Cassio Oct 28, 2012 @ 3:20am
My take on the entire story of Hotline Miami (Spoilers)
(I typed this up at 4 AM. Any misspellings/mistakes, please post them. I will correct them)

First off let's start with the main character's name. It's Richard. We're introduced to Richard when he starts talking to the three masked men.

The horse represents Richard's past.

"Oh you don't know who you are? Perhaps we should keep it that way" this is Richard being unaware of what he's done.

"But I know you." The Rooster mask which is named Richard. This represents you/the present.
"Look at my face. We've met before. Haven't we?" Yes because you're the same person.

The Owl represents Richard's future/conscience.
"I don't know you! Why are you here? You're no guest of mine!" Richard's conscience is upset with the fact that he's taken to murder.

"Do you really want me to reveal who you are? Knowing oneself means acknowledging one's actions" This is a major clue. The first part of the game is Richard's memory. You aren't present. Since this occurs before you actually murder anyone, Richard doesn't realize who he is. "As of lately, you've done some terrible things" like kill people.

"You don't remember me? I'll give you a clue. Does April 3rd mean anything to you? I believe that was the day of our first encounter. You look like you might be remembering something" Then you start.

Richard does his first mission. Which is interesting. You get your package which contains your mask and a letter. You automatically know where the drop off zone is. You've been told where it was before. That or you were hypnotized. Either way, you know. You go kill, get the briefcase and deliver it. Notice, when you're doing the killings, music is playing. This means that Richard is in his hypnotic state. Once you kill the homeless man, you're normal, old Richard. This is why he vomits after the kill. Richard as himself is not used to this.

After "saving his girlfriend", Richard consults his mind.

"Oh it's you again" says his past. Referencing that Richard is revisiting his past. "It looks like you've been busy since we last met." Busy remembering.

"I see that you remember me now. Don't you? But you still don't know who I am." Richard remembers how he began killing. But he doesn't realize where he is presently. "You don't know who introduced us, do you?" You really don't.

"Why did you come back here? You're not a nice person are you? You make me sick!" This is Richard's conscience scolding him for remembering his killings.

"A picture is starting to take form here... I wonder if it's accurate. Some pieces don't quite seem to fit. Or maybe I just don't like the way it looks." Richard's past realizes that Richard is misremembering. Or constructing his memories how HE wants. Richard DIDN'T save his girlfriend. She's dead. That's not all but we'll get to that.

"I think our time is up. But we'll meet again. Before you go, here's four questions to ponder.
Question one:
Do you like hurting other people? (No. Richard is hypnotized)
Question two:
Who is leaving messages on your answering machine? (We'll get to this)
Question three:
Where are you right now? (Richard is in the hospital. We'll get to this)
Question four:
Why are we having this conversation? (Because Richard is in a coma. This is his mind's construction to help him make sense of his world.)

That's all for now. See you soon..."

Richard then goes on to kill some more. Notice here that you start seeing other bodies who are from your organization. The men in white are the Russian mafia. In one level you see a masked man being tortured for answers, you fine one dying in the sewer (probably killed by your handlers), and one on the dance floor in one of the missions. Richard is the clean up man. He goes and does jobs that others aren't capable of.

Richard's handlers call him to deal with the problem at Phone Hom. This is where things get ♥♥♥♥ed up. Richard recalls walking into a building full of dead bodies and killing the helmet wearing man. This memory is unreliable. Afterward, Richard consults his mind. This time he is covered in blood and his mind is radically deteriorating.

"So, you came back?" asks his past. "How are you feeling? You look ill." Yes, because Richard is in the hospital. He lost that fight. "Maybe you should see a doctor?" Indeed. He needs medical attention.

"I told you not to come back here! I see that my opinion of you doesn't matter..." Richard's conscience scolds him. This is basically his conscience saying "The more you remember these events, the worse your state is... But I see that doesn't matter. Go ahead. Go psycho." He goes on "If you insist on returning here, then I should leave!" Which is Richard's conscience's way of saying "Why should I stop you from murdering people? Obviously you relish these memories!"

"Have you thought about what I asked you last time? I'm not here to give you any answers..." Richard's present says. This is because he genuinely doesn't know the answers. Not now anyways.

"Questions are all I have to offer a man like you." That's because Richard is questioning himself. That and because he is questioning the present.

