Hotline Miami cover artwork by Niklas Åkerblad
Abstraction Games (PS3, PS Vita)
PhyreEngine (PS3, PS Vita)
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows
Hotline Miami is a 2D top-down action video game by Dennaton Games, a team composed of Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin. The game was published by Devolver Digital and released on October 23, 2012 for Microsoft Windows. The game has been described by Eurogamer as "a top-down f***-'em-up", blending top down perspective with stealth, extreme violence and surreal storytelling, along with a soundtrack and visuals influenced by 1980s culture. The game itself was influenced in part by Nicolas Winding Refn's 2011 neo-noir crime drama film Drive, as well as Cocaine Cowboys; Refn is specifically thanked in the game's credits, and the game even features a similar "Driver" jacket lying on the floor in several levels.
Hotline Miami is divided into several chapters, each of which is further broken down into several stages. At the start of most chapters, the unnamed protagonist wakes up in his apartment and listens to cryptic messages on his answering machine. These messages tell him to perform an arbitrary task at a certain location, which in each case is inferred as a metaphor for killing every person at that location, such as giving VIPs of a hotel a 'great stay'. Prior to commencing a mission, the player is asked to select an animal mask to wear, each of which provides unique advantages or handicaps. In each stage, the player navigates a building from a top-down perspective, and the goal is almost always to kill every opponent therein. Occasionally the player must also defeat a boss at the end of the chapter or find key items as they explore, but most levels are very straightforward. Some levels will also include hidden masks for the player to find along the way. The player has access to a wide variety of melee, thrown, and ranged weapons, and will need to handle challenges through either stealthy tactics or overwhelming force. The player character is no more resilient than the enemies, however, so any mistake is usually fatal. Enemy AI varies slightly, causing them to occasionally move unpredictably, making it difficult to plan a perfect approach. To make up for this, the game allows the player to restart each stage the moment they die, allowing them to quickly fine-tune their approach over several attempts. The game grades the player's performance at the end of each chapter based on a number of factors, also granting them points that unlock more weapons, and may also unlock additional masks depending on their score.
Hotline Miami employs an unreliable narrator and events are sometimes presented out of chronological order. The player takes the role of an unknown man; he is frequently referred to as "Jacket" by fans due to his distinctive letterman jacket, but he is never referred to by this or any other name in the game. He is plagued by visions involving three masked strangers who discuss Jacket's identity and his actions. The first stranger is a man who wears Jacket's clothes and a rooster mask ('Richard') and provides Jacket with cryptic questions and predictions, the second is a woman wearing a horse mask ('Don Juan') who expresses concern over Jacket's personality and well-being, and the third is a mobster who wears an owl mask ('Rasmus') and expresses his disgust at Jacket's behavior and often incites him to leave the apartment.
Jacket wakes up in his apartment on April 3, 1989. He receives a message on his phone about a delivered package of cookies and how he should read the list of ingredients. Jacket finds the package outside which contains a rooster mask and instructions to retrieve and deliver a briefcase at a certain location while eliminating everyone there. Jacket puts on the rooster mask and places the briefcase at the desired location. A seemingly hostile bum shows up, and Jacket brutally murders him before removing his mask and throwing-up. As the days pass, Jacket continues to get more of these messages and follows their orders. After each 'job', he stops at either a bar, pizza place, deli, or video store. He finds the same bearded man working at each store and Jacket is given everything he wants free of charge while being indirectly praised for the murders. Following a voicemail directing him to the estate of a movie producer, Jacket rescues a drugged girl who was being sexually abused and brings her home. Jacket begins a relationship with this woman and continues to murder mobsters at the request of the ominous messages.
While clearing out a condo of mobsters, Jacket receives a phone call insisting he come to the phone company's office to deal with a 'prank caller'. When he arrives, he finds everyone in the building is dead except for a man wearing a biker helmet, investigating the company's files. The two fight. At this point, the story splits along two paths.
