Last year, the team at Dennaton Games introduced the top-down action game called Hotline Miami for PC. In it, you portray a concentrated killer, wearing some form of animal mask while working your way through rooms filled with thugs, "offing" them in the most effective way possible. Though over-the-top violent, the game offered plenty of challenge for players who dared to enter its world. The game became a huge hit, and also found equal success when it arrived on PlayStation 3 and PS Vita earlier this year.
Dennaton Games will wrap up the saga in style with Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, which will introduce more characters, bigger levels, and, most importantly, more thugs to wipe the floor with. Yes, this is the last game in the series, but the developer assures that it'll go out with a bang.
Along with the Jacket, the speechless killer from the original game, Wrong Number also introduces new ones. When you first begin, you're introduced to the ruthless Pig Butcher, who works his way through a series of sequences for an upcoming movie called "Midnight Animal." He'll act in the same manner as the Jacket, strategically working his way through each room and destroying each thug that could easily end his run, either by taking them out with one hit or knocking them out and smashing their face into the ground.
After that, we're introduced to the Fans, a group of wannabes that idolize the Jacket's actions from the first games. Though not as skilled as him, they still act like him as best as they can, completing thug killing missions in their own way.
Most of the gameplay tactics from the original Hotline Miami make their return for Wrong Number. The game still plays in top-down fashion, where you can look around each level and strategically plan your next move. Keep in mind, though, that thugs act on a moment's notice if something's amiss. If you let loose with a shotgun blast, for example, they'll come charging into the room, forcing you to either act quickly to dispatch them, or taste their hard justice.
It's best to work at a slow, quiet pace in Wrong Number, unless the situation calls for it. There are several melee weapons strewn throughout, including a baseball bat, a frying pan, and others. These are good for running in quickly and delivering a strike on an unsuspecting foe, or maybe even someone who's casually sitting on a toilet. You'll want to make sure they're dead with a quick head slam, though, because otherwise they'll get up and continue to pose a threat to you.
As with the original game, you only have one hit. Even if it's something as simple as someone coming up and punching you, once they do so, you're dead. So you'll need to plan carefully, or else you'll end up a bloodstain alongside the other corpses laid out in each level.
You do have an advantage, though – animal masks. They not only make you look intimidating, but also provide a small power-up to your character that others could not. Wearing the zebra mask, for instance, enables you to climb through windows, opening up the level further than you would using any other character. The tiger mask is also very good, letting you knock out enemies with one punch.
To make sure that players didn't use one mask throughout the game, Dennaton has added drawbacks for each mask. When we played with the Tiger mask, for example, we enjoyed brandishing his newfound power, but found we couldn't pick up any weapons as a result – which makes things trickier when it comes to dealing with a room filled with gun-toting thugs. Some people prefer that challenge, and you know who you are.
Like Hotline Miami, Wrong Number features strong level structure, allowing you to take one of several routes through a building to clear it out. Its 8-bit style presentation also returns, with visuals and music that come across like an NES product – even if it's way bloodier. This makes it easy to navigate through each stage and plan your course of attack, even though you're still likely to die often. This is Hotline Miami, after all.
Still, if it's too easy for you – and we know a few of you who might feel this way – Wrong Number has one more advantage. The game will include a new hard mode, in which you'll have to contend with stronger enemies, with less weapons scattered throughout each stage and the inability to lock onto them. To unlock this, you'll need to achieve a C+ rating or better on a level. Good luck.
While its general design remains unchanged, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number promises to be a bigger and bloodier sequel, with more characters, more tactics with the masks, and, most importantly, more unfortunate thugs to send to the morgue. It wouldn't be Hotline Miami style without that, now would it?
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number will arrive in 2014 for PC, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.