"If you're not feeling well, maybe you should rest? Some thing work out best when you don't try so hard. No matter who you are, bearing too much weight inevitably leads to the collapse of everything." Richard's past is telling him to stop remembering these events. He has no real reason to. By constantly reminding himself of what he's done, he risks going psycho.

"Next time we meet will be the last." Says Richard's present self. "I can see it in your eyes." Richard is beginning to wake up. "Before you go I'll leave you with three predictions:
Someone you know is not who you think he is. (I believe this is referring to helmet guy. In other words: he's not dead. He's also not a bad guy.)
Something will soon be taken from you. (Yes, your girlfriend, your life and your sanity.)
On July the 21st you will wake up in a bigger house. (On July 21st, the mission Trauma takes place. You wake up in the hospital)
That is all"

It is after Richard's encounter with the helmet guy that he starts to hallucinate and see dead people talking. It's AFTER Trauma that the hallucinations go away. The rat is in your apartment and when you walk in you see that your girlfriend has been murdered.

"Ah, there you are! I was wondering when you'd be getting back." Richard is not under hypnosis right now. The rat is. "Well, let's get this over with then." B

BLAM!

Richard is shot.

Richard comes back to see his present projection sitting on the couch. The atmosphere changes to the same one as when you consult your mind other times.

"Looks like it's only you and me left now. I'm sure you know by now, that this won't end well. Soon you will be all alone. But that's okay." This is referencing the fact that Richard will wake up in the hospital without any friends. His girlfriend will have been murdered.

"Before we say goodbye, I'll let you in on a secret... What you do from here on, won't serve any purpose. You will never see the whole picture... And it's all your own fault. Now it's time for you to leave. There's a warm bed across the hall from here."

This is in reference to one of two things. You can argue that Richard died. The ending is all his imagination. But I'd like to think the game isn't THAT grim.

Richard says to himself "You'll never see the whole picture." There's one reason for that.

"And you look like you can use some rest."

Richard wakes up on July 21st. He isn't psycho. In fact, he's far from it. He's "waking up" at this point. He desperately wants answers. Having been trained to be a killing machine, Richard does what he does best, he kills all the police to get answers from the rat man. Upon being disappointed, Richard kills him.

Richard finally confronts the boss of the Russian mafia. Once killing him, Richard finally feels liberated. No longer bound to kill. He doesn't seek answers because he is satisfied. The ending is bitter sweet. Richard's life is destroyed but he is no longer a puppet. Unfortunately he'll never know the full story.


~Rewind sequence~

But Helmet guy, on the other hand, never fell for the tricks. While he had joined up with the same movement as Richard, Helmet guy wanted to get to the bottom of who was calling the shots and why this was happening.

Helmet guy goes to Phone Hom. Here (in my opinion. Depends on how you play/interpret it) Helmet guy DOES NOT kill anyone at Phone Hom. In fact, Helmet guy tries not to kill anyone unless they're armed. Helmet guy only kills the Phone Hom CEO cause he knows that they're the hub for where the calls are coming from.

"Interesting..." Helmet guy finds an address. "So that's where you've been hiding..." Richard walks in. Wearing the Rooster mask. This is why present projection Richard is wearing a rooster mask in the mind consultation sequences. That's what he was last wearing before the coma.

"Get out of here if you don't want to die!" Unfortunately Richard can't talk or fight it. He's hypnotized to kill everyone at the address he was given. It was Richard who killed the employees. It was Richard's mission to kill helmet guy. His ♥♥♥♥ed up memory made him remember it differently.

"Okay have it your way!" Helmet guy slices Richard. "You had your chance." Just like that, Richard is hospitalized. This is further alluded to when you play as Richard and do this mission. The bartender says "I have a feeling something terrible happened tonight... There's something in the air" this is in reference to Richard's injury.

The rat killed Richard's girlfriend.
Helmet guy hospitalized Richard.

In the end, Richard doesn't find out why these things were happening. He killed the Russian mob boss and was liberated by completing his mission rather than destroying the source.

Helmet guy DOES find the answer. He finds the base of operations in the sewer with the cleaning people. If you input the password, Helmet guy discovers that the cleaners' plan was to ruin Russia and America's relations through the destruction of the mafia.

