Avengers, assemble

Dennaton’s HOTLINE MIAMI has the style of Drive in a fever dream, the look of GTA 1, the tone of American Psycho, the presentation of 80s video nasties and the combat of a strategy game running at 100x speed. It’s out now. Here are some words about it.

You probably think Hotline Miami is about this:


It’s about what happens between this:

And this:

(Actually, I lied it, is also about this:

It’s just that that’s the destination, not the journey).

You will murder everyone, and you will leave untold bloodshed in your wake, but Hotline Miami is about the thoughts, the planning and the strategy that goes into each of those murders. It is about the split second between encounter and reaction, and what you do in it.

The GTA comparisons arrive pretty fast when HOTLINE MIAMI is mentioned, but that’s more because it evokes a hybrid of the first game and Vice City stylistically, and has a moral compass almost as broken as Donald Trump’s. If a Rockstar game must be mentioned then it should be Manhunt and its semi-stealth precision kills, though HOTLINE MIAMI’s Gameboy graphics and the breathless speed of the kills keep it largely out of gore porn territory. Hotline Miami is, however, violence porn, fetishing the fact of the kill, the successful and expert accomplishment of it, rather than the gruesome act of it.

It is not a straight-up shooter, despite what those retro graphics and all that blood might suggest. The single most important thing to know about Hotline Miami, other than that it has the best soundtrack in the history of the universe, is that you cannot rampage in it. You won’t last a quarter of a minute that way. Every action matters – every bullet fired, every knife swipe, every door opened, every corner turned, every split-second hesitated.

Hitman without the puzzles (though there are disguises, of a sort – more on that later). Thief where everyone must die. Syndicate off its head on amphetamines. HOTLINE MIAMI.

It’s not as amazing as you’ve heard.
Of course it’s as amazing as you’ve heard.

Every mission proper starts with a door. Here’s what might happen when you go through one of those doors.


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.


You rush straight through the door, hit punch just once to deck the guy, carry straight on up and do exactly the same to the other two before they have time to react. You have pressed punch three times, and three times only.
You then pick up the dropped gun, move behind a door, fire one shot into the air then wait, just for a moment.
The three stunned guards get to their feet, then rush you, with most of the other guards from this level right behind them. Your shelter means they run straight into your bullets as they round the corner.
You do not hold down fire, for you have only 24 bullets and they will all be spent on a single foe if you do this. You click fire then click fire then pause for a millisecond for the next wave to arrive then click fire then click fire then click fire then clickclickclick and you’re spent but fortunately everyone’s dead.


You open the door and you die.


You open the door, kill the first guard then another one sees you and you die.


You open the door, kill the first guard, hit the second guard with your thrown crowbar then miss your punch on the third guard and you die.


You rush straight through the door, hit punch just once to deck the guy, carry straight on up and do exactly the same to the other two before they have time to react. You have pressed punch three times, and three times only.
You then pick up the dropped gun, move behind a door, fire one shot into the air then wait, just for a moment.
The three stunned guards get to their feet, then rush you, with most of the other guards from this level right behind them. Your shelter means they run straight into your bullets as they round the corner. You twitch your cursor a centimetre upwards, miss one guard and you die.


You die.


You die.


No-one sees you, ever. No guns are fired. Everyone is stealth-killed by melee. You are a god. A dark god of patience, picosecond-perfect door-opening and perfect aim.

Every action matters. You cannot charge in firing. Well, you can, but you will die. HOTLINE MIAMI’s levels are navigational puzzles rather than battlegrounds – how to get from the entrance to the exit/next floor, killing everyone along the way, but with the minimum of actions and action. You will die. You will die. You will die. That is not failure.

The truly masterful, which I do not number among, may be able to survive on guns alone. This requires never missing a shot but never having time to aim one up perfectly – railgun reflexes, essentially, but from a top-down perspective with a limited view distance.

Another comparison: Trials 2. Like that game of motorbikes and sickening injuries, Hotline Miami is about learning a pattern of actions necessary to make it to the end of level. Encounter by encounter, you will memorise and devise a response to enemy movement patterns, what weapons they carry and who can see you from where. You will die repeatedly, but each time you do your plan takes further shape: you now know of something else that might happen, some extra factor to consider as you make your play. Move by move you learn. What to pick up and where from, when and in what direction to throw a weapon to cause a stun, which rooms can be rushed and which must be crept around. The murders are not the half of it – it’s the conundrum of how you get yourself to the point where you can enact those murders that runs through HOTLINE MIAMI’s poison veins.

