Hands-On Preview: Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

on April 16, 2014 3:40 PM

Back in 2012, Dennaton Games and Devolver Digital launched their indie-megahit Hotline Miami on PC, and the game came in swinging like a bloody baseball bat with its twitch gunplay with a little dose of strategic violent puzzle-solving. After being later ported to Mac, PS3, and PS Vita, two years later Devolver is bloodthirsty again with their upcoming sequel to the original title. , After a brief run-through of some of the game’s levels, it already shows that the bloody work isn’t done in the 80s-fueled drug haze of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number.

On the show floor of PAX East 2014 this past weekend in Boston, Devolver Digital was present to show off Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number on PC to a host of eager fans from the original game. As a big fan of Hotline Miami‘s brutally-addicting gameplay and uniquely-violent puzzles myself, it’s easy to say from playing Devolver’s demo that fans can rest easy: it’s definitely more of the bloody Hotline we know and love.

Featuring two main levels from the game and a selection of brief, trippy cutscenes much like the first game, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number rings true to its predecessor — perhaps maybe a little too familiarly to fans of the original game. The art and level design definitely could come off as DLC for the original and it wouldn’t be remiss to think that from just a first glimpse at the demo. But, underneath the hood, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is still showing a solid structure, much like the one that fueled the original’s game frenetic craziness and intoxicating gameplay.

Taking place directly after the original title, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number may be a familiar slice of a pumping ’80s fantasy like we last saw, but even from the two levels shown it seems like Dennaton and Devolver are looking to up the brutality scale in their follow-up with a host of new weapons, new masks, new gameplay tweaks, and even more carnage to look forward to (even if it’s the questionable kind). While the goals of each level remain the same by having players fight their way through fierce gunfights and even more deadly brawls against enemies in a selection of floors and rooms, Wrong Number brings a number of new gameplay and aesthetic tweaks which are definitely noticeable to even the most hardcore Hotline Miami fan.

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Previously, players took control of just one lone character throughout the entirety of Hotline Miami, as the unnamed protagonist (known to fans as Jacket) fought his way through Miami under the direction of a mysterious hotline caller. While originally players only controlled Jacket while donning an assortment of animal masks with different abilities, this time around the various mask choices also make the player’s character different, in addition to the numerous new abilities and tricks on offer.

This time around, Wrong Number brings an assortment of new character-based abilities specific to each player, such as bear-faced Mark who can wield dual submachine guns, or murderous pair Alex & Ash, a unique situation that allows the player to take control of two characters at the same time: one wields an in-your-face chainsaw while the other stays behind with a pistol. In addition to the various character changes, weapons, and masks, Hotline Miami 2 also features some new gameplay tweaks and additions that make the game’s mixture of stealth, action, and puzzle-solving even more dynamic since we last saw in the first title. Included in the player’s arsenal is a dodge-roll that can provide players a last-ditch effort to avoid gunfire or a nearing enemy, certainly a helpful maneuver to help ease some of the intense scenarios and fights that made the original such a frustrating delight.

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Hotline Miami came onto the indie scene in 2012 all guns blazing, and so far based on the demo from PAX East 2014, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number looks to be continuing the onslaught of thought-provoking violence mixed with twitch-inducing gameplay and frenetics. Whether it’s a matter of Hotline Miami 2 bringing in some new guns or  packing the same heat as last time around remains to be seen, but so far it’s safe to say that Hotline fans can take a breather: Hotline Miami 2 is just as bloody good fun as the last time around. Just don’t expect to hold your breath for long – Wrong Number is surely ready to knock it right out of you, again.

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is expected to release on PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, PS4, and PS Vita in Summer 2014.

 /  Features Editor
Ryan is the Features Editor at DualShockers, with over five years' experience in the world of video games culture and writing. He holds a BA in English & Cinema from Binghamton University, and lives in New York City.
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