You wake up, you get a call, you kill people. You wake up, you get a call, you kill people. Such may seem to be the gentle tediousness of Hotline Miami but underneath this rut remains an ostentatious display of style and substance. The murders are gruesome, the environment equally so. But what may lack in high budget production of a higher level developer backed publisher comes the heart and soul that makes up the identity of the game. The ever looping synth music that plays throughout the levels drones on but doesn't tire, the core mechanic of popping through doors just to run and gun only to be defeated by a quick punch of a thug doesn't wear. But there's still a charm about it.

You will die a lot in this game. With death comes knowledge, and with that knowledge you slowly grasp not only the controls but the mindset required to tackle each situation. Given the display of a twin stick shooter and the controls to match, one may have difficulty controlling the looseness at first that comes from WASD controls and a mouse (versus that of a toggle stick), but reloads are quick and even technical error doesn't feel like a reason to stop. A controller option has been made available however whether the fluidity in which you move is affected is rather unknown. In essence, practice makes perfect.

With each phone call the player receives, little is given in terms of story information. A little here and there about what you think is happening, a jack of the trade red-head to give you some "on the house" items because you look like you're having a hard day. Nothing seems for sure and doesn't tie up quite like I would have hoped, even given the spectacular twist for the game's conclusion and epilogue portion. Despite all this though, you still play a questionable role within the context of the game's "fiction" because without much sense or purpose you play very much so a serial killer.

The gameplay I found to be addictive, a simple scheme of using your weapon, throwing or changing your weapon, and then motion with context sensitive kills. Masks you acquire throughout the game are not only a great reason to replay and make sure you collect every one like in a collect-a-thon, but they also add a reasonable mix up in the way you might tackle a situation. Some allow instant deaths when knocking doors into opponents while others could be as benign as to give you a drill to start out with. Each is unique to the animal's mask you are wearing, which in itself is a creepy appeal for your masked killer.

The visuals are 8-bit inspired which not only works perfectly with the 80's vibe that the game tries to create, but also complements the electronic synth music that is ever present throughout a level and during cut scene portions. Some may find them to be an eye sore while I found it to simply add charm to an otherwise less than unique take on the twin stick genre. While one shot deaths may seem like a tragedy it is far enough a reason not to give this game a go. What can be mistaken for as difficulty often is misinterpreted and is the result of lack of persistence. For all the minor technical difficulties that can happen at the onset of the game, there is a much deeper identity at which the game tackles and overall achieves. When all I wanted to do was spend 15 minutes playing a game and blow off some steam, I always was able to quickly start up Hotline Miami, get my fix, and wait until that twitch to play it again comes back to haunt me.