Hotline Miami is a bloody, addictive and incredibly fun game that both celebrates and condemns violent video games. Its sequel, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, takes everything good about the previous game to whole new levels of cringe-inducing violence and fast-paced action. We know that because when we visited the booth of Devolver Digital in Gamescom 2014, we also played a short demo of the game – animal masks and all.
The first level we played was one from The Fans campaign. They are a group of people who look up to the protagonist of the first Hotline Miami, and wish to continue his work. To do so, The Fans wear animal masks and go out to beat up and kill random criminals and thugs. In the demo we could choose from four different Fans: Mark’s bear mask lets him wield dual SMGs and aim at two different targets; Tony brings back the tiger mask, which grants him lethal fists just like in the original game, but doesn’t allow him to pick up any weapons; Corey wears a zebra mask and can roll around to evade bullets and lethal blows; the siblings Alex and Ash both don swan masks and play together as one character – one carrying a chainsaw and the other a pistol.
Naturally I had to check out how what’s it like to play with two characters at once, so I picked Alex and Ash. Alex was the one leading the two, with Ash following close behind, waving a pistol around. It doesn’t feel all that different from playing just one character, but it really reassuring to know you can use both melee and range attacks at any time, without delay. Another nice touch is that once Ash runs out of bullets, he will pick up the first one-handed gun he’ll come across.
When playing as one of The Fans, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number plays a lot like its predecessor. You enter a level, kill everybody in it, go up a floor and repeat. Once every living creature in the level is dead, you walk back down to your vehicle and drive away. However, now the violence is much more graphic with more blood splatters, guts and disturbing visuals. Hit a mobster with a chain (one of the new melee weapons in the game) and he’ll fall on the floor in a heap of broken bones, limbs contorted in angles so unnatural you’ll have no choice but to cringe. Decapitation is now also something you can do to your enemies, and since I was using a chainsaw to go through most of them, that happened quite a lot. Once the head comes off, you can kick it around like a football for good measures.
Once everyone was gutted, beheaded or generally bereft of life, the two sibling were free to return to their car and leave the killing grounds, and the demo, behind them.
When talking to the developers afterwards, we were promised their will be at least two other story arches that play somewhat differently than that of The Fans, though we were not told how. We saw a brief level with one new character the developers refused to introduce. All we know is that he is more resilient than others, and can take a bullet or two before going down.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number appears to be every bit as awesome as its predecessor and then some. What we saw at Gamescom 2014 might be just a little too similar to the original, but to tell you the truth I was having so much fun playing the game that I didn’t really care. It will be interesting to see how the other characters will play, and how the different plot lines will tie together when the game launches on PS4 and PC later this year.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.