Hotline Miami

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Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami cover.png
Cover artwork by Niklas Åkerblad
Developer(s)Dennaton Games
Abstraction Games (PS3, PS4, PSVita)
Publisher(s)Devolver Digital
Designer(s)Jonatan Söderström
Dennis Wedin
EngineGame Maker
(Win, Mac, Lin)
(PS3, PSVita)[1]
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
PlayStation Vita
Release date(s)
Genre(s)Action, top-down shooter
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Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami cover.png
Cover artwork by Niklas Åkerblad
Developer(s)Dennaton Games
Abstraction Games (PS3, PS4, PSVita)
Publisher(s)Devolver Digital
Designer(s)Jonatan Söderström
Dennis Wedin
EngineGame Maker
(Win, Mac, Lin)
(PS3, PSVita)[1]
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
PlayStation Vita
Release date(s)
Genre(s)Action, top-down shooter

Hotline Miami is a 2D top-down action video game by Dennaton Games, a team composed of Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin. The game was published by Devolver Digital and released on October 23, 2012 for Microsoft Windows.[2] The game blends top down perspective with stealth, extreme violence and surreal storytelling, along with a soundtrack and visuals influenced by 1980s culture. The game itself was influenced in part by Nicolas Winding Refn's 2011 neo-noir crime drama film Drive, as well as Cocaine Cowboys;[3] Refn is specifically thanked in the game's credits, and the game even features a similar "Driver" jacket lying on the floor in several levels.[4]


Hotline Miami is divided into several chapters, each of which is further broken down into several stages. At the start of most chapters, the unnamed protagonist wakes up in his apartment and listens to cryptic messages on his answering machine. These messages tell him to perform an arbitrary task at a certain location, which in each case is inferred as a metaphor for killing every person at that location, such as giving VIPs of a hotel a 'great stay'. Prior to commencing a mission, the player is asked to select an animal mask to wear, each of which provides unique advantages or handicaps. In each stage, the player navigates a building from a top-down perspective, and the goal is almost always to kill every opponent therein. Occasionally the player must also defeat a boss at the end of the chapter or find key items as they explore, but most levels are very straightforward. Some levels will also include hidden masks for the player to find along the way. The player has access to a wide variety of melee, thrown, and ranged weapons, and will need to handle challenges through either stealthy tactics or overwhelming force. However, the player character is no more resilient than the enemies, so mistakes are usually fatal. Enemy AI varies slightly, causing them to occasionally move unpredictably, making it difficult to plan a perfect approach. To make up for this, the game allows the player to restart each stage the moment they die, allowing them to quickly fine-tune their approach over several attempts. The game grades the player's performance at the end of each chapter based on a number of factors, also granting them points that unlock more weapons, and may also unlock additional masks depending on their score.



Hotline Miami employs an unreliable narrator and events are sometimes presented out of chronological order. The player takes the role of an unknown man; he is frequently referred to as "Jacket" by fans due to his distinctive letterman jacket, but he is never referred to by this or any other name in the game. He is plagued by visions involving three masked strangers who discuss his identity and actions. The first is a man who wears Jacket's clothes and a rooster mask ('Richard') and asks him cryptic questions, the second is a woman wearing a horse mask ('Don Juan') who expresses concern over his mental state, and the third is a mobster who wears an owl mask ('Rasmus') and expresses disgust at his behavior.

Jacket wakes up in his apartment on April 3, 1989. He receives a voicemail about a supposed delivery of 'cookies' to his home. Jacket finds a package outside which contains a rooster mask and instructions to steal, and then deliver, a briefcase. The instructions encourage him to murder the criminals in possession of the case. After delivering the briefcase, he is attacked by a homeless man. After killing him, he removes his mask and vomits. Jacket continues to get more voicemails, each of which is the setting for a new level. After each level, he stops at either a bar, pizza place, or video store. He finds the same bearded man working at each store, who gives him encouragement and everything he wants free of charge. Following a voicemail directing him to the estate of a movie producer, Jacket rescues a drugged girl who was being sexually abused and brings her home. Eventually, he begins a relationship with the woman, while continuing to murder mobsters at the request of the voicemails.

After a few missions, Jacket receives a phone call insisting he come to the phone company's office to deal with a 'prank caller'. When he arrives, he finds everyone dead except for a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, searching the company's files. The two fight, the outcome of which splits the story along two paths.

Jacket's interpretation

Jacket kills the Biker before returning to his car. Following this, Jacket's version of events becomes increasingly surreal, with the dead bodies of the men he's killed appearing around his apartments and the stores he visits after each 'job', although his girlfriend and the clerk fail to notice them. Jacket continues the 'jobs' and almost gets caught when SWAT officers raid a building in which he was fighting. After escaping, Jacket stops at the deli only to find the body of the Biker on the floor. The clerk tells Jacket that "none of this is real," and instantly, the Biker is gone and the man is oblivious to what just happened. Soon after, the clerk is found dead in every store he worked in and replaced by a bloodstained bald man, Richter, who is unfriendly towards Jacket and gives him nothing.

