wouldn’t have won. Also, probably important that it was kind of a REZZED exclusive.

  15. Jesse L says:

    Nice and fitting format Alec, I think we’re all pumped to have animals scream at us and then go kill people.

    All my game training has been preparing me for this moment.

    Also: if playing this game can turn a mild-mannered game reviewer into Robert Florence, what does it turn Robert Florence into?

  16. Cut says:

    +480Pts if you can guess what it is before hitting the link…

    link to

    PS and -48,000,000Pts if you post the answer here afterwards… (if you say you got it right, we’ll believe you – promise… ;))

  17. Unaco says:

    If only you could talk to these fucks.

  18. Jesse L says:

    Does anyone have a recommendation for an awesome and/or ultraviolent webgame or similar to hold us over until this comes out?

  19. TailSwallower says:

    I want this game so badly.

    With indie games you can almost just hold out for the inevitable PWYW bundle, but both this and Gunpoint will be purchased as soon as they’re available.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      arguably that’s the beauty of indie games… their release price is already within my “bargain, buy now” zone, which most big name titles need -75% off to even get near (thank you Steam sales)

      That indie game still have discount sales on top of their already low pricing it makes it very hard to pass up the real stand-outs.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Dang, this game sounds gosh-darned swell.

  21. lazer says:

    it sorta reminds me of this link to

  22. wodin says:

    In screenshot 2, there is something deeply disturbing about the smashed in fellas head. It seems to have been split in two or he was the elephant man. Whatever it is looks rather nasty. Infact the more I look at it the worse it becomes…..

  23. westyfield says:

    Would someone care to explain to me what this game is? You run through a building murderising dudes and swearing a lot?

    • Dominic White says:

      That’s pretty much it! From what I can gather, it’s a very high-tension tactical arcade shooter. You’re very fragile and die as quickly as any of the enemies, so you need to plan a perfect hit on each level.

      • westyfield says:

        Ok, cheers. Couldn’t really work out how the game was played from the screenshots other than that it was top-down and retro as balls.

      • blind_boy_grunt says:

        sounds a bit like this does to commando and chaos engine-like games, what super meatboy did to platformers. Or it’s just gta1without an open world, either way can’t wait

  24. Unaco says:


    Surprised no one has posted this yet.

  25. mondomau says:

    This is by far and away the best piece of journalism I have ever seen on RPS. Where can I nominate it for one of those awards you were talking about? Preferably as swearily as possible….

  26. Jimbo says:

    I can’t decide whether to read it as Max Payne, Dwight from Sin City or the narrator guy from 300.

  27. Stackler says:

    What an eloquently written piece this fucking piece is!

  28. AshEnke says:

    I want to play this fucking game.
    When can I give them my money ?

  29. greenbananas says:

    The game is looking sick. Literally and otherwise. And I desperately need that fucking electro tune they used in the trailer. This can’t come out soon enough.

  30. John Brindle says:

    Was anyone else fucking terrified by that boss who just RUNS AT YOU THROUGH THE ENTIRE BUILDING AND NEVER STOP?

    • jayc4life says:

      OH JESUS. I played that level at Eurogamer and he punched me through the god damn building. Eventually it took me walking backwards through every room on the floor and about 6 shotgun blasts and half a Uzi clip at extremely close range to put him down.

  31. TsunamiWombat says:

    And many fucks were given that day

  32. Lobosolitario says:

    It’s like the bastard offspring of Dreamweb and GTA Vice City!

  33. Eclipse says:

    looks a bit like Hakaiman ( link to )
    and that’s a compliment, as Hakaiman is fucking fantastic.

    • Voon says:

      Honestly, this game kinda reminds me of Hakaiman too. It’s just kinda rely on less twitch shooting in comparison to Hotline Miami and more punching and throwing ‘nades accurately after cooking them. AI are a bit idiotic, too. Still good, though.

  34. ninjapirate says:

    Hmm… I’ll remember this article mostly for the profanity. Not a fan of the abundant use of the f-bomb myself, but it seems to rock plenty of other people’s boats.

    • drewski says:

      Swearing is such a hilariously stupid cultural taboo. A taboo which should be broken forcefully, frequently and with venom.

      Fuck the fucking fuckers.

      • jrodman says:

        Don’t spurn the taboo too hard, drewski. Without it, swearing wouldn’t be nearly so much fun.

  35. Snids says:

    I hope there’s an option to turn off dogs. :(

  36. Treebard says:

    “Now I have a machinegun.”

    Ho ho ho.

  37. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Does this have inventory, or at least items to use for murder, instead of just guns? I saw, somewhere on RPS, the mention of Hitman. Any Hitman like strategies for killing, or just punch shoot?

    To use a term RPS usually has in negative light, this is a “man-shoot.” Why is it cool, then? Because it looks really old? Is there strategy, or is the only real planning in your route through the house?

  38. RegisteredUser says:

    Now do this with a rape/sex sim.
    Same level of enthusiasm, screenshots and text, please.

    Then we’ll put the comment sections next to each other and compare.

    • Tiax says:

      I like how you put a sex sim and a rape sim on the same stand.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        To be fair, that’s simply mirroring the sentiment of the major productions in that area(the asian stuff).

        Are you saying in the current state of affairs it would really, really make for a major difference in reaction for either unrealistic case?

        Then again instead of going for the issue implied in my comment you went for me instead, so fuck knows what you are after.