And once you learn the routines and the pattern, the sense of triumph as you enact your plan without a hitch is immense. Near-every enemy in HLM is faceless, meaningless, but your kills are not: they are the pre-planned, highly-practiced extension of your will and your reward for your powers of observation and logic. You’ll love it when a plan comes together, for you will have suffered to get to that point. Hotline Miami makes me feel like a man, not a pasty half-man hunched over a keyboard.

Between these tactical missions – again, a small-scale, high-speed, uni-character, no room for error, neon Syndicate is a better touchstone than GTA is – is woven a fever dream of a narrative. Much is open to interpretation, it is not conventionally linear and it is certainly not particularly reliant on logic. Like Drive, a film with which it surely consciously has an awful lot in common, it’s not especially interested in the morality of what its character does for a living (murder, in this case) nor in providing any explanation of how it came to pass. You are given missions of murder via answering machine, you go and do them, then you return to your apartment to pick up the next assignment.

En route, things go wrong. Reality flickers and fragments, nightmarish reflections of yourself taunt and probe you, sequences and characters repeat and those precious few links you have to humanity die suddenly and without explanation. HOTLINE MIAMI might be celebratory about expertly-achieved murder, but it also finds oblique ways to drive home the psychological consequences of a life lived by the sword/shotgun/frying pan/crowbar/brick/drill/silenced Uzi. The soundtrack can turn from pulsing, driving, motivating beat to queasy, unsettling electronic wobble, the lights can dim and flicker and familiar locations subtly change in unmentioned ways.

There’s even a strange vein of sweetness, as a female presence introduced into the player’s apartment in an early mission sees it gradually evolve from dingy cesspit to clean, decorated home. HOTLINE MIAMI is not a love song, but it does have a silent sub-plot showing what the player’s life might have been were he to ever stop picking up those damnable answerphone messages. It all goes wrong, of course. The only happiness in HOTLINE MIAMI is what you yourself feel in response to a kill or series of kills done well – when the combo meter builds as you chain deaths together without pause and without wasted action.

There is, perhaps, an air of smugness to it: it is clearly determined to be both obtuse and entirely cavalier, and that can come off as the game seeming to think it’s smarter than you. It resists explanations as part of this, so there will be unscratched itches come its conclusion. In this cocktail of the utterly superficial and the all-knowing archness it reminded me strongly of Michael Haneke’s chilling, obnoxious, unforgettable movie Funny Games. It seems to want to teach you a lesson, but it is not prepared to explain what that lesson is and at the same time it chooses to behave as though nothing, nothing at all, matters. It’s nihilistic, but with an undercurrent of pitch-black irony and, of course, open sadism. It’s not courting controversy, but it wants to be objectionable. You could, perhaps, call it cool. I know I do. Super-cool. Just don’t expect satisfying answers: expect the narrative of your actions first and foremost, and on top of that a series of vicious events beyond your control.

For me, this air of arch nastiness also added to rather than subtracted from the experience – the nagging doubt and the discombobulation even as the bodies piled up. On yet another hand, it could just be read as as a twisted stoner fantasy. It probably is. I don’t think it bears too much analysis, but it certainly gets inside the head and starts fucking shit up in there. I loved it because of this – because I felt weird as well as brutal.

It can also, optionally, be played for points, and there are weapons and ability-altering masks to be unlocked for those who excel in this field, but it was never about that for me. I just wanted to solve its dastardly, deadly puzzlebox and feel proud of myself for doing so.

You could argue that all HLM does is the same thing, again and again. There are only a handful of enemy types, many locations are visually similar and your range of actions comprises move, shoot, hit, pick up, throw, grab and open door. But playing Hotline Miami is like learning to drive: you improve as the challenge mounts, rather than the situation and experience remaining the same from the first time you remember when all the controls do. Some of the later missions, and especially the handful of take-no-prisoners boss fights, are unashamedly brutal. You need not just to have learned all the ways to control the game and all the patrol patterns of the guards, but to enter a state of mind, of absolute focus, where you know the exact moment at which to press punch or shoot, that hummingbird blink between entering an enemy’s line of sight and his reacting. And the setpiece locations, the levels in nightclubs and hospitals and penthouses? They are marvels.