Jacket continues to murder people as ordered, until he arrives home from one mission to find his girlfriend murdered, and a man in a rat mask on his couch, who acknowledges Jacket before shooting him in the head. The scene cuts to a darkened dream-state apartment where he finds his corpse on the floor, with Richard seated on the couch in lieu of the shooter. Richard says that this will be their last meeting, that his actions from here on won't serve any purpose, and that he will never see the full picture. Jacket's clothes turn into hospital clothing as he walks across the hallway and into the apartment opposite, where he sees himself lying in a hospital bed.

Jacket awakens in a hospital, overhearing that he has been comatose for weeks, and that police have the rat-masked man in custody. Injured, Jacket escapes the hospital and returns to his apartment, only to find it and his car ransacked. He changes back into his regular clothing and assaults the police station. He finds out that the man in the rat mask is Richter, who says that he received the same phone calls. Jacket can then choose whether or not to strangle Richter, after which he discovers the address of the head of the Russian mafia.

Jacket arrives at the address and rampages through the building killing everyone, including the mobster boss. The game ends with Jack tossing a photograph off the balcony, smoking a cigarette.

The Biker's interpretation

Following the game's conclusion, the player is given the opportunity to play as the Biker, who is revealed to be receiving the same phone calls as Jacket. However, he eventually becomes less willing to follow their instructions, and attempts to end his affiliation with the group. His investigation into the source leads him to the phone company. After the Biker investigates the company's files, Jacket arrives. In this version, however, the Biker defeats Jacket . The Biker then travels to the Russian mafia headquarters. Spotting a janitor retreating into the basement, the Biker follows him and discovers a room full of masks and phones. It is revealed that two janitors (who are essentially creator cameos) have been setting up the killings. Depending on their actions, the player will be given one of two possible endings:

Regardless of which ending is obtained, the player may then kill the pair or let them live; an action which bears no impact in the game. The Biker leaves on his motorcycle before the credits roll a second time.


Most of these names are unofficial because they were not named in-game.



The biggest influence on the game's story was David Lynch. Other influences on the story were the 2011 film Drive. Gordon Freeman, the silent protagonist from the Half-Life series, was also of influence.[5] They attained this inspiration by watching movies pre-development.

Super Carnage[edit]

Hotline Miami was a spiritual successor to an unreleased game called Super Carnage. Jonatan Söderström started working on the game when he was 18, describing it as a top-down shoot-em-up in which the aim was to kill as many people as possible. The project was cancelled following difficulties programming the game's artificial intelligence's (AI) pathfinding.

Söderström later met a man called Dennis Wedin, singer and keyboard player in the metalcore band Fucking Werewolf Asso. They collaborated on a promotional game for the band called Life/Death/Island, which was again cancelled.

Söderström and Wedin decided that their next game would be a commercial release, due to financial difficulties. They saw Super Carnage and its potential as a game. They decided to expand upon this, and thus they started developing Hotline Miami.[6]

Marketing and release[edit]

Leading up to the release of Hotline Miami, Devolver Digital opened a phone line in Miami, Florida to enable people to call and leave voice messages of their own. Some time after the official release of the game in late October 2012, a trailer was created using these recordings.[7]

In early November 2012, an update for the game added support for gamepad control, multiple bug fixes, a few gameplay tweaks, graphical adjustments, and a new bonus map called 'Highball'.[8]

By mid-December 2012, the game's publisher, Devolver Digital, revealed that 130,000 copies of the game had been sold in the seven weeks since it launched. In an interview at Eurogamer, project manager Graeme Struthers was "chuffed to bits" for Hotline Miami creators Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin, adding that “those are some talented boys.”[9]

In an interview with Pocket Gamer, Söderström was quoted as saying that his team had been talking to Sony about bringing the game to PlayStation devices – including the PlayStation Vita – although they would require a third party to port it for them. The creators were also considering porting the game to iOS and Android touchscreen devices,[10] but on July 23, 2013, in response to a question on Twitter regarding if Hotline Miami would ever be ported to iOS devices, the developers replied "Nope. Controls would suck.".[11] As of December 5, 2012, the Twitter account for the game indicated that a Mac version is close to completion.[12] The Mac version was released on March 19, 2013.

In mid-February 2013, Devolver Digital and developer Dennaton Games confirmed that the game would be coming to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita in the summer of the same year. The title would be Cross-Buy, allowing those who have purchased the game on either Vita or PlayStation 3 to play it across both platforms, only having to buy it once. The port was handled by Abstraction Games shifting from Game Maker engine to PhyreEngine and featured enhanced controls, an extra unlockable mask, and online leaderboards. These features were later added for existing PC owners as a patch.[13] It was also revealed that, at this point, over 300,000 copies of the game had been sold.[14]

On May 28, 2013, it was featured on the eighth Humble Indie Bundle as one of the games offered if paying above the average amount. The Linux version for Hotline Miami was released concurrently with the bundle as at that time.