Jacket kills the Biker with a golf club before returning to his car. Following this difficult fight, Jacket's version of events becomes increasingly surreal and distorted, with the dead bodies of the men he's killed appearing around his apartments and the stores he visits after each 'job', although his girlfriend and the clerk fail to notice them. Jacket continues with his murders and almost gets caught when SWAT raids a building in which he was fighting. After his escape, Jacket stops at the deli only to find the body of the Biker on the floor. The clerk tells Jacket that "none of this is real," and with a flash of static, the Biker is gone and the man is oblivious to what just happened. Soon after, the clerk is found dead in every store he worked in and replaced by a bloodstained bald man, Richter, who is unfriendly towards Jacket and gives him nothing.
Jacket continues to murder people as the messages ask, until one day he arrives home to find his girlfriend shot dead in the bathroom. Richter is found sitting on Jacket's couch wearing a rat mask. He briefly acknowledges Jacket before shooting him in the head. The scene cuts to a grimy, darkened dream-state version of his apartment. Jacket enters his living room where he was shot and finds his corpse on the floor, with Richard sitting in Richter's place. Richard says that this will be the last time they will meet, and tells Jacket that what he will do from here on "won't serve any purpose", and that he will never see the full picture. Jacket's clothes turn into hospital clothing as he walks across the hallway and into the apartment opposite, where he sees himself lying in a hospital bed. He falls to his knees and his head explodes.
Weeks pass and Jacket is in a hospital with a police officer and a doctor discussing his fate. Jacket's injury was not lethal, but managed to put him into a coma. The police officer states that Jacket's girlfriend died and that they have the suspect in custody, but angrily asks when Jacket will awaken, as he turns out to be the prime suspect for the shootings. In spite of his injuries, Jacket escapes from the hospital and returns to his apartment, only to find it and his car ransacked. He changes back into his regular clothing and assaults the police station, killing everyone inside. He finds out that Richter was the man in the rat mask who killed his girlfriend. Richter says that he received the same phone calls as Jacket, but is unable to offer him more advice other than examining the police case files. After following more leads, Jacket is eventually given the address of the head of the Russian mafia.
Jacket arrives at the address and rampages through the building. He kills everyone there, including the mobster boss. Jacket heads towards the balcony, looks at a photograph and drops it into the darkness, and smokes a cigarette while the credits roll.
- The Biker's interpretation
Following the game's conclusion, the player is given the opportunity to play as the Biker, who is revealed to be receiving the same phone calls as Jacket. However, he eventually becomes less willing to blindly follow their instructions than Jacket was, and attempts to end his affiliation with the group. Eventually his investigation into the source leads him to the phone company. After the Biker kills one to all of the unarmed workers and investigates the company's files, Jacket arrives and attempts to stop him. In this timeline, however, the Biker easily defeats Jacket after warning him to back off. The Biker then travels to the mob headquarters where Jacket originally killed the mobster boss. Spotting a janitor retreating into the basement, the Biker follows him and discovers a room full of masks and phones. It is revealed that two janitors (who are essentially creator cameos) have been setting up the killings. Depending on their actions, the player will be given one of two possible endings:
- Standard ending - The Biker confronts the janitors and demands to know why they've been doing all of this. If Jacket hasn't collected a series of secret letters scattered throughout each of his pre-Biker levels, the janitors will simply claim that they were bored, that the voicemails and masks were a way of entertaining themselves, and mock the Biker's need to justify his mindless violence.
- Secret ending - If Jacket has collected all the letters and the player solves the game's word puzzle, the Biker is able to guess the password for the janitors' computer system and discover their true intentions before confronting them. Instead of simply claiming boredom, the pair will explain that their plan was to destabilize the Russo-American coalition by conducting the systematic murder of the Russian mafia, all under the direction of an American patriotic group known as 50 Blessings. The pair claim that the Biker knowingly signed up to be a part of this, which explains the presence of the organization's flyers in both Jacket's and the Biker's apartments. The janitors then reveal that there are sections of the same organization all over the United States. The Biker promptly ends conversation with the janitors, voicing contempt for the tiresome addition of such details before leaving.
