For context, Hotline Miami is one of my favorite indie games of all time. I went through and A+ed every level recently and it was one of the best gaming experiences of last year for me.
Hotline Miami 2 made me depressed. Not in the way that hyperbolic reviewers love to throw around - I mean I legitimately had problems getting out of bed and enjoying life for about three days after I first played it. The only artistic experience that I could compare it to is reading the latter short stories of J.D. Salinger, watching as his work descended into self-indulgent incomprehensibility.
I'm used to sequels failing to innovate on their well-worn ideas; what's surprising is a game that manages to so thoroughly undo what made its predecessor great at every turn. The game basically forces you to use guns exclusively for most levels, which turns its improvisational, seat-of-your-pants combat into the forgettable substages from Contra 3. Everything about it is too much - from weapons to characters to level size, the game consistently confuses "bigger" for "better" to a level usually reserved for Ubisoft titles. It's enough to make you wonder if the game is supposed to be a 22 Jump Street-esque parody of video game sequels. If it is, then it might be the best that the medium has ever seen.
I could never quite decide if Hotline Miami's plot was an insightful aesthetic puzzle or simply pretention for pretension's sake. Luckily, this game's approach settles the issue quite nicely, because it's complete garbage. It's the kind of story that expects the reader/player to keep a detailed flowchart to keep track of its web of characters but forgets to name (let alone develop) half of them in the process. Dennaton, it's nice that you like Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, but there's a lot more to pulp or even experimental storytelling than just stringing together surrealistic episodes and making your lifeless characters off one another.
I don't recommend this game to anyone. Newcomers will be put off by the game's insular construction and relentless difficulty, and fans (like me) will be let down by its inability to replicate any of the magic the original had. In short, don't call back.