Hotline Miami 2

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (2015)

Developed By: Dennaton Games

Published By: Devolver Digital

The original Hotline Miami is one of my favorite games of all time. Channeling grindhouse movies of the 1970’s, it showed everyone just how entertaining a brutal massacre could be. I adore it’s addictively challenging, hyper-violent gameplay, and psychedelic plot about mysterious phone-calls that drive people insane. The storyline is somehow philosophically profound and utterly devoid of meaning at the same time.


Sorta like everything Terrence Malick has ever directed.

And as for the soundtrack that accompanies your acts of unspeakable depravity? Mmm-mmm, *kisses fingers like an Italian Chef* magnifco. You’ll be boppin’ out while boppin’ heads. In my honest opinion, Hotline Miami is gory perfection. Definitely buy it if you like retro-style games. But we’re not here to talk about the original, we’re here to talk about the sequel. Is Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number just as good if not better? For the most part, yeah! It’s like being reunited with an old friend who’s picked up some new tricks! However, there’s one aspect I don’t really…nevermind, we’ll discuss that later. I promise to explain everything if you keep reading. Deal? Alrighty. I’m gonna show you both the “awesome” and the “not so awesome,” so look out! Here comes the review! Press the “left mouse button” to swing your blunt object wildly and keep on trucking!

The Awesome Stuff

Level Variety: Like any competent sequel, Hotline Miami 2 sticks close to it’s roots while upping the ante. The “playground of destruction” has more “jungle-gyms” this time around. You still get to rampage through classic Hotline Miami staples like nightclubs and apartments, but the new areas–which include an underground sewer, a shipyard, a maximum security prison, and an entire sub-plot that takes place in the tropical rainforests of Hawaii during a fictional war–are fantastic additions.


“I love the smell of pixelated blood in the morning.”

Speaking of which…

 A Larger Cast: I don’t know why, but I’ve always had an affinity for character anthologies like Frank Miller’s Sin City. Hotline Miami 1 mainly focused on a single character, (the creatively named “Jacket,”) but Hotline Miami 2 has a plethora of revolving stars with unique talents and goals. Their interconnecting storylines really expand the game’s hellish world, giving everything a wider scope and heavier dramatic consequences. It just feels really epic! That’s a commendable feat to pull off for a game that is essentially the cousin of primitive, arcade beat-’em-ups.


And Custer’s Revenge is the creepy uncle that everyone “forgets” to invite to social gatherings…

My favorite characters in the game have to be The Fans: five wannabe vigilantes inspired by Jacket to go around and wreak havoc on various thugs and gang members. They each have a different skill.

Tony wears a tiger mask (“Theeey’re great!”) and has powerful fists that allow him to kill enemies in one punch.

Mark wears a bear mask and dual-wields machine guns. If you hold down the right button on your mouse he shoots in two opposite directions!

Corey wears a zebra mask, she can somersault to avoid bullets and get out of harms way.

The twins Ash & Alex  are really different because you play them simultaneously. They both wear goose masks. Ash has a terrifying chainsaw and Alex uses guns; he can automatically pick up a new one whenever he runs out of bullets. Coordinating them is quite tricky but their balance of close-quarters and ranged weapons makes them infinitely versatile. Once you get the hang of Ash and Alex you can pretty much rip through hordes of adversaries with gleeful abandon.

The fans

I guess it was about time for The Banana Splits Gang to receive a gritty reboot.

(Artwork Source:

Replayability: While there isn’t as much character customization as the first game–with it’s massive list of ability-bestowing masks–several of the characters do have three or four unlockable items that can be swapped out. It’s lots of fun to go back through the levels and use a different skill, gun, or in The Fans’ case: character, than you did before. (There’s also supposed to be a Level Editor coming out soon and that alone will make the replayability factor go through the roof.)

If You Loved the Original You’ll Love this One: Minor changes aside, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is essentially the same game as the first. That’s all there is to it.

The Not-So-Awesome Stuff

Level Design: Ironically, part of what makes Hotline Miami 2 so awesome also creates a problem. You see, the series’ gameplay revolves around two things: how fast you can complete your mission and how many takedowns you can string together. (If you hesitate too long between kills the score multiplier resets.) This system works great in the original game with it’s small levels, but less so in the sequel because the levels are much larger. There’s way more empty space between point A and point B, making it harder to reach your enemies or even see them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sniped by someone standing off-screen.

punch screen

Pictured: My reaction.

As a result, the level design compels you to play cautiously and take your time, while the gameplay mechanics reward being speedy and reckless. Both components end up clashing. The first Hotline Miami’s design was far more balanced. You always felt extremely vulnerable and immensely powerful at the same time. Whenever you died, it was because of a mistake you made, not because of the game itself. In fact, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number plays the best during infrequent levels that mimic its predecessor’s compact structure. It’s a classic example of trying to fix the wheel when it’s not broken.

Final Thoughts

Because of the level design issue, some reviewers act like the game is broken or unplayable. That simply isn’t true. It’s just makes things a little frustrating sometimes, that’s all. Truth be told, I actually began adapting to the bigger levels the longer I played. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number may not be perfect, but its an excellent follow-up that’s not afraid to revel in it’s own madness.

I rate it: 4 toothbrush shanks out of 5, and give it the seal of: “Will Definitely Frighten Your Parents.” Isn’t that what videogames are all about?


Hot tip: watch out for windows in this game. They are your worst enemy!