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Let's Talk Games- Hotline Miami

Let's Talk Games- Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami is a top-down shooter video game initially released for Microsoft Windows in 2012. Since then, it has been adapted for release across multiple platforms, including the PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Android, Xbox and Nintendo Switch, with its most recent import being released in 2020 for Stadia. The single-player game puts you in the shoes of an unnamed, silent protagonist (dubbed by the fanbase as “Jacket”) and chronicles your missions against the Russian mafia in a story divided across twenty chapters. Critically acclaimed, this cult classic is the focus of Adilsons’ first Gamers’ Insight for 2022! What follows is a spoiler-free overview of the game intended to give our readers an introduction to a masterpiece that has cemented itself into the foundation of modern era PC games and gaming culture.

I first got word of Hotline Miami back in 2015, when it was suggested to me by some classmates. Incidentally, this was around the same time that Spooky’s House of Jumpscares had grown extremely popular due to Markiplier’s walkthrough, and 15-year-old me decided to obsess over the horror game instead. Hotline Miami found itself chucked at the bottom of a list of gaming commitments I’d never honour. It wasn’t until last week that I’d stumble upon the game again and fully come to realise what I’d been missing out on all along: blood, guts and brain-matter galore- the game holds nothing back. Before we get to the sanguineous details however, let’s first understand what the Hotline Miami experience is all about.


Pixelated and top-down in design, the game is evidently reminiscent of arcade games: a fact driven home by its soundtrack and storytelling, both of which evoke a strong 1980s vibe. Each chapter is preceded by an interactive sequence of events which lead up to the actual gameplay; in most cases, this entails Jacket receiving phone calls (at his home) from an unknown caller instructing him through heavy use of euphemistic language to dispose of the Russian mafia members. Both the motive behind the calls and Jacket’s reasons for obeying them without question remain unknown to the player until the later chapters of the game, where these questions (and more!) are answered through the perspective of another character. The furthest we’ll venture in this spoiler-free interview is to assure the reader of one thing: better have a keen eye for details, because the game won’t bottle-feed its player-base any answers. Easter eggs and subtle hints are part and parcel of the genuine Hotline Miami experience; much more than any 1980s arcade game could ever deliver!


The missions are simple enough to understand but often difficult to accomplish; the game doesn’t follow a fixed formula of increasing difficulties across chapters, with chapter 10 being well-known as the most difficult mission of them all. The unrelenting viciousness of the mafia (who would’ve guessed, right?) is nothing to be scoffed at either; expect to retry a chapter multiple times before you manage to find a technique that works. Truly, the only thing worth fearing in the game is the protagonist himself (it’s still no Doom though)! Bloody, vicious and filled with violence, Hotline Miami is not recommended for younger audiences, with the lowest permissible age rating being 16 years (New Zealand, UK and Brazil) in selected territories. Sexual experiences are hinted at, but never mentioned explicitly. Deaths are intimate, horrific and require active participation from the player; swearing is present as well. It is for this reason that I’d recommend younger children not be exposed to the game, despite its pixelated graphics.

As for the actual levels, the general aim is always to progress through different maps with the intent to absolutely decimate any rival crossing your path. Boss battles are unexpected and often extremely difficult to manoeuvre through; there isn’t any difficulty setting on the game either, meaning everyone’s Hotline Miami experience is just as brutal. The average time you’ll need to invest in order to beat the game is 6 and a half hours, although it can exceed 14 hours for the completionist. There’s no such thing as perfection in this game and the tips clearly instruct the player not to fear death; make of that what you will, and you’ll still be wrong! Merely beating a level isn’t always enough: at the end of every ordeal, your score will be tallied and you’ll receive a grade based on your performance. Want an A+ on every level? Fins a way to be reckless, vicious and efficient- all at once!


Hotline Miami is by no means an easy game. The lack of difficulty settings does nothing to alleviate this issue either. Fortunately, regardless of how short your fuse is, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll quit the game at any point: Hotline Miami has a unique way of maintaining its charm, even during its less tolerable moments. Death will do little to impede your journey unless you aim on finishing the game in a single sitting. Skill, at least in this game, takes an entirely different meaning as the only mode of learning at your disposal is trial and error. Both through its storyline and gameplay, Hotline Miami will keep your heart racing in ways you never imagined pixels could; just don’t expect it to be an easy ride.

If you have a system released any time after 2008, chances are it can run Hotline Miami. Listed below are the minimum system requirements for the game.

  • CPU SPEED: 1.2 GHz
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • OS: Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / 7
  • VIDEO CARD: DirectX 8-compatible graphics card with at least 32MB of video memory
  • STORAGE: 580 MB
In an interview concerning piracy conducted by Eurogamer, Graeme Struthers of Devolver Digital (the game publisher) went on record to say: “It has been torrented to such a staggering level, and given the file size of it, I mean, you can't really be surprised, right? You could pass this thing around on the world's smallest memory stick. So it has been torrented to extraordinary levels.”

While Adilsons strictly discourages piracy and supports the intellectual rights of developers, we found it particularly humorous to find a publisher making such a statement on their own game.


Hotline Miami has a lot of things going for it; great story, bold graphics and unique aesthetics all packaged in a byte-sized program have made it one of the most successful PC games of this century and it was my pleasure to experience the journey for myself, even though I was 7 years late to the bloodbath.

Gameplay: 5/5
Graphics: 5/5
Design: 5/5

Can’t wait to try the sequel today!
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