You could argue its AI is weak and stupid. It is. But it will nonetheless kill you hundreds of times. So maybe it doesn’t matter.

You could argue that it is too short. It will take you the waking hours of one day to complete, presuming you aren’t demolished by the difficulty of the later levels. But each level can be ‘solved’ in various ways, depending how reckless, tactical or stealthy you can be, with different ratings upon its completion. Plus, there are the masks – sinister animal visages forever worn by the unnamed protagonist as he embarks on his cryptic killing sprees. Each of these offers a new ability – start with a weapon, opening doors onto enemies kills them, survive one or two bullets (as opposed to the default none), play in near-darkness, be ignored by dogs, and more game-changing surprises. Between scoring highly enough to unlock most of these, and finding the others hidden in the levels, and then actually replaying missions with these new abilities, it’ll last you plenty of time.

You could argue that it is bit buggy. It is. I saw enemies exit levels, guns spawn without ammo, savegames break, the grab move didn’t work… I hope it will see plenty of patches. But it works, and sings its dark song ’til the end.

You could argue that it’s nasty. It is. This is a murder simulator, and it is not pretending not to be. Though you do only ever fight other murderers. Not that that’s any excuse. HLM is indefensible. That’s rather the point.

You could argue that HOTLINE MIAMI is brilliant, vital, a tactical and aesthetic masterpiece as well as a pixel-art odyssey of ice-cold violence. It is.

And that soundtrack. Action to beat, in perfect, twisted harmony.

is out


  1. flaw says:

    Out now? Now as in NOW? Where? Gimme gimme gimme!

    • Dowr says:

      It’s out now on GOG – well, it should be!
      “This game will be available for download on approximately Oct. 23”
      But it is Oct. 23!

      • flaw says:

        I know! It should be! But it isn’t! Gah!

      • AlwaysRight says:

        Yeah, Im in the same boat. Sent an uncharacteristic complaint to support. I know, I know ive become the thing I hate… But come on! I wanna play!

      • popedoo says:

        It’s available now on Steam. I can only speak for the U.K. of course.

        • AlwaysRight says:

          Thats what I told GOG… man, I’ve turned into a whingey bugger.

          • cafeine says:

            The @GOGcom DRM-free version is on it’s way, sorry for the delay but needed to kill some last minute bugs!

            Twitted 20 minutes ago by Dennaton.

            They owe me a new F5 key.

          • sanasb1989 says:

            This game is… Not well.
            But it is fun.


  2. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Off-topic: That silver car totally makes me feel nostalgia for the original C64 Ghostbusters. You got one a lot like it once you could afford something better than Ecto 1.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Better than Ecto 1? Madness!

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        Heh yeah. Ecto 1 was a beauty, but the sports car got you there quicker so you wouldnt lose the bust! Did it go VW beetle, Ecto 1, station wagon thing and then sports car? I cant remember. It was so cool choosing traps / detectors / ghost hoover though. Like the original rpg character / stat building.

    • iucounu says:

      Yes! Very much so. That was a not-bad game.

    • noom says:

      My predominant memory of that game was cowering in fear as my brother had me assist him by being in charge of the “bait” button. Can’t even remember what prompted the use of said button, only that I would get punched if I failed to press it at the right time :(

      Gaming memories. Not always positive.

      • iucounu says:

        Was this opening the trap under the ghost at the right time? I always had to be the cat in Wizball as I was seven years younger than my brother, and a fair amount of punching happened with that, too.

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          You guys are talking about the MARSHMALLOW ALERT. When you got back to the home screen after busting a ghost, later in the game when PKE levels were high, a bunch of ghosts would converge, forming a Marshmallow Man which would then trample a building, costing you megabucks.

