Hotline Miami utilizes a phenomenal soundtrack to perfectly capture its ambiance. The fast and psychedelic music sends you into a hypnotic state as you attempt to rush through its gruelling levels. Hotline Miami doesn’t try to make you accept it; instead it violently throws you into its disturbing world and watches as you scramble towards safety. It’s the brutality of Hotline Miami‘s difficulty that made me become hooked to its gameplay so quickly and, ultimately, why it’s on this list.
Unlike most modern games, Hotline Miami chooses for you and your foe to be equals. You’re tasked with killing everyone in the room, but if an enemy hits you it’s an instant failure and you’re forced to restart. Every level has to be completed in one perfect run, making for every level completion to feel like an extraordinary victory. While this ruthless difficulty has been enough to dishearten many players from venturing forward, those who see its appeal will become instantly addicted.
Hotline Miami‘s success isn’t just because of its amazing soundtrack and relentless gameplay, though. Hotline Miami, unlike so many other games of this generation, has morality. Every room you clear is an unpleasant reminder of the unnatural violence of your character.
After completing each level you’re forced to walk back through the aftermath you left in your wake. Most games only have you venturing forward, never acknowledging the inhumanity of your actions. Hotline Miami, however, forces you to turn back. Walking through these corpse ridden rooms is enough to make you reconsider what it is to be a hero.
This isn’t just my favourite indie game of all time or the most musically driven game I’ve ever played; it’s one of few games of the last generation to make me reconsider my sanity. It challenges a whole medium’s ethics and does it with such brutal grace that its message becomes undeniable.
Available on: PC, PS4, PS3, and PS Vita