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 2 is the downloadable action sequel to the very violent Hotline Miami. Though the first was gory and disturbing, this one ups the ante with a bigger cast of characters who are just as vicious and awful. Again, there are stabbings, shootings, and liters of blood flying everywhere. Also, though the original was a metaphor for video games as a whole, this one shifts its focus to tell a broader, although confusing story about its cast of characters. Language is vile, suggestive, and misogynistic, while lots of smoking, drinking, and drug use abounds. The game also features lots of suggestive content and starts with a graphic, although visually obscured, rape scene, which provides a sense of how bloody and vile the content gets. Definitely not ever for kids.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
HOTLINE MIAMI 2's story focuses on an expansive cast of characters either directly influenced by, involved with, and/or inspired by the events of the game's predecessor. If that sounds confusing, it's meant to, and it's even more so when you add that most characters in both games wear masks and speak opaquely about themselves or their intentions. There are a lot of time dashes here in the world's chronology, whether it's referring to the convenience store owner from the original (who, as it turns out, fought in a war against Russia in Hawaii alongside the original's protagonist) or a group of five fans murdering criminals as a tribute to the original antihero. It's very confusing, meant to be, and succeeds in that pursuit.
Is it any good?
This is very much a different sort of game from Hotline Miami. While the original was a bloody puzzle game, this is a slower, more methodical, and more frustrating shooter. For this sequel, the notion of "more" is taken to nearly every extreme: more characters, more masks, more everything. The most frustrating "more" here is the fact that every stage has so much more space in it, resulting in you being killed by things you can't see offscreen. Whereas the original had you navigating tight, cramped spaces and dashing through as quickly as possible, HM2 has you wandering slowly through sweeping, large rooms whose walls you'll have to walk for a while to even see. It sounds minor but actually makes this a different sort of game.
If you liked the original, you'll be thrown by what the sequel has to offer. If you have no frame of reference, you likely will be confused by the plot-heavy dialogue, and even though you can piece things together, the story just isn't that interesting. It's better to preserve the mystery and not understand it than have clunky exposition as characters explain why the serial killer in the original was so important to them and why they like getting phone calls. A lot of what's new here distracts and detracts from what was great in the first place. What you have here, ultimately, is another solid shooter that might be worth a look, but you should probably try the original one first.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in games such as Hotline Miami 2. 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?
Talk about empathy. When someone you do or don't know does something awful, do you feel empathy for him or her? Why, or why not?
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows
- Price: $14.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Devolver Digital
- Release date: March 10, 2015
- Genre: Arcade
- ESRB rating: M for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Use of Drugs, Partial Nudity, Strong Language
- Last updated: July 28, 2020
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