Hotline Miami is a 2D top-down action video game developed by independent developers Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin (Dennaton Games), initially published and released by Devolver Digital on October 23, 2012 for Windows, and at later dates for Mac OSX, Linux systems, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Welcome to the undergrounds of Miami
Hotline Miami is a high-octane action game overflowing with raw brutality, hard-boiled gunplay and skull crushing close combat. Set in an alternative 1989 Miami, you will assume the role of a mysterious man on a murderous rampage against the shady underworld at the behest of voices on your answering machine.
Rely on your wits to choreograph your way through seemingly impossible situations as you constantly find yourself outnumbered by vicious enemies. The action is unrelenting and every shot is instantly fatal, each move must be quick if you hope to survive long enough to unveil the sinister forces driving the bloodshed.
Hotline Miami’s unmistakable visual style, a driving soundtrack, and a surreal chain of events will have you question your own thirst for blood while pushing you to the limits with a brutally unforgiving challenge.
The game is set in an alternate Miami, 1989, and revolves around the story of a varsity jacketed man, as he follows mysterious instructions on his answering machine to kill everyone inside targeted and tagged locations.
Part One: Phonecalls
After a Tutorial, Jacket appears in an unknown apartment room where three masked figures wait for him: Richard, Don Juan and Rasmus wearing respectively a rooster mask, a horse mask and an owl mask. While Don Juan seems to have the answers about Jacket's identity and his past actions without giving them, Rasmus doesn't and displays hostility at his presence in the room. Richard however states that they once met together and encourages Jacket to remember their first encounter on April 3rd, 1989.
The story then starts on April 3rd, when Jacket receives his first phone call. A rooster mask has been delivered at his door step with specific instructions. He then proceeds to a metro station where he kills a group of Russian mobsters and retrieves a suitcase from a man in a coat, leaves it in a dumpster and unwillingly confronts a hobo. After this, Jacket receives three other phone calls, asking him to hit a mobster-occupied apartment, a drug operation in a large building and finally a movie producer's villa from which he rescues a drug-addled Girlfriend.
Between each slaughter, Jacket goes to several shops where the bearded vendor and barman, always the same, seems to know him and offer him food, drinks and video tapes ("on the house") while showing concern for Jacket's well being. Jacket also collects newspaper clips covering his hits.
Part Two: Questions
Jackets comes back to the room, now deteriorating, where the trio are waiting for him. Don Juan is surprised of his return, noting that he has been busy piecing the story together, though it may still be fuzzy. Rasmus still talks with hostility, showing disgust towards Jacket, and Richard now encourages him to remember who he is and who introduced them. Before leaving, the rooster asks four questions to ponder:
- "Do you like hurting other people?"
- "Who is leaving messages on your answering machine?"
- "Where are you right now?"
- "Why are we having this conversation?"
The story continues on and Jacket is tasked through the mysterious phone calls to hit two large houses owned by the Russian Mafia (the first has yet another captured masked operator), a hotel receiving special guests protected by the mafia (while being watched by The Janitors) and an apartment complex inhabited by mobsters. On the fourth call however, he's contacted again from the original targeted location to take care of a "prank caller" at the telephone company, Phone Hom. Jacket reaches the building and is confronted by Biker in the main office, who he apparently beats to death with a golf club, surreally exploding Biker's entire head.
Meanwhile, Girlfriend regains consciousness at his apartment and starts living there, improving his quality of life progressively. A newspaper clip reveals that the protected guests at Hotel Blue were politicians in favor of the Russo-American Coalition.
Part Three: Visitations
Back at the room, Don Juan inquires about Jacket's health and advises him to not force himself, as "bearing too much weight" will lead to "collapse of everything." Rasmus is infuriated to see Jacket again, and threatens to leave if Jacket insists on coming back. Richard asks if Jacket has thought about the questions asked. He says that he has no answers to give, and mentions that the next time they see each other will be the last. He then leaves three predictions:
- "Someone you know is not who you think he is"
- "Something will soon be taken from you."
- "On July the 21st you will wake up in a bigger house."
Jacket strikes a discotheque, a drug operation (and barely escapes from SWAT forces assaulting the place), a relaxation center and spa, and finally an office complex where he encounters fierce resistance from the Russian mob at the exit. However, the more he accomplishes his attacks, the creepier things become around him. The headless corpse of Biker appears alive before disappearing at Beard's convenience store, Beard himself insisting nothing is real and summoning static. Other corpses of killed mobsters and thugs are then seen at the other shops and even in Jacket's apartment, while Beard is killed at each location and replaced in his shops and bar by a bald man who shows impatience for Jacket, seems to recognize him, and orders him to leave.