          You would literally shit your pants when it happened, I can still remember how it felt! But yeah, pressing B dropped ghost bait, which attracted the ghosts to it and stopped him forming. The ‘B’ key on my old brown C64 always sat a bit deeper than any other key :) Wind this video to 14:32 link to youtube.com
          *Marshmallow sad face*

          • iucounu says:

            OHHHHH SHIIIIIITTTT I am having a full on Proust-style MADELEINE NOSTALGIA FREAKOUT. Thank you. Off to find an emulator.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Lol. I wonder, how many of us played it with one of these:
            link to syntaxerror.nu
            The mighty red and black (and dodgily named) SLIK STIK!!

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            I think I may have had one of them at some point too, or maybe my mate did with his computer (Amstrad I think). I got through joysticks so quickly. The best one I ever had was for my Amiga, which was the ZipStick. “Fastest Autofire in the World”, arcade style stick, solid construction, great microswitches link to retroblique.com

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      Loved that game.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Also while we are on the topic, did you know a company called Just Add Water nearly made a 3d version of Paradroid? It got canned (link link to joystiq.com). I emailed them to ask if they would make it just for me. They ignored me, so I have decided to go around telling people they once touched me in my special place.

      I’d buy it.

      • BenLeng says:

        Me too. The paradroids were my most beloved games in ye olde days.

    • SparcMan says:


      Props to anyone that understands that reference!

  3. Tei says:

    Firefighter manual, 101:

    First you need a fire. If you don’t have a fire, you have to start one. On a nice building better.

    Once you have a fire, you have to start more fires. The first fire is what let you run rampage around the city, crossing semaphores in red, and destroying people property with a axe, but when the city is burning in more than 5 different locations, you feel needed. You are a god among men.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Splendid! But, uh… what does that have to do with the game?

      • El_Emmental says:

        The fire is a metaphor.

        Hitman manual 101:

        First you need to murder people. If you don’t have a contract, you have to murder someone on your own. The first murder is what let you insinuate fear in their minds, become an inevitable part of their world, murdering people with your tools of trade, on their own commands.

        When there is 5 murders a week, people will start feeling insecure. They will need to protect themselves from you. That’s why they’ll call you.

        Like a preventive war, they’ll repeat to themselves the “the best defense is a good offense” mantra until they wake up at night, covered in sweat and anxiety, lost in their thoughts, wondering “who I didn’t killed, who wants to kill me ?”.

        And they’ll call you.

        You will be worshipped as a god among men, the one controlling their fate, a mystical creature of life and death.

  4. MrNash says:

    Been looking forward to this game for a while. I reckon I know what I’ll be playing when I get home from work tonight. =)

  5. Paul says:

    I have to say that my interest in this game was at zero.
    Then I read Eurogamer’s 10/10 and went “huh?”.
    Then I read this WOTink and went “huh!”.
    Then I watched the launch trailer embedded here and went “I MUST HAVE THIS!11!!”.

    • Faldrath says:

      The launch trailer with no gameplay footage? That’s a bit odd.

    • Bobby Oxygen says:

      It’s good, but a game that doesn’t let you redefine your keys should never get a perfect score for that reason alone.

      • SavageTech says:

        Especially when it has two contextual actions bound to the same key; actions which have the same context and where accidentally doing one makes the other impossible. You can’t pick a guy up to use a meatshield to save your life (literally + figuratively), and out of the hundreds of times I’ve tried to use the meatshield ability it’s worked TWICE.

        Seriously, what the fuck were the designers thinking?

        I don’t mind fixed keys if they’re in the game for a reason (like GIRP, or Cook Serve Delicious!) and I can forgive them in most cases because it’s easy enough to remap keys outside of the game, but there’s absolutely no way to fix this problem in Hotline Miami.

        • Flame_US3r says:

          I was confused about the meatshield randomness until I realized the mechanic depends on which weapon you are holding. Some weapons are two-handed and do not allow the use of a meatshield. All smgs, pistols, and the sawed-off shotgun can be used one-handed, so you when you mash space, you’ll pick up a stunned enemy.

          It’s a little confusing when the game doesn’t explain it, but it makes enough sense.

          As for the key remapping, there should be a way to remap. However I think the current layout is quite straightforward. Very natural for most players.

      • El_Emmental says:

        Easy man, it’s only a matter of time (a day, actually). The patch that is being released in the next 24 hours will let you fully remap 100% of the controls.

