Hotline Miami Review
Haven't done one of these for a while and trying a new approach to reviewing games.
Price: At $10 alone, the game has more than enough replayability (20 chapters in all - 6-10 hours length, scoring, secrets & 3 achievements). The main game can vary in length, esp. since this is a hardcore, top-down, 2d-retro, 8-bit, old-school shooter and may be difficult for most. The important thing is to keep trying - and dying. You'll learn different approaches to each level while simultaneously avoiding the need to rage.
Gameplay: There a combos to string, fun finishers and there's a very consistent-solid combat system. The game goes very fast and is unforgiving (you, like enemies, can die from 1 hit/bullet - anywhere on the map... but there are checkpoints!!). It's easier to play it stealthier with melee weapons than it is to run and gun but the latter will reward you, esp. if you have a faster time. Each chapter consists of navigating a series of connected maps. At the end, you return all the way back to your get-away vehicle and your points are tallied. From there you receive unlockables such as new weapons to be found in future levels and masks that can either hinder/benefit the player. The choice is yours.
Story: It's kind of hard to deliver a solid story with no voices in-game... but this game does manage to keep it engaging and interesting and you forget that there's no voices at all. The dialogue is on-screen, isn't too much to take in - all-at-once and is placed at appropriate segments throughout the game. The recurring theme here is: choice and you begin to question motives and things happening to your main character - who's sending you on the next slaughter mission, why are you carrying them out with no hesitation and who are these people you're killing? Choice presents itself more towards the end of the game as your character becomes more aware.
Music: There's an upbeat and very classic 80's soundtrack. It's absolutely brilliant and it's more than enough reason to buy this game alone. You'll spend time just sitting on levels, doing nothing, and listening to the music. There's not much to say and the total length of music, in-game, is more than 1 hours worth. You will often hear a repeated theme music/song played when returning back to your vehicle or at the hub, but it never gets boring and you're always listening in awe. The soundtrack's probably the best thing in this game - period.
Style: The game appears to be played on an old arcade machine, and the black box that surrounds the frame of the game might be distracting to players... but it's there to get you immersed. When you perform kills/hits - the screen flashes and the background's always retro/moving while you are moving. This may cause people to feel dizzy/have headaches - so there's always that. But if you'v e had no problems with games in the past... you should be alright. Play at a high resolution and don't sit right on top of the screen.
Technical - The game had some minor bugs at launch... but most of it's fixed. If and when you buy this game, you may still have some problems. I, like many others, downloaded the beta patch. This is very easy to do and will result in an extra ~ 150 mb on top of the ~300 mb game, being downloaded. What it enables you to do - it adds controller support, gives the option to change and set resolution, and also includes bug fixes. I have no idea why this wasn't included in the main game but to do it:
-Steam Library - Right click on Hotline Miami and go to Properties.
-From there, click "BETAS" and then enter in the beta access code/password:hlm
-This should prompt a message, now allowing you to select out of the drop-down box, on the "BETAS" tab of this window, to: Beta - Beta branch.
-This will trigger the downloading of the BETA Patch.
After this is done, simply play the game!!
TL;DR - This is a top-down, retro, 80's, ultravoilent, 2D, old-school/hardcore shooter... THAT's VERY UNFORGIVING :)
Final Score: 9/10 (has no difficulty changer option).