When it’s time for a game to get a sequel, it might be a little tough to decide what to do. You could mimic what made your first game popular, or go a different route and introduce entirely new concepts and ideas into the game. With a game like Hotline Miami, a game that was so great because of its simplicity, those types of questions might not have come up, but Devolver Digital (the developer of the series) still managed to go in different directions, and that’s what makes Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number such a fun game.
Hotline Miami 2 shares a lot of what made the first game so great. The shock value has dissipated a bit, as we now know just how much blood and guts we’re going to be wading through. The soundtrack is every bit as exhilarating and fun as it was in Hotline Miami, only now Devolver Digital has tried to craft a more concrete story out of the game.
If you remember Hotline Miami, you play as two characters throughout the game, and the game has a pretty clear direction in terms of story. Hotline Miami 2 flips all of that on its head and has you playing as a whopping nine different protagonists, all from different walks of life. A private detective, a journalist looking for his next book’s summary, and of course a band of masked lunatics just looking for a good time, are just some of the people you get to go on murder sprees with.
The original game used masks to differentiate skills between characters, but each of the characters in Hotline Miami 2 seemingly have their own means of violence. This keeps you from getting too comfortable with one while also forcing you to think about how to solve each chapter you play.
The story takes place sometime after the original game but jumps to different eras, often taking you back to before the original game in a (purposely done) disjointed style. Towards the end, it starts to blend together and unravel a bit more cohesively, but it would have been nice to see either a little more structure, or a return to the style of Hotline Miami.
The one constant throughout both games seem to be its gameplay. Never changing, the game still has you navigating labyrinth-esque rooms to murder any and everyone in your way. The addition of so many characters adds some variety, but for the most part you are still chopping or shooting your way through rooms. This is not a bad thing, however, as Hotline Miami 2 has made it a lot more difficult to just run around and complete levels.
If you don’t know me, then you might not know that I love games that frustrate me. It’s weird, I know, but there’s something so satisfying about beating something that had me cursing its name moments prior. I’ve played (and complete) many “hard” games in the past; Super Meat Boy, Super Hexagon, N+ were all personal favorites of mine because I remember beating them due to their difficulty. After completing Hotline Miami 2, I can now add that to the list.
Hotline Miami 2 isn’t extremely hard in the grand scheme of games, but when you compare it to the original Hotline Miami, it becomes a whirlwind of frustration in the best possible way. It seems as if Devolver Digital were keen on upping the ante in their level designs. Maps are much bigger, and enemies are well armed at almost every turn. These two changes alone make for some truly anger inducing scenes, especially when you get killed by enemies that you can’t even see due to the map size.
When all is said and done, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is a solid and very fun sequel. The frenetic pace of the original game is still clearly present, and the game forces you to be much more careful with its added difficulty. While it does stumble at some points with its disjointed story and sometimes needless amount of characters, the people at Devolver Digital have made another replayable, enjoyable game.
This review of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is based on a digital copy for the PC provided by Devolver Digital.