        Rather than delaying the game again and again, they preferred to let people enjoy the game now, and patch it again and again, adding features and fixes. There is only 1 coder in the 2-persons devteam, he’s making his best to fix this, don’t be too hasty in judging the game.

      • Cerzi says:

        As someone who uses Dvorak, this bothered me also

      • Fuz says:

        Not buying it (not now, not after a patch) just because I can’t redefine keys. I don’t play with WASD, and it’s really uncomfortable for me.
        Hello? It’s 2012. Not allowing something like key redefining AT LAUNCH it’s REALLY a stupid thing to do.

  6. krisanto says:

    No mention of Retro City Rampage? I was waiting for comparisons between the two.

    • DickSocrates says:

      Apart from being top down they are entirely different games. Utterly, mega, hyper different. There is really no common ground.

    • rockman29 says:

      Retro City: Bad.

      Hotline Miami: Good.

  7. Maldomel says:

    Will play. Sounds like a game made for me.

  8. SooSiaal says:

    Pre-ordered this on steam, went on steam just now to download it,but apparently steam thinks that “hotline miami preorder” in my gamelist and “hotline miami” on the store page are 2 different things, and therefor i dont own hotline miami (yet, will probably be fixed in the next 30 minutes)

    • Vesuvius says:

      Usually restarting Steam solves problems like that for me. But FYI- Steam says (for me, in the US) that Hotline won’t be ‘released’ for another half hour anyways. That may be your problem.

  9. MrUnimport says:

    So…it’s like Dark Souls but moreso, and with ultraviolence?

    Well why didn’t you just say so?

  10. jayc4life says:

    My body is ready.

  11. celozzip says:

    sounds like a real-time frozen synapse maybe? glad you put this up anyway, i’ve been debating whether to get it after buying retro city monster mash whatever it is last week and not playing it once since.

  12. dmastri says:

    Currently not playable for quite a few of us. Get this error on launch. Can get through the error but game launches with no sound/music.

    ERROR in
    action number 1
    of Create Event
    for object objDevolver:

    Error defining an external function.
    Steam Discussion says…
    br33dlove [developer] 2 minutes ago
    Hi folks, Dennaton is working on this now. Please stay tuned and sorry for the issues!

    • ChoccyW says:

      i used vcredist_x64 from C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\hotline_miami\redist to uninstall the redistributable and then tried running the game. Works fine with music and all now, no more error.

    • Plivesey says:

      “Hi gang, Dennaton is working on these issues now. Sorry for the delay but hope to have a fix soon or an update.” – 19:20.

      I cannot begin to play it without sounds/music!

      • Bhazor says:

        Maybe that’s why the Gog and Steam releases haven’t been released yet?

        • Unaco says:

          Fairly sure the Steam version has gone Live… plenty people “in-game” in it in the Steam RPS chat room.

          Also hearing there’s an issue some people are having with the XBox controller scheme not working right? If anyone knows a work-around/fix, I know a couple people it would make happy.

          • The Tupper says:

            Yeah my Steam version doesn’t work with XBox 360 controller. And the last time I tried I also got the above error message too.

          • HothMonster says:

            Tupper they say updating to the latest drivers from MS for the controller will fix it. I haven’t gotten home yet to try myself

          • The Tupper says:

            Nah didn’t work for me. Bah.

          • shaydeeadi says:

            They have actually patched the game to disable the options menu as of a little while ago to fix the issue. I thought I was going mad when I couldn’t change it but found out through the forums that it’s borked. Apparently only one axis works and you needed to delete a file stashed away on your HD to re disable it or you were stuck in nothing land. Bit of a shame really since I was quite looking forward to it,

            The upside is it is still pretty fun on M&K and I’ve bombed through a few chapters now, gonna wait for the patch that hopefully arrives fairly pronto to get through the meat of it.

        • Plivesey says:

          Considering I’d bought the game on Steam and was playing it to reach the error, I fail to see what point you were trying to make.

  13. Universal Hamster says:

    This game is… Not well.
    But it is fun.

  14. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’m a fucking monster.

  15. Meat Circus says:

    Press R to restart.

  16. Keymonk says:

    Well, then… as much as I like the style and tone, the tiny margin of error gameplay is not for me. It does seem like a slick game, though. So kudos either way!