Regardless of which ending is obtained, the player may then kill the pair or let them live; an action which significantly bears no impact on progression through the game. The Biker leaves on his motorcycle before the credits roll a second time.
Most of these names are unofficial because they were not named in-game.
- Jacket - He is the main protagonist in the game. He wears various masks and performs a number of brutal assassinations in response to cryptic messages left on his answering machine. He is later attacked by another masked assassin. Because of it he pursues those he feels are responsible.
- Biker - A protagonist in chapters that occurs after the main storyline is finished. He is receiving the same phone calls as Jacket but he becomes less willing to follow their instructions. He tries to end his affiliation with the group. It leads to his fight with Jacket. Jacket kills him in the first scenario. He is playable in the later chapters, but uses a different play-style than Jacket: he is unable to use stray weapons and can only use a cleaver as well as three throwing knives.
- Richter - Another person receiving the same phone calls. He is the one who attacked Jacket and killed his girlfriend.
- Richard, Rasmus, and Don Juan - Three masked personas that Jacket sees within his distorted reality.
- Hooker - Jacket's girlfriend. They met when he spared her life and gave her a new chance.
- Beard - A friend of Jacket who gives him free items in shops where he works.
Marketing and release
Leading up to the release of Hotline Miami, Devolver Digital opened a phone line in Miami, Florida to enable people to call and leave voice messages of their own. Some time after the official release of the game in late October 2012, a trailer was created using these recordings.
In early November 2012, an update for the game added support for gamepad control, multiple bug fixes, a few gameplay tweaks, graphical adjustments, and a new bonus map called 'Highball'.
By mid-December 2012, the game's publisher, Devolver Digital, revealed that 130,000 copies of the game had been sold in the seven weeks since it launched. In an interview at Eurogamer, project manager Graeme Struthers was "chuffed to bits" for Hotline Miami creators Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin, adding that “those are some talented boys.”
In an interview with Pocket Gamer, Söderström was quoted as saying that his team had been talking to Sony about bringing the game to PlayStation devices – including the PS Vita – although they would require a third party to port it for them. The creators are also considering porting the game to iOS and Android touchscreen devices. As of December 5, 2012, the Twitter account for the game indicated that a Mac version is close to completion. The Mac version was released on March 19, 2013.
In mid-February 2013, Devolver Digital and developer Dennaton Games confirmed that the game would be coming to PlayStation 3 and PS Vita in the summer of the same year. The title would be Cross-Buy, allowing those who have purchased the game on either Vita or PS3 to play it across both platforms, only having to buy it once. The port was handled by Abstraction Games shifting from Game Maker engine to PhyreEngine and featured enhanced controls, an extra unlockable mask, and online leaderboards. These features were later added for existing PC owners as a patch. It was also revealed that, at this point, over 300,000 copies of the game had been sold.
On May 28, 2013, it was featured on the eighth Humble Indie Bundle as one of the games offered if paying above the average amount. The Linux version for Hotline Miami was released concurrently with the bundle as all Humble Bundle games have a Windows, OS X and Linux version available.
On the night of June 24, 2013, the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita version of Hotline Miami was released early, due to scheduled maintenance of the PlayStation Network.
The Hotline Miami Official Soundtrack can be found on Devolver Digital's SoundCloud account. It was later made available to purchase on Valve Corporation's digital distribution platform, Steam. Although the soundtrack is available for purchase, all of the music files can be found within the game folder in .ogg format (albeit often in edited versions).
|1.||"Horse Steppin"||Sun Araw||10:10|
|6.||"Deep Cover"||Sun Araw||8:05|
|10.||"Musikk per automatikk"||Elliott Berlin||3:05|
|13.||"A New Morning"||Eirik Suhrke||2:28|
|16.||"Daisuke"||El Huervo feat. Shelby Cinca||2:42|
|21.||"It's Safe Now"||Scattle||2:43|
|23.||"To The Top"||Scattle||1:58|
Hotline Miami received positive reviews from professional critics. On aggregate review websites GameRankings and Metacritic, the game attains scores of 85.36% and 85 out of 100, respectively. Much praise was given to its neon-soaked depiction of 1980s underground Miami, overflowing with raw brutality and ultraviolent close combat as the player finds himself outgunned and using his wits to choreograph a way through impossible situations. The game's soundtrack was lauded for accentuating the already heightened tension and gritty violence.