That's it. The final conclusion of whether or not they succeed or what helmet guy and Richard do next is to be determined. Perhaps there will be a sequel or DLC!
Last edited by Cassio; Oct 28, 2012 @ 3:53am
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P@ran0id_Skiz0phr3n!k Oct 28, 2012 @ 10:53pm 
How do you know Richard is hypnotized? edit: can you sum it up abit shorter and easier? Good effort on explaining all this, I was waiting for someone to do it. Im still confused though.
Last edited by P@ran0id_Skiz0phr3n!k; Oct 28, 2012 @ 10:55pm
hermanJnr. Oct 29, 2012 @ 7:29am 
Interesting take on it all :) I'd love to see a sequel/DLC myself, especially if it expanded on the main character's story a little.

Your hypnosis theory is interesting, it certainly makes a lot of sense. I didn't even think of the visions as a product of his being in the hospital, so I shall do another replay - that's a great observation.

However, there's still a few things that remain unexplained: why does "Richard" see that same friendly hippy guy in all the shops? Is that another mental coping mechanism?

I actually took that literally. To debate the hypnosis angle for a second - I presonally wonder if Richard is actually mentally ill in some way, and so he's stealing the food and items he's getting for "free".

The cleaners who you find out organise the killings (in the Biker section) work at his apartment - you run into one of them cleaning it up and she "smiles" at you (very cool twist you only see on a replay). I wonder if they noted Richard has some kind of mental issues, and so "recruited" him and started leaving the messages on his phone.

The hippy store clerk is kind of his ability to mentally rationalise things and see the good in others, similar to the Hallucinated Richard - for example, the shopkeeper mentions his theory of several masked killers after you've found the bodies of them yourself.

Also, very significantly, my take on the Biker boss battle is different. I think Richard succeeds in killing him, which ironically means that the real bad guys (the cleaners) will never be uncovered. The "Biker Segment" is like an alternate story. When Richard then talks to the hippy bartender (in his mind), he's realising that the Biker was actually a good guy - and hence realises that "Something terrible has happened."

As Richard starts to think (in the hospital) about his girlfriend's killer, his logical and moral self "dies" - you start seeing the "Rat" killer in place of the hippy store clerk, who has apparently been shot dead by him. After Richard wakes up, he voluntarily goes and slaughters the entire police station merely to obtain a few vague answers from the killer, suggesting his moral compass has given way to hatred.

This is referenced early on by the hippy, who remarks that he "hasn't been the same since he lost his girlfriend." - perhaps indicating a lack of chronological order.

At the end, Richard murders the rest of the Mafiya bad guys, but has another significant conversation with the old man running the outfit. "I've done so many terrible things, it doesn't really matter anymore." the guy says, right before you murder him.

It's a dual statement that also describes Richard's actions. He's got vengeance for his dead girlfriend, but he's actually helped without realising the people who ordered the Rat guy to kill her - the Cleaners are making money (and amusing themselves) with the death of the Mafiya.

Ultimately he's committed so many crimes that his retribution is hollow, and the real baddies get away with everything because the Biker is dead.

So there's my take (with modifications from your theories ;) ) on it :)
Lex_ Oct 29, 2012 @ 10:32am 
Great to read some new takes on the story, although I do have a few problems with it.
1. There is no actual proof that Richard is hypontised
2. At the very end, I believe he drops a picture of his girlfriend indicating that she occupies a decent part of Richard's psyche. There is very little mention of this in your idea.

Neat theory on the 3 masked men though. I don't have any ideas for them yet.

Some thoughts of my own:

>EVERYTHING before Trauma is played out in Richard's mind. This includes the biker fight and by implication, possibly the biker himself. In killing the biker though, he would have cut off all possibility of learning about 50 blessings (who's level of real-ness I don't know) which may be a faded memory or his imagination placing characters in place to explain certain things. The biker may be a representation of a different part of Richards mind.
>As Richard starts to wake from his coma, his constructed reality starts to shatter as you can see with the speaking bodies and the absense of the friendly guy.
>Richard throws up after killing the bum due to it being his first kill. The mission just required a drop off but he was threatened by the bum.
>The friendly guy is Richard's self assurance. The part of your mind that stands beside you and makes sure you are ok. A kind of imaginary friend but without the conscious creation
>As he gets closer to waking, the friendly guy is replaced by his tormentor as he is starting to remember what has happened to him. The 3 masked men also comment on this change.