  17. daphne says:

    Those who value their education in the school of games might do well to sit up and take notice. This is one of those games…

  18. 575 Kilted Shark says:

    But the real question is:

    • wodin says:

      Ninja is an amazing game..I prefer it over any of the big releases, even though i really enjoy XCom and though Dis was OK Ninja is pure excellence..

    • Magus44 says:

      I don’t know about OBJECTIVELY or QUANTIFIABLY.
      Both are amazingly awesome.

  19. downgrade says:

    Chapter 3, music way up and murder, murder, murder… r to restart

    pure awesome!

  20. Vandelay says:

    “waking hours of one hour to complete”

    I assume that is meant to say “waking hours of one day,” but considering there are games that cost about 6 times the amount of this that only last less then a third of the waking hours of a day it doesn’t sound very short.

    • jayc4life says:

      That’s probably not a mistake. I’ve had tons of restarts already, but 2 hours later I’m on Chapter 10 out of I think, 15 or so. There’s more replay value after that though by replaying missions to find all the secret stuff, masks and weapons, but it’s one of those games you really will keep coming back to – especially if they patch in online leaderboards. As it stands now, the post-mission scores only count for weapon unlock progression.

  21. Meat Circus says:

    The game’s currently little miss buggy bollocks at the moment, but Cactus does seem to be squishing them with gay abandon. Might be worth holding off 24 hours on this one.

    • Colonel J says:

      It most certainly is. Attempts VC package install everytime I start it up, with error messages. Audio error messages on start. Xbox 360 controller not working. And then crashes at the end of the first level, can’t get past that point.

      LOVED what little I’ve managed to play of it but it’s very broken right now. I’m,going back to XCOM until they’ve patched it.

  22. apa says:

    I might buy this just for the soundtrack. Miami Vice and 80s electro rocks.

  23. BirdsUseStars says:

    So listen, where do you guys get the patience for game with difficulty curves like this? On RPS in particular I’ve noticed an affinity for gameplay of endless failure, and are kind of frustrating by design. I don’t mind a challenge, but after a certain number of restarts I start to feel like the experience is not rewarding anymore.

    • Vandalbarg says:

      Really? I’m the opposite. The more difficult something is the more rewarding it is.

      This game is brutal, but when you do finish up some of the more difficult levels, you let go of a breath you didn’t know you were holding, your muscles untense, and your gaze drops from a thousand yard stare to a blinking joy.

      We do not do these things because they are easy, but because they are hard!

      If you don’t get that satisfaction, you don’t get that satisfaction. There’s no trick to it. You either enjoy difficulty or you don’t.

    • Tiax says:

      Then the game is not for you, simple as that.

      • BirdsUseStars says:

        I’m only asking so that I can better appreciate very difficult games by hearing from people who already do. As far as this particular game goes, I’m enjoying it overall, although I’m stalling on the occasional tougher bits but generally making progress.

    • Jakkar says:

      A game too difficult can frustrate you but leave you wanting. A game too easy can leave you completely empty of the will to continue regardless of how smoothly you might progress. Such is my experience.

      Do you feel yourself learning? Are your skills growing?

      I finished the game an hour ago and began replaying early levels… They were still difficult, but my god I was faster, smoother, so much more confident in the way I took those bastards down. It’s that sense of growth that keeps it ‘justifiable’ to the self to keep repeating, reiterating, trying new techniques and plans.

      Plus the music is by turns either utterly beautiful or sinister in its shallow, unchanging beat, and having something to do with my hands, something this fun no less, while listening to great music… Ah, a gaming gourmet. Without the challenge I would be bored, sir. I hope you can join us soon. Losing… is fun.

    • Harlander says:

      It’s certainly an unremittingly difficult game, but the good thing about it is that restarting from a failure is fast – there’s never the grinding frustra-humiliation of going through a bunch of menus and load times to start afresh.

      I ended up in a very rapid rhythm of kick door punch run die restart kick door grab gun shoot shoot shoot die restart run punch grab shoot shoot throw slam die restart [long sequence excised] shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot WIN

  24. Jockie says:

    Aww, I seem to have hit an impassable bug on chapter 13, it crashes everytime on the 3rd part of the chapter. Just as well parts 1 & 2 make you feel awesome, with the silenced pistol becoming a necessity.

