The first installment of Hotline Miami was a revelation. A kind of retro shooter, but also a bit of an arcade puzzle game that requires planning. In addition, a very fast pace, dozens of deaths, brutal animations of killings and electronic music in the background, which immediately became one of the best soundtracks in history. It was enough to give the players more of the same, but in the end we got this… something.

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is like a genetically modified child – lots of fixes, tweaks and polishes, and yet it was ultimately punished by nature for playing god for its parents. At first glance, the sequel is perfect, but it turns out to be completely devoid of soul, of this beautiful sense of fun with something that is the fruit of the developers’ pure love for video games.

The rules have remained unchanged – observing the action from above, we control a character whose task is to drive into a given place, murder everyone present and return to the exit, walking over the bodies lying everywhere. Our repertoire of moves includes picking up a weapon, attacking (or shooting) and throwing a held object in front of us. In theory, simple, but one careless move and an accurately sent ball or hit with a baseball bat ends our lives. These basics, along with the electronic pieces of the amazing soundtrack, remained the same.

The problem is with everything else. First of all, forget about the animal masks that are iconic for the original – we rarely get these, and if we do, we have a maximum of four to choose from (sometimes they aren’t even masks, but glasses or… brass knuckles). Anyway, most of the missions will be played with characters with an open face. Another thing is that, despite the small selection, few masks introduce quite significant changes – double rifles (you can fold your arms to the sides and shoot both ways at once), murderous fists with the prohibition of using weapons or … a rollover to avoid enemy fire. Yes, flips. And we get it at the very beginning, which makes the game seem way too simple. This is my SECOND approach (early stage, still small locations):

Another problem is the difficulty level. We can now accept pistol shots or a stray bullet from a rifle in the chest, and in addition, the opponents react somewhat slower. Had they cut out what is most beautiful? Yes and no. Yes, if all the mechanics of the two were moved to the first part, the game would be much simpler, but the difficulty here is due to the fact that the level designer did not understand the main idea of ​​the game.

Hotline Miami’s strength was in small boards and small rooms – we planned which rooms we would visit and in what order, and then we tried to implement the plan, dying dozens of times along the way. Here we are dealing in part with open boards (even a sniper rifle has been added …), and if we get to the building, prepare for huge boards with huge rooms. Or with long corridors and lots of small rooms with windows everywhere! Everywhere! The boards are so large that enemies with guns will always notice us through these glazed labyrinths and shoot us like a duck, usually off the screen. This is not a new form of challenge, it’s a hopeless design.

Of course, you can look with the camera outside the immediate vicinity of our hero, but what if we don’t go anywhere, because they will see us? And then it remains to lure enemies by making noise or jumping into their field of view for half a second to kill stealthily around the corner. That’s not the point! And since we are with sensitive units, they have problems with frames. They must have had a lot of trouble since the premiere of the first part, because regardless of whether there is a door in the doorway or not, they are blocked by power. I have no idea how this could have passed through the testers …

When the original served us the plot in a non-invasive way, leaving optional scenes and a hidden ending for the curious, here we get a lot of heroes changing every now and then, non-chronological jumping around events and general confusion in which it’s hard to get to know. Moreover, even after figuring out everything in your head and understanding what the authors meant, it is nothing to write home about, with a rather poor ending. It also added a loud one of its time rape scene in the tutorial, which can be turned off in the options. Only if it had any plot sense …

So all of the 25 missions are confusing and most of the time feel like a random patchwork of fan-created levels in the editor. The whole thing, however, lasts much longer than its predecessor, closing in a good 6-8 hours (probably longer, due to deaths caused by the level design). Later, there is also Hard Mode, where we cannot block the sight on enemies, and they are more aggressive (they block aggressively in the door).

I complain a lot, but the final grade is not the lowest. Why? Because it is still a playable title, which tried new solutions, such as controlling two characters at once, one of which has a power saw and the other supports it with a gun. There are also missions with a Writer who does not kill – he only uses blunt weapons, and can only disarm rifles or shotguns. Still, the game disappointed me as a fan of the original and I honestly would prefer a set of new levels to such a sequel, although you get used to Wrong Number. Fun a bit different, but still worth attention. And again with an excellent soundtrack. It’s just a pity for these masks …