Eurogamer scored the game 10/10, with reviewer Tom Bramwell saying that the game was a blend of elements, and if one of the game's elements were removed, the game would stop working, but you would be unable to understand why.
PopMatters scored the Playstation 3 version of the game 9/10, reviewer Eric Swain wrote "Hotline Miami is still an introspective surrealist dive into the mind of a maniac who lives within the neon gloss of the late ‘80s. You still go around killing groups of thugs at the behest of a voice on the other side of the phone calls, which is somehow sufficient to addle you into killing everyone you find at an address that that voice provides. You still choose an animal mask to wear before entering these kill zones, and you still have a variety of weapons at your disposal to stab, shoot, and bludgeon your way through crowds of Russian thugs and the police."
IGN gave the game a score of 8.8/10 emphasizing its "striking blend of fast ultraviolence, a dense, challenging story and brilliant presentation." In its final verdict for the game, the reviewer Charles Onyett stated "Hotline Miami's momentum of mystery builds right up to its finale, where snarling cynicism is offered as a justification for why all this machinery of neon fuzz and thumping bass, bright blood and fractured identity was started up in the first place. Yet the justification is also disarmingly simple, the same reason why quarters were dropped into arcade machines built during the late '80s era Dennaton Games so clearly reveres. Why bother with Hotline Miami? Because it exists. Because it's fun. Because it deserves to be played."
The game received the 'Best PC Sound of the Year' accolade by IGN in its end of year awards (2012). It was also nominated for the 'Best PC Action Game', 'Best PC Story' and 'Best PC Game of the Year', in addition to awards for the 'Best Overall Action Game of the Year', 'Best Overall Music of the Year' and 'Best Overall Game of the Year'.
It was the recipient of both Eurogamer's and Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Game of the Show award at their inaugural Rezzed expo. On December 24, 2012, PC Gamer awarded the game with "The Best Music of the Year 2012". At Machinima.com's fourth annual Inside Gaming Daily Awards for 2012 the game received the award for most original game.
Jonatan Söderström has responded to complaints and questions on file-sharing website The Pirate Bay under the name 'cactus69', providing advice for users who are experiencing problems with pirated copies of the game. Söderström has made a post on Twitter admitting that whilst he does not want anyone to pirate the game, he can empathise with the fact that some people may not be able to afford it.
When questioned about piracy issues by Eurogamer, Graeme Struthers of Devolver Digital said "He (Söderström) just felt he didn't want people playing the buggy version of his game however they got it. He wanted them to get the patch. He basically said, 'I'm not going to criticise this, it's a fact of life. It would be nice if guys could find it within themselves to pay for it, but that's the world I'm in, so you know, you just have to take it for what it is.' It has been torrented to such a staggering level, and given the file size of it, I mean, you can't really be surprised, right? You could pass this thing around on the world's smallest memory stick. So it has been torrented to extraordinary levels."
In an interview with Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin at Eurogamer, the creators shed some light on possible new future game content. When prompted with the question of upcoming downloadable content, the creators revealed "I think we're going to do quite a big project. It will probably be about as long as the full game, so probably we'll charge something for it. It will be like a sequel kind of, but building on the story. We don't want to reveal too much, but it will probably have more playable characters than the first game did. And a couple of different stories and angles. A lot of people have been asking about a map editor to build their own stages, so we're looking at if it's possible to do that. I think it would be really cool to let people do their own stages."
