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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hotline Miami is a downloadable adventure game that's packed with lots of mature content. It's gory and a bit disturbing, since the objective of the game is killing everyone you cross paths with. There are shootings and stabbings, with loads of blood splattered everywhere. There's also loads of harsh language, derogatory commentary about women, and discussions about murder in a callous manner. Though there's no sexual content, tawdry acts are implied. In many ways, this is really a title about how some video games encourage players to do that blindly. That means there's some satire at play, which probably will go over younger players' heads.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
In HOTLINE MIAMI, players step into the life of a tortured man living in a mental fog. He's either been abducted by or is trying to be saved by a group of people wearing animal masks. It’s unclear which is really the case, but regardless of what you end up believing, you murder a lot of people trying to figure that out. There's no other way the game can be played, and that's the game in a very bloody nutshell.
Is it any good?
You won’t be able to tell this from the adjoined screenshots, but Hotline Miami is really a puzzle game, wherein you have to use guns or melee weapons -- only one at a time -- to mow down people who want to kill you. Missions take place from a bird's-eye view of houses, so it’s like being set loose in an architect’s blueprints that you increasingly paint red. It really can't be overstated how gory and grisly Hotline Miami is.
But don't let the violence distract from the fact that deep down, this is a tightly constructed puzzle game wherein the pieces you try to fit together are the chronology of your kills, recording when to start dispatching enemies and where to go from there. Deeper down still, there's satire in Hotline Miami's bones: The protagonist keeps answering phone calls telling him to go to locations, and although there's no other course of action, you choose to murder everyone there. If you don't, they'll kill you. In time, it's revealed there's a vague conspiracy at play here, but what it means and who's behind it isn't disclosed. But the overall sense is that the bloody action and the game itself are a commentary on violent games and the antisocial behaviors that players commit. A game like Hotline Miami that's both so action-focused and intellectually brain-teasing is rare yet fantastic, and it's definitely for mature audiences only.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in games such as Hotline Miami. Is the violence in this game tolerable because it's so completely over the top and could be considered satire? Should games never go as over the top as this game does?
Discuss conspiracies and conspiracy theories. Why do some seem so far-fetched and others so plausible?
Talk about right vs. wrong and when to think for yourself when you're expected to follow orders. Are there really only two choices in most circumstances, or is there a third way?
- Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows
- Price: $9.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Devolver Digital
- Release date: October 23, 2012
- Genre: Arcade
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: M for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Drug Reference, Strong Language, Crude Humor, Use of Tobacco
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.