  25. El_MUERkO says:


    The second game I’ve bought this week that’s supposed to work with the XBox 360 Controller but completely fails to work with the XBox 360 controller.


    Hotline Miami:
    link to steamcommunity.com

    Viking: Battle for Asgard:
    link to steamcommunity.com

    • HothMonster says:

      Have you tried updating the drivers for the controller? They say that is all it takes. On my way home now i will be sad if this is not the case.

  26. crinkles esq. says:

    For me, this falls into the same sort of darkly voyeuristic, bleak, desensitized mire as Introversion’s prison simulator. I want no part of it. I say, good day, sir!

  27. kwyjibo says:

    Just finished it, my left hand is a fucking claw from RSI. Very cool, very stylish.

    Wish they didn’t end with that 4th wall breaking coda though, and just left things hanging. Would have been cooler that way.

    Really hope Cactus will continue to support it, would love to see a high score table and a level editor.

  28. Bugamn says:

    What was scenario 3?

  29. Daniel Klein says:

    It’s kind of odd that there’s no “buy” link anywhere on the website you’re linking to. That might make it easier for people to, you know, buy the game.

  30. leafdot says:

    Is a fun game, but after playing it for a few hours it reminds me, in terms of game play, if not style, of a free game called Gun Fu Deadlands. (link to sourceforge.net)

    This isn’t a bummer, really, but it does make me wonder why all the accolades. Maybe I’m just not as taken by the style as some? Or maybe I just need to finish it… We’ll see.

  31. Arglebarf says:

    Question 1: is there someplace to buy the soundtrack? I want to give the makers a comensurate number of monies.

    Question 2: Where can I purchase a Gosling-esque 80s leather jacket?

  32. d_chandler says:

    Purchased, registered, commented based entirely on this review.

    Thanks Mr. Meer!

  33. Magus44 says:

    It’s actually amazing. I had both of my house mates come in while I was playing it saying it looked absolutely awesome/insane. The soundtrack is amazing.
    One thing that niggles me is how randomly some of the guys move. For a game about learning where things are and planning, that throws a massive wrench in my plans so often. Guy just randomly notices where I am, or walks where he didn’t last time. Things seem to teeter on a knife edge. Especially if you wanted to do perfect play throughs.
    Also, my scores are so,so,so,so bad. Going to have to work out how to maximize, would be interesting to see a scoring breakdown.
    Otherwise, its fkn great. A+++++ WOULD BUY AGAIN

  34. CSM says:

    Don’t buy this if you’re an azerty user. You can’t change the controls, so it’s unplayable basically.

    • Stevostin says:

      Don’t play this stuff if you’re an azerty user and you’re so poorly educated about your OS that you don’t know how to find the keyboard manager.

  35. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I tried to describe it to Lady Smingleigh, and she immediately summoned a constable to restrain me.

  36. Stevostin says:

    Playing it and I must say “warning, maybe not half as good as indicated”. Controle are lacking accuracy for the speed required : sometime you throw a pipe that clearly goes through the enemy sprite without triggering a knockout, or you’re above a KO guy and for some reason space doesn’t work like it should. Way more annonying, the focus – middle button is very buggy here and tend to freeze the game with a windows error message playing in the background. It then resume but it just doesn’t work. And even more unexecusable, you never know what item you’ll be picking up when there several off them in the same location, so quite ofter when charged by 2 guys with M16 and in need for a new, charged one, with 4 guns and one chocolate bar at your feet, you pick something and it’s the chocolate bar (then you die).

    I am completing one level after another at what seems a normal speed, but to be honnest it’s just trying enough so that a lucky run makes the difference. The tactic is way less important than luck. Typically you have no weap and there are two guys running in circle in room and you decide tactically to knock out at least one when opening the door and sometime if works and sometime not depending on… well, some skill but utlimately some luck too.

    It’s a stylish game, it’s an interesting game but at it’s core the gameplay ain’t that good. It’s spectacular because it’s fast, but it’s messy and not really thought out IMHO. And the finition is really poor, even for an indie game. For instance you don’t have a resume campaign, it’s just about manually selection the last chapter played. It’s not really confortable but still ok, except that 1) it always unlock one more chapter that what you actually finished, so if you take the last one available you miss some content and 2) even worse, one chapter has two missions and there’s no way to reach the second one directly if that’s where you were when quitting.