Hopefully with more opinions we can gain a better grip on what the hell is going on. Or just find an explaination good enough so we can stop worrying (like in real life).

Also posted at 4am :D
Robert J. Sullivan Oct 30, 2012 @ 2:00pm 
Just bumpin' this thread because I find it interesting, I'm pretty much with what the OP said and what has been said about the hippy store owner.
Only thing that I have a doubt with is that when playing helmet guy you can still kill the whole building before going to the CEO. Maybe there is something like a canon playthrough but still, it bothers me a bit.

Oh and by the way, how do you get the password to the PC in the last level ?
Kobest Oct 30, 2012 @ 4:15pm 
There's another, huge thread about the story analysis, so I suggest you continuing there! :)

Getting the password is pretty straightforward. In all of Jacket's chapters, there are really small, purple pixels that you have to collect on each level. The Owl mask helps you a lot, because it makes these float in the air, like guns do, for example. Each dot is a letter, and there's 16 of them total. On the chapter select menu, if you highlight chapter, next to the mask obtained, there's a small pixel that glows if you got the secret letter on that level.
hermanJnr. Oct 31, 2012 @ 2:33pm 
Originally posted by Robert J. Sullivan:
Only thing that I have a doubt with is that when playing helmet guy you can still kill the whole building before going to the CEO. Maybe there is something like a canon playthrough but still, it bothers me a bit.

I think either outcome of the player's choice makes sense. If The Biker doesn't kill all of the phone company employees, it's because he intentionally spares their lives out of a sense of morality.

On the other hand, if he kills all the employees it's likely because:

1: He wants to cover up the fact he is investigating the Cleaners so he doesn't get assassinated. This is also likely the reason he slaughters the Mafiya soldiers so readily. One of the calls to Richard mentions that he is being "watched" in menacing fashion, so it's likely that they're "watching" all their masked assassins to make sure none of them are figuring things out.

In fact, it's obvious they're watching what the Biker is up to, because they figure out what he's doing and send Richard to kill him!

Incidentally, it's likely this is also the reason the Cleaners ordered Rat guy to kill Richard and his girlfriend - because Richard was probably starting to have second thoughts with the guilt he was accumulating, and also starting to think negatively about his slaying of the Biker.

2. We don't know how many of the company employees were complicit in covering up the phone calls. While the other people in the building back off, that doesn't mean they're not guilty of helping propagate the murders. It probably took a lot of people to cover up phone calls involving hits by multiple assassins all over the place - the entire company could be a front for that purpose.
Feathers McGraw Jun 14, 2013 @ 3:32pm 
I could understand why you think that he was hypnotized but I prefer the idea of a much darker motivation for him joining.

I think that he joined because he just liked to hurt people (Which was the first question that the Rooster asked him). This would also explain the conversation the biker has with a man, who I would imagine is the '50 blessings' recruiter, where he says "You told me it would be exciting" which at least shows the bikers motivation for joining, that he thought it would be exciting. It would also make the whole deal with him in his own mind and being despised by the owl and the people he has killed that appear between levels (On a side note, I thought that the idea of him going into shops between missions was to show that the more people he killed, the more his massacres took over his life and his mind became much more unfriendly towards him.). Even though he could feel guilt from being hypnotized to kill, I feel that it would make more sense if he did it of his own free will, allowing us and himself to judge him.

This theory would also tie in with the ending in which the 'controllers' tell you that it was all just a game and just for fun.
Carlo Von Sexron Aug 15, 2013 @ 4:05pm 
in fact, when Richard (the one that talks to you inside Richard's mind) says "Before we say goodbye, I'll let you in on a secret... What you do from here on, won't serve any purpose. You will never see the whole picture... And it's all your own fault. Now it's time for you to leave. There's a warm bed across the hall from here" he means that killing the rest of the mobsters would end up on nothing, nothing would be really solved. KILLING THE BIKER, WOULD JUST PREVENT HIM FROM KNOWING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE 50 BLESSINGS, "You will never see the whole picture... And it's all your own fault" is the part that makes me think that way. The Biker story is just in another reality. In fact, Richter put Richard in the hospital, and in this reality, he's real. When Richard gets in the bar (not sure) and the clerk guy says that he feels that something bad is going to happen, (knowing that all this clerk guy thing happens inside his own head) he means that Richard is going to kill the Biker, who in fact is a GOOD guy, and would end up solving the calls thing.
Akaquidam Aug 15, 2013 @ 10:35pm 
Very interisting subject :)

Here is what I understood of Hotline Miami, this just my interpretation (excuse me if my English is approximate):


(I'll call the main character Jacket, and Beard the guy he meets after his missions)

From the beginning to "Trauma", all is in the mind of Jacket. He's in a coma, reconstructing himself and his memories.



