I just finished playing a preview build of Hotline Miami, the new game by Cactus.
It is really, really good.
First off, there’s no release date yet, though I heard from a rep at Gamescom that it can’t be more than a couple of months out. Secondly, it is really really fucking good. It’s a kind-of stealth, kind-of shooter, kind-of beatemup hybrid that’s all about extremely quick and lethal combat. You, as well as the bad guys, all die in one hit. Combined with the top-down camera angle, which allows you to survey huge portions of the map before exposing yourself to danger, the early game is all about planning and executing quick, precise and extremely gruesome attacks on your enemies.
Say there are three guys in a room, all with shotguns — one at the far end, one by the door, one sitting in the corner on a couch. And let’s say, you only have a knife.You might want to kick the door down (flattening the first guard standing next to it), toss your knife at the second guard (instantly killing him), then rush the third guard before he can get his ass off the couch. You might snap his neck with one button press, then run back to the first guard by the door and curbstomp his head into bloody paste before he can get up.
Or maybe you’ll fuck one part of that plan up and things will go to hell. That’s okay, though — should you die, respawning is instant and painless, and should you live, you get to panic and improvise and punch wildly at dudes and throw guns at people and slit their throats and grab a gun and shoot the last guy and oh shit the gunfire is drawing enemies now you’ve gotta camp the door and blast the first two guys that come in shit you’re out of ammo get in close and grab the guns off one of the fallen enemies and fire fire fire oh god so much blood I love you game.
It’s a slight disappointment that the latter levels seem to incentivize around running around and mindlessly thwacking everyone with a baseball bat (since melee weapons are silent, and gun-toting baddies are kind of slow to react) but I find it hard to care about niggles like that. The swift, brutal pleasures Hotline Miami offers are honestly unlike any I’ve experienced in videogames before. Hotline Miami is so clearly and simply brilliant, so obviously fun, that I can’t help but wonder why it’s taken us this long to see a game like this. It’s easily Cactus’s best game, and considering the guy made Clean Asia!, that’s saying a hell of a lot.