    6/10 maybe (I am hard with indie games so that’s not as bad as it looks – still possibly the most enjoyable indie game I’ve played so far – but I just have to put it on hold until there’s a patch and the game simply is technically finished)

    • 3del says:

      I have to agree with Stevostin. I’m a bit sad, because this review was way too enthusiastic. After reading it and some of the comments, this game seemed to be pure gold except some bugs, which would surely be squished in time. So i thought I’d wait a day to purchase and since i didn’t see any bad review yesterday, decided to buy. The controls are really not what you’d expect from a game the author of this article compared to hitting railguns in q3… the tactical aspect of the game is non existent so far in my playthrough. Granted, i didn’t play so much yet, but to me it seems to be almost entirely action oriented.

      It is a fun game, but it doesn’t deserve the hype imo.

    • iucounu says:

      I rather savour the jankiness and unfriendliness of the interface – there’s something a bit QWOP about it. It goes no distance out of its way to help you, but you can, when all the planets align, charge through it like a shiny-jacketed samurai. When you hit, on your 40th try, those little patches of murderous serendipity, it feels amazing. Things going horribly wrong is fun, and you’re never quite sure of winning down to the last man, because you can always fuck it up horribly.

      I like that it has rough edges all over the place. It gives it so much character, and I don’t think it’d be half the game if it looked like Frozen Synapse and played like clockwork. As it is, I think it might be a masterpiece.

    • Stevostin says:

      Finished it, actually. The bug seemed to be tied to my dual screen setup, so once I realised it didn’t like me clicking at the top of the screen, i managed.

      I agree the gameplay really has something to it. Everything I said stands – it’s very little tactit and mainly a mix of skills & luck. Basically you’re repeating your scheme until a good mix of you being good and randomness being merciful happen – but actually, it’s not unpleasant. There’s a fun at being lucky, a bit like at a casino.

      The story delivers – artistically. You have some sense in the story, but not too much, it keeps on an esoteric video pyschopoetic vibe and it’s really great. I also liked some clever & bold take on gameplay, especially all regarding “boss” fights.

      It’s raw everywhere but it’s the best indie game I’ve played so far and it’s a memorable experience for sure. And I may even decide to play it back. I’d probably gave it 8/10 if it didn’t have such awful bugs crippling it sometime. It’s not a master piece of craft, but it’s an admirable video game, and that’s something.

  37. Josh W says:

    Review, in my RPS?

    [Monocle pops out]

  38. aldrenean says:

    To everyone bitching about the grab move/meat shield not working, you have to be using a gun that only takes one hand. That is, an SMG, silenced pistol, or dual-barrel shotgun. It will NOT work with the assault rifle and semi-automatic shotgun, which are far more common.

  39. Niyeaux says:

    Scenario #3 was redacted after another site threatened RPS with a libel suit,

  40. reddog says:

    Another top-down game with (notably smaller servings of) blood and shooting sprang to mind:


    Now I feel old again. 25 years of playing computer games … time well spent (?)

  41. spelvin spugg says:

    No procedural maps = no buy. This would have been a prime candidate for roguelike level generation.

    That said, mad props to Cactus, I thought he was a total wuss. Guess not. Maybe I’ll slip him a ten spot. Or maybe I’ll just wait until the next Humble Bundle.

    • Stevostin says:

      Actually the game are far than even remotely good enough for that. Note that there is randomisation in the maps, thus (what weapon where). A good deal of a winning streak (that’s how you progress in that game), is a good mix of randomness in the level and randomness in the actions outcome. Which tells you why it wouldn’t work AT ALL as a rogue like.

  42. Mr Ak says:

    Man, I can’t remember the last time a review just made me up and buy something. Maaaan.

  43. Monchberter says:

    It’s a tight game wrapped up in a style hugely derivative of Drive.

    For the record I thought Drive was utter shit.

    There’s a backlash down the road. Mark my words.

  44. BrokenButterfly says:

    For the price, this was both 10/10 and Game of the Year for me. It’s been years since I’ve played two indie titles in a short amount of time (Hotline Miami, La-Mulana remake) that surpassed any mainstream or big studio title in my demented mind.