Review: Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
Hotline Miami 2 is the only game that can make me incredibly angry and happy at the same time. It straddles the line between frustrating and fun, but always ends up falling closer to fun. From the first level I was completely hooked, and couldn’t stop playing until the end. It’s got a few problems to sort out that have popped up since the last game, but Dennaton has pulled off another extraordinary game in Hotline Miami 2.
Hotline Miami is a game about killing. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s all about the blood, gore, and violence in these games. Instead of following two characters like the last game Hotline Miami follows a cast of several different people in an overarching storyline. The story is incredibly weird, and follows people such as serial killers, investigators, and actors who are all connected in some way. The game makes you question what’s real and what isn’t and always makes you wonder whether it is fiction or reality. It’s incredibly interesting and adds an eeriness to the overall experience.
Having this cast of characters allows for a much more diversified experience on the gameplay front as well. The original game had you running around as the same guy over and over again with different masks giving him small perks that could be used to make the level slightly easier to finish or much harder depending on the mask. In Hotline Miami 2 there is a plethora of different character types and alterations that really spice up the gameplay.
One of the most interesting of these in my opinion is two characters called Alex and Ash, that are tied together by an invisible rope of sorts a la the Ice Climbers. One has a chainsaw and one has a pistol so that melee and long range fighting is allowed at the same time. It’s super cool and I loved getting to play as that character when I had the chance. On the flip side of things there is one time in particular where the way a level was designed made for an incredibly frustrating difficulty spike. I had to play as an investigative writer who hadn’t killed or done anything violent before. To fit his personality you had to use only “non-lethal” weapons to finish the job. It was incredibly difficult to maneuver through the level and the ability to not use guns of anything lethal proved to be annoying as it sounds. While most of the time the character variation made the game different and fun to play, there were a few parts that were ruined because of changing the core mechanics too much.
Levels designed like the first game are the ones that really shine and give the most consistent fun. These levels have no gimmicks and are just quick and adrenaline-pumping fun. However some of this is taken away because of the much larger level design than the first game in some areas. Combos are much harder to rack up because of the more open style of the game. There isn’t as much rapid killing from room-to-room anymore, and it is replaced with a more peek-a-boo like stealthy style of a game. This has its merits, but leaves me wanting more of the quick style from the last game. Also a lot of the time I would be killed by people I couldn’t even see on the screen. Dennaton tries to fix this with the new look feature, but while running and trying to continue a combo you can’t really use this for much. It’s a neat feature for trying to finish the levels, but when going for combos and high scores it’s practically useless.
The game comes with its share of technical issues too. Many times enemies would get caught in doors or stuck on the walls where I couldn’t kill them. Then they would magically come loose and kill me. It’s incredibly frustrating to make your way through a level and have a glitching enemy kill you and it took some of the fun out of playing. Also AI didn’t really know how to react sometimes in these large spaces, which meant winning was sometimes just a matter of luck. One of the more drastic hiccups I experienced came when I was playing a level and none of the enemies would notice or even come after me. I was still able to kill them and ended up finishing the level without being noticed. The game definitely could have used some more polish to make it feel more like a finished product and give it a smoother feel.
The music, just like the last game, was a definite plus. The soundtrack features songs from people you’ve probably never heard of such as El Tigr3, Magna, and Jasper Byrne. These handpicked songs go perfectly with the feel of every level and make the killing all the more fun. The art in the game is very similar to the first game; and still gorgeous. It’s a very colorful and engaging game to look at, and definitely works with the gameplay that’s offered.
Hotline Miami 2 has its issues, but it’s still a standout game. Everything is still really fun and the game’s overall experience is one that I think should be played by all. Technical issues and some level design flaws aside, I had a blast with Dennaton’s new Hotline game, and I think you would too.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Awesome gameplay
- Soundtrack is great
- Colorful art style
- Mysterious story
What I Dislike:
- Levels are more open than before.
- Some character variations just didn't work.
- Technical hiccups.