On the night of June 24, 2013, the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita version of Hotline Miami was released early, due to scheduled maintenance of the PlayStation Network. On March 24, 2014, Devolver Digital announced that the game would be headed to the PlayStation 4 with cross-buy support. The PlayStation 4 version of Hotline Miami was released on August 19, 2014.[15]

On September 11, 2014, Overkill Software, the developers of Payday 2, released an announcement on Steam that there would be a downloadable content pack based on Hotline Miami released on September 30 as a collaboration between Dennaton Games and Overkill Software.[16] Two days later, owners of Payday 2 would receive a coupon that allows -50% off on Hotline Miami, and vice versa, to promote both games. These coupons would be valid until September 29.[17]


The Hotline Miami Official Soundtrack can be found on Devolver Digital's SoundCloud account.[18] It was later made available to purchase on Valve Corporation's digital distribution platform, Steam.[19] Although the soundtrack is available for purchase, all of the music files can be found within the game folder in Ogg Vorbis format (albeit often in edited versions).


Critical reception[edit]

Aggregate scores
GameRankings(PS4) 90.00%[20]
(Vita) 89.17%[21]
(PS3) 86.06%[22]
(PC) 85.33%[23]
Metacritic(PS3) 87/100[24]
(Vita) 85/100[25]
(PC) 85/100[26]
Review scores
Game Informer7.75/10[29]
GamesRadar4/5 stars[30]
PC Gamer UK86/100[33]

Hotline Miami received positive reviews. On aggregate review websites GameRankings and Metacritic, the game attains scores of 85.33% and 85 out of 100, respectively.[23][26] Much praise was given to its neon-soaked depiction of 1980s underground Miami, overflowing with raw brutality and ultraviolent close combat as the player finds himself outgunned and using his wits to choreograph a way through impossible situations. The game's soundtrack was lauded for accentuating the already heightened tension and gritty violence.

Eurogamer scored the game 10/10, with reviewer Tom Bramwell saying that the game was a blend of elements, all of which are integral to the overall experience.[28]

PopMatters scored the PlayStation 3 version of the game 9/10, reviewer Eric Swain wrote "Hotline Miami is still an introspective surrealist dive into the mind of a maniac who lives within the neon gloss of the late '80s. You still go around killing groups of thugs at the behest of a voice on the other side of the phone calls, which is somehow sufficient to addle you into killing everyone you find at an address that that voice provides. You still choose an animal mask to wear before entering these kill zones, and you still have a variety of weapons at your disposal to stab, shoot, and bludgeon your way through crowds of Russian thugs and the police."[35]

IGN gave the game a score of 8.8/10 emphasizing its "striking blend of fast ultraviolence, a dense, challenging story and brilliant presentation." In its final verdict for the game, the reviewer Charles Onyett stated "Hotline Miami '​s momentum of mystery builds right up to its finale, where snarling cynicism is offered as a justification for why all this machinery of neon fuzz and thumping bass, bright blood and fractured identity was started up in the first place. Yet the justification is also disarmingly simple, the same reason why quarters were dropped into arcade machines built during the late '80s era Dennaton Games so clearly reveres. Why bother with Hotline Miami? Because it exists. Because it's fun. Because it deserves to be played."[32]


The game received the 'Best PC Sound of the Year' accolade by IGN in its end of year awards (2012).[36] It was also nominated for the 'Best PC Action Game', 'Best PC Story' and 'Best PC Game of the Year', in addition to awards for the 'Best Overall Action Game of the Year',[37] 'Best Overall Music of the Year' and 'Best Overall Game of the Year'.[38][39][40][41][42]

It was the recipient of both Eurogamer's and Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Game of the Show award at their inaugural Rezzed expo.[43][44] On December 24, 2012, PC Gamer awarded the game with "The Best Music of the Year 2012".[45] At's fourth annual Inside Gaming Daily Awards for 2012 the game received the award for most original game.[46]

Hotline Miami also won 'Best New IP', 'Best Gameplay' and 'Best Soundtrack' at the 2012 Vidya Gaem Awards, and received several nominations in other categories.[47]


Jonatan Söderström has responded to complaints and questions on file-sharing website The Pirate Bay under the name 'cactus69', providing advice for users who are experiencing problems with pirated copies of the game. Söderström has made a post on Twitter admitting that whilst he does not want anyone to pirate the game, he can empathise with the fact that some people may not be able to afford it.[48]