In late November 2012, Söderström tweeted "Working while listening to the sweet tunes of a preliminary Hotline Miami 2 soundtrack that we've put together during the weekend." He later clarified that it was only really the music that he was dealing with at the time and that, "We only have some general plans for the next game". In terms of the new soundtrack, Söderström said "I'm not sure for the second game yet. Last time we had nine different musicians doing the soundtrack. Looks like a couple of them might do more tracks for the sequel, but we've been looking at some other bands as well. Want to keep it fresh."
Hinting that the sequel may be some way off, Söderström insisted that he was still committed to working on patching and fixing the original game. The official Hotline Miami Twitter released photographs revealing the title screen of the sequel, revealing its full title, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. On June 19, 2013 the first teaser trailer for the sequel was released on the Devolver Digital YouTube channel. The game will be released in 2014
- Forster, Richard. "Game Developers: PhyreEngine 3.5 Arrives Today for PS3, PS4, PS Vita". Playstation Blog. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
- "JONATAN SÖDERSTRÖM, DENNIS WEDIN AND DEVOLVER DIGITAL TO DELIVER AN EXPLOSION OF BLOOD AND NEON LIGHTS WITH HOTLINE MIAMI" (Press release). August 14, 2012.
- Quintin Smith (August 30, 2012). "Hotline Miami Preview: Beneath the Neon". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2013-02-24.
- Drive "Driver" jacket laying in floor
- Hotline Miami checks its voicemail – Destructoid
- Hotline Miami Gets Controller Support – IGN
- The Hotline Miami sales story, and more • News • PC • Eurogamer.net
- Hotline Miami dev talking to Sony about bringing the super-violent indie hit to Vita | Hotline Miami news | PlayStation Vita | Pocket Gamer
- Twitter / HotlineMiami: And want to confirm that the
- Abstraction Games webpage showcasing their involvement with Hotline Miami
- Hotline Miami Coming to PS3 and PS Vita – IGN
- Mitchell, Richard (January 24, 2013). "Hotline Miami soundtrack hits Steam, game on sale for $5". Joystiq. AOL. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- "Hotline Miami for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- "Hotline Miami for PC". Metacritic. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- "Hotline Miami review". Edge. November 2, 2012. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Bramwell, Tom (October 23, 2012). "Hotline Miami review". Eurogamer. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Reeves, Ben (November 5, 2012). "Hotline Miami". Game Informer. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Saldana, Giancarlo (October 31, 2012). "Hotline Miami Review". GamesRadar. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- "Hotline Miami Review". GameTrailers. November 8, 2012. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Onyett, Charles (October 26, 2012). "Hotline Miami Review". IGN. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Smith, Graham (November 1, 2012). "Hotline Miami review". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Cameron, Phill (October 24, 2012). "Hotline Miami Review". VideoGamer.com. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Swain, Eric (August 5, 2013). "Hotline Miami (PS3)". PopMatters. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
- Best PC Sound – Best of 2012 – IGN
- Best Overall Action Game – Best of 2012 – IGN
- Best PC Action Game – Best of 2012 – IGN
- Best PC Game – Best of 2012 – IGN
- Best PC Story – Best of 2012 – IGN
- Best Overall Music – Best of 2012 – IGN
- Best Overall Game – Best of 2012 – IGN
- Tom Bramwell (July 9, 2012). "Rezzed 2012: Eurogamer's Game of the Show is Hotline Miami". Eurogamer. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
- Alec Meer (July 18, 2012). "Rezzed: Our, And Your, Game Of The Show". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
- Davies, Marsh (December 24, 2012). "The Best Music of the Year 2012: Hotline Miami". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
- Sonntag, Lawrence. "Winners of the 4th annual Inside Gaming Daily Awards announced". Machinima.com. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- "The 2012 Vidya Gaem Awards".
- Twitter / cactusquid: I don't really want people
- The creators of Hotline Miami on inspiration, storytelling and upcoming DLC • News • PC • Eurogamer.net
- Twitter / cactusquid: Working while listening to
- Twitter / cactusquid: We only have some general plans
- Hotline Miami sequel announced • News • PC • Eurogamer.net
- Hotline Miami 2 will come in 2014