Part Four: Connections
When returning to his apartment, Jacket finds his girlfriend dead. Another masked man wearing a rat mask is waiting for him on the couch in the living room and shoots him in the head, leaving him for dead. Jacket then reappears at his apartment with both his body and the Girlfriend's still lying on the ground where they were killed, and with a surrounding darkness similar to the room with the masked trio. He then finds Richard alone, sitting in place of the assassin. The masked entity tells Jacket that they both know his story won't end well, that he will be alone soon though it is not an issue. Before leaving, he confides Jacket that his actions from this point won't serve any purpose, that he will never see the whole picture and that it is all his own fault. He then ends their conversation by asking Jacket to leave, saying that a warm bed awaits for him to rest across the hall from the apartment. When reached, Jacket discovers himself lying on an hospital bed, and his own clothes turn into a patient gown. His head finally blows up from the shock of the revelation that all events in the story so far were his recollection of them through his coma.
Jacket awakes on July 21st at a hospital, still recovering from his head surgery and guarded by policemen as the prime suspect in his violent rampages against the Russian mafia. A policeman also reveals that his girlfriend did not survive, but also that the Police have locked up the assassin who refuses to talk. Jacket escapes the place unseen and gets back home only to find both his car and his apartment vandalized. After recovering his clothes, he goes through a police station and kills all resisting policemen, including their chief. The carnage ends after he reaches Richter, the assassin, in his cell, who is surprised to see him alive. Richter says that his assault on Jacket and his girlfriend was nothing personal, but that he has no answer to offer. After being either hit across the face or shot, he claims that they are not different from each other and asks him if he received strange phone calls too. He then advises him to look for the Police file on this case and to spare his life, which Jacket can choose to do before leaving with the information. If Jacket chooses not to spare Richter's life, then he will strangle him to death before collecting the information on the case.
Back at the apartment, Jacket learns that the masked killers were threatened into executing orders and that the phone calls were traced to a club owned by the Russian Mafia. Jacket goes to the club and rampages through the mobsters, the scared manager then revealing the address of the business's owner before Jacket beats him to death. He reaches the address, a mansion, and confronts the boss himself and his bodyguard and panthers. After the showdown, the boss chooses to kill himself, sparing his assailant the pleasure of his own death. Jacket recovers the gun he left behind and reaches an apartment above inhabited by the mafia's elder, who accepts his fate willingly. Jacket executes him and goes to the balcony, throws his mask aside and lights himself a cigarette. He then tosses a photo off the balcony, marking an end to his vendetta.
Part Five: Answers
The story rewinds a month back, on May 13th, with Biker looking for a way to quit the executions by threatening the operator (wearing a pig mask) who introduced him for more information about the people making the calls. He gives him the address of a Chinese restaurant where someone is hiding. After slaughtering the Russian mob guarding the place, the man in hiding reveals that he helped them set up a system at Phone Hom's station to sweep up their trails and that Biker must hack into the phone company's system to trace the calls. The technician also tells that he went into hiding after discovering that the organization had a political agenda. Three days later, Biker receives a phone call for a hit at a Russian video game arcade, and a final threat against his motivation to quit. He executes the order.
On May 23rd, after apparently throwing a party and getting drunk, Biker gets another assignment which he rejects and goes to Phone Hom instead. After killing the Phone Hom Manager and going through his computer, he discovers the address of the club where the people behind the phone calls are hiding. Jacket then enters the room and tries to kill Biker with a golf club, but Biker easily dispatches Jacket and explodes his entire head.
The next day, Biker receives a more serious threat by phone, announcing his execution before the end of the week. He then leaves for the club, the entrance of which is empty except for one of the janitors who flees to a back room . There, wires lead from a computer and a generator to the sewers where both janitors previously seen by Jacket have installed their phone operation and are packing masks and fliers for 50 Blessings. The computer is password-protected and solving the puzzle throughout the story will lead to two different endings.
If Biker doesn't access the computer, the janitors will mock him for his ignorance, explaining that the phone calls and death threats were simply a game they made up together out of boredom. However if he hacks into the computer using the password revealed by the puzzle, he will learn about their plans: them being nationalists infiltrated among the mafia itself, and threatening their own members into doing the executions for them. When asked if they did all this by themselves, the janitors tell that they volunteered for this social experiment, based on people's reactions to threats, and set similar operations throughout the country for higher people. Biker questions their morality, to which they reply that the United States are at war and that 50 Blessings is a foundation for true patriots, that their members must fill a form in which they state their willingness to die for their nation. They aim to not only topple the Russo-American coalition in the making, but to also bring the country back on its feet in five years. In the end, whether the janitors decided to reveal the information or not, Biker gets fed up and either choose to kill them or spare them before leaving Miami for good.
- Hotline Miami on RAWG