When questioned about piracy issues by Eurogamer, Graeme Struthers of Devolver Digital said "He (Söderström) just felt he didn't want people playing the buggy version of his game however they got it. He wanted them to get the patch. He basically said, 'I'm not going to criticise this, it's a fact of life. It would be nice if guys could find it within themselves to pay for it, but that's the world I'm in, so you know, you just have to take it for what it is.' 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."[9]


In an interview with Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin at Eurogamer, the creators shed some light on possible new future game content.[49] When prompted with the question of upcoming downloadable content, the creators revealed "I think we're going to do quite a big project. It will probably be about as long as the full game, so probably we'll charge something for it. It will be like a sequel kind of, but building on the story. We don't want to reveal too much, but it will probably have more playable characters than the first game did. And a couple of different stories and angles. A lot of people have been asking about a map editor to build their own stages, so we're looking at if it's possible to do that. I think it would be really cool to let people do their own stages."

In late November 2012, Söderström tweeted "Working while listening to the sweet tunes of a preliminary Hotline Miami 2 soundtrack that we've put together during the weekend."[50] He later clarified that it was only really the music that he was dealing with at the time and that, "We only have some general plans for the next game".[51] In terms of the new soundtrack, Söderström said "I'm not sure for the second game yet. Last time we had nine different musicians doing the soundtrack. Looks like a couple of them might do more tracks for the sequel, but we've been looking at some other bands as well. Want to keep it fresh."[52]

Hinting that the sequel may be some way off, Söderström insisted that he was still committed to working on patching and fixing the original game. The official Hotline Miami Twitter released photographs revealing the title screen of the sequel, revealing its full title, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. On June 19, 2013 the first teaser trailer for the sequel was released on the Devolver Digital YouTube channel. The game was initially announced for 2014[53] but is now expected to be released in 2015.[54]


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  3. ^
  4. ^ Drive "Driver" jacket laying in floor
  5. ^ Saraintaris, Nico (3 July 2014). "We Ask Indies: Cactus, creator of Hotline Miami and tons of other weird titles". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Making Of: Hotline Miami". Edge. Future plc. June 30, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  7. ^ Hotline Miami checks its voicemail – Destructoid
  8. ^ Hotline Miami Gets Controller Support – IGN
  9. ^ a b The Hotline Miami sales story, and more • News • PC •
  10. ^ Hotline Miami dev talking to Sony about bringing the super-violent indie hit to Vita | Hotline Miami news | PlayStation Vita | Pocket Gamer
  11. ^ Twitter
  12. ^ Twitter / HotlineMiami: And want to confirm that the
  13. ^ Abstraction Games webpage showcasing their involvement with Hotline Miami
  14. ^ Hotline Miami Coming to PS3 and PS Vita – IGN
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
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  21. ^ "Hotline Miami for Vita". GameRankings. Retrieved December 30, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Hotline Miami for PS3". GameRankings. Retrieved December 30, 2014. 
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  25. ^ "Hotline Miami for PlayStation Vita". Metacritic. Retrieved December 30, 2014. 
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  30. ^ Saldana, Giancarlo (October 31, 2012). "Hotline Miami Review". GamesRadar. Retrieved December 24, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Hotline Miami Review". GameTrailers. November 8, 2012. Retrieved December 24, 2012. 
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  34. ^ Cameron, Phill (October 24, 2012). "Hotline Miami Review". Retrieved December 24, 2012. 
  35. ^ Swain, Eric (August 5, 2013). "Hotline Miami (PS3)". PopMatters. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  36. ^ Best PC Sound – Best of 2012 – IGN
  37. ^ Best Overall Action Game – Best of 2012 – IGN
  38. ^ Best PC Action Game – Best of 2012 – IGN
  39. ^ Best PC Game – Best of 2012 – IGN
  40. ^ Best PC Story – Best of 2012 – IGN
  41. ^ Best Overall Music – Best of 2012 – IGN
  42. ^ Best Overall Game – Best of 2012 – IGN
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  44. ^ Alec Meer (July 18, 2012). "Rezzed: Our, And Your, Game Of The Show". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  45. ^ Davies, Marsh (December 24, 2012). "The Best Music of the Year 2012: Hotline Miami". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 25, 2012. 
  46. ^ Sonntag, Lawrence. "Winners of the 4th annual Inside Gaming Daily Awards announced". Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  47. ^ "The 2012 Vidya Gaem Awards". 
  48. ^ Twitter / cactusquid: I don't really want people
  49. ^ The creators of Hotline Miami on inspiration, storytelling and upcoming DLC • News • PC •
  50. ^ Twitter / cactusquid: Working while listening to
  51. ^ Twitter / cactusquid: We only have some general plans
  52. ^ Hotline Miami sequel announced • News • PC •
  53. ^ Hotline Miami 2 will come in 2014
  54. ^ Hotline Miami 2 unleashed in 2015

External links[edit]