The three Masks:

There is Don Juan, with the body of Jacket's girlfriend, Richard, looking like Jacket himself, and Rasmus, with the body of a Russian mobster.

I think they are respectively the Id, Ego, and SuperEgo of Jacket.

This is a Freudian concept:

"Id, ego and super-ego are the three parts of the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche; they are the three theoretical constructs in terms of whose activity and interaction mental life is described. According to this model of the psyche, the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends; the super-ego plays the critical and moralizing role; and the ego is the organized, realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego. The super-ego can stop you from doing certain things that your id may want you to do." Thank you Wikipedia^^



Biker vs Jacket:

The part when Biker is playable is what would happen IF Biker has killed Jacket.
It's a second storyline, to make the player understand Jacket mistake, and the truth about the phonecalls.



Why does 50 Blessings sent Richter to murder Jacket and his girl?

The girl was supposed to be killed with the others mobsters, she's a witness of a killing, she lives with the killer, she knows about the killings (she has access to the answering machine and to the articles Jacket keeps)...

Jacket showed weaknesses, and is no more reliable since he saved the girl and lives with her.



50 Blessings:

It seems to be a very powerfull organisation, with powerfull allies.

The phonecalls are an experiment of the two janitors alone, with the permission of 50 Blessings.

"All you gotta do to get people to do what you want them to is to make them think there'll be consequences if they don't"

Their members "must fill out a form in which they state that they're willing to die for the sake of the nation."

To become a member, a contact is necessary.

In the intro of SafeHouse, we can see the biker shaking a masked guy: "You helped me get into this mess!"
This is the contact of Biker.

Who is the contact of Jacket?



Beard and Richter:

Beard could be the contact with 50 Blessings for Jacket, the one that keeps an eye on him.
Think about his face, without hair and beard... He just looks like Richter.

The murder of Beard by Richter would be symbolic ("Someone you know isn't who you think he is")



About Jacket:

He's inspired by the main character of the movie "Drive" (a main influence in the game, the director is thanked in the ending credits).

In Drive, the guy is not a psycho at first sight. In fact he has a surprisingly extreme violence he contains. Because of that, he's lonely, and can't have a lovestory.

I think Jacket has probably the same state of mind, and has also a guilty conscience.



50 Blessings methods:

I don't know if they just threaten they members to make them obey...

The bloody mark on the ground where the killings stands place , the magic ritual in the HighBall stage, and the mystic symbols...

Maybe it's a reference to the Illuminatis, and MKUltra project (drug use for mental manipulation), to excite imagination :)
Carlo Von Sexron Aug 18, 2013 @ 8:38pm 
Akaquidam, really nice theory you brought about who keeps an eye on Richard (Jacket). Didn't think about that in the first run. About the "Someone you know isn't who you think he is", it can be about Beard/Richter, or it can be about Biker. Maybe, Biker has more to do with it, because Beard/Richter, in one of that encounters between the levels, he talks to Richard and says that something terrible happened/is about to happen, and it reminds us of: the assassination of Biker by himself.
Akaquidam Aug 19, 2013 @ 3:35am 
I just replayed this part and you're right...

I still think Beard is the contact of Jacket with 50 Blessings.

If Beard think about Biker when saying "something terrible has happened", so Richter would have killed him because of his friendship for Jacket.

Damn, I thought I began to understand... xD
Carlo Von Sexron Aug 19, 2013 @ 2:20pm 
Akaquidam, I believe too that Beard is the contact between Jacket and 50 Blessings. And we're just getting closer and closer to the real story, the real theory about this GREAT game.
rush99999 Jul 13 @ 8:52am 
The main character's name is Jacket, not Richard. Richard is the name of the rooster
Cassio Jul 13 @ 5:28pm 
Originally posted by rush99999:
The main character's name is Jacket, not Richard. Richard is the name of the rooster


Which is the default mask that Richard wears.
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