Richard is one of the three internal voices Jacket dreams of in Hotline Miami, appearing as a yellow-lit man in a rooster mask dressed in Jacket's clothes. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's 1991 setting, he's the main internal voice of characters connected to the 1989 killings, but is normally lit, with blinking eyes and talking-beak animations showing off teeth; he also changes attire based on who he's talking to. His primary uses in both games are to heavily blur the line between what's really happening and what isn't, to play up the fears of characters, and to make mildly meta comments about the game and player.
Cold and enigmatic, Richard's appearance, tone and music are some of the most immediately recognizable facets of the Hotline Miami series.
Depiction in Hotline Miami
Richard seems to be Jacket's primary call to remembering his life, who he is, and that he needs to wake up. He also assures Jacket his post-Trauma actions are fruitless and that he'll never see the full picture.
The first encounter with Richard sees him telling Jacket they "met" on April 3rd, which is in reference to April 3rd, 1986 and April 3rd, 1989, major events in Jacket's life, in an effort to jar Jacket's memory.
Once Jacket recalls everything between receiving his mask and rescuing Girlfriend, a second encounter with Richard takes advantage of this newly remembered information to further jog Jacket's memory by asking him four questions:
- 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?
These questions evoke Tension, where Jacket kills another masked killer, Full House, hinting that Jacket's in a big house (Full House also has an easter egg declaring that everything is a dream), Clean Hit, which indicates the people leaving him messages are Janitors, and Neighbors, indicating Biker is the reason Jacket was shot. However, Jacket convinces himself that he succeeded in killing Biker to avoid being riddled with guilt (Don Juan: "Bearing too much weight inevitably leads to collapse of everything").
A blood-soaked Jacket appears in a trashed animal room where Richard informs him the coma is coming to an end with 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 is soon after informed by Beard that Biker is still alive, prompting Jacket to begin to remember Richter, who silences Beard and overtakes his position. Beard also seems to summon "dream static" in reference to the booting up of Hotline Miami's main menu, to hint that events aren't real. Richter is always accompanied by a spray tag mark and he serves the zombified corpses of Russians (who he calls VIPs), indicating that Jacket now believes the Russians to be behind the calls and Richter to be a faithful, well-informed Russian hitman. As Jacket remembers June 8th, his phone message hangs up 14 times, a van attacks him on his way out of a job (hinting he still isn't safe after clearing the level), and Richter seems to overtake the Molotov Guy's facial sprite, prompting Jacket to take out his anger on it as dream static interferes.
Upon remembering Girlfriend's death and being shot by Richter, Richard visits Jacket, accompanied by the dream static, to finally wake him up with a Biker-esque head explosion. He tells Jacket that what he does from now on won't serve any purpose, hinting that Jacket understands that the connections and associations he's made are flimsy and that he's just trying to make himself feel good. Richard tells Jacket that he will never see the full picture of what is happening and adds that it is Jacket's fault. This is a reference to Jacket's failing to kill Biker, failing to aid Biker's investigation and indirectly causing the death of Girlfriend.
Richard never appears again, but dream static appears one last time as Jacket gets dressed after Trauma, hinting that he rested a bit before Assault (which possibly dates it as July 22nd).
Depiction in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
Richard returns in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, seen by most of the 1991-based protagonists (aside from Manny Pardo). Beard recognizes Richard in the Table Sequence, as he vaguely saw 1991's events coming from his Hawaiian experiences of the drunken brutality his comrades inflicted, the Colonel's speech, and the apocalyptic method of his own demise. Manny Pardo doesn't see Richard, instead having a nightmare featuring a depiction an internal voice representing how he feels controlled and all his neighbors in surrounding apartments receiving mask packages.
- His first appearance is in Martin Brown's dream sequence, who sees him in the audience wearing Jacket's clothes, as he fears he's turning his audience into Jacket by so closely imitating him. He insists that his work is "just a film," but Richard insists it's more real than he's letting on (which is true, as his dreamed interview and subsequent beheading of Ellen indicates a genuine desire to hurt people). Richard alludes to a twist ending to Midnight Animal, hinting both that Martin's slightly aware that Rouven Blankenfeld has given him a faked script to throw him off, and also that the violence of films has potential to become uncomfortably real. It also foreshadows his accidental death.
- The Henchman is the next one shown to dream of Richard, who is now wearing the Son's clothes as the Son's newly started drug war threatens to bring back the obliteration of the Russian mob done by Jacket. Similar to the Son, Richard is sitting relaxed in a spacious seat (Henchman's money bag having blown away), questioning Henchman's newfound direction in life (or lack thereof). This new image also paints Henchman as the Son's personal driver instead of an independent man. Playing up his fear of societal decay (shown by him earlier reading a newspaper on anti-Russian arsonists setting Russian families on fire), the road is ruined and littered with old car husks like from the entrance to the chop shop. An empty passenger seat emphasizes that Henchman doesn't value Mary as much as his freedom, as well as a suspicion that he's lost her already.
- Before Death Wish, Mark gets a feeling his innocuous favors to the group are going to end in disaster, and he hallucinates happily delivering a batch of new chicken masks to the group, which Corey, Tony, and Alex put on (in the same order of their Death Wish floors). They give dialogue radioing in success and alluding to a roof meeting, which Mark later worries about as he's probably too obese to make the jump. The sprites related to this meeting are called "FanDream" implying this feeling of unease is experienced by other Fans as well.
- Evan Wright gets a vision of Richard playing up several of his insecurities brought out by his researching Jacket. Richard cycles through a hobo's outfit and his wife's dress. Evan realizes his societal and good-natured sentiments are completely unappreciated ("Do I look like I want your filthy money?") and that he should re-evaluate his priorities and stop taking time for granted. A hallucination of his wife tells him she'll take the kids and leave if he doesn't get a real job, and this genuine fear of Evan's also comes true.
- The Son, upon seeing one of his partners' bullet-riddled corpse in a dark safe full of riches, hallucinates and sees his family (or possible romantic interest in the case of The Bodyguard) that were killed by Jacket in Showdown. The hallucination of his Father tells him he's merely a hallucination and asks why he's trying to make his Father proud if he's already dead. The Son's hallucination of his hyper-fatalist, perpetually throne-bound GrandFather is overtaken by Richard and says lines very characteristic of the GrandFather, insisting that it's all the same in the end and there's nothing you can do to stop it.
- Finally, Richter sees Richard in his own mother as they watch the news of incoming nuclear strikes (foreshadowed in her island dream). Richter's own fatalist attitudes are blended with the comforting tones of his mother ("Leaving this world isn't as scary as it sounds"), and it's unclear how much is his hallucinated internal realizations and how much is genuine conversation between them. Regardless, it's clear he finds the capacity in himself to calmly accept death with open eyes.
After beating Hotline Miami 2, players who decide to go to "New Game" and start again will be greeted with Richard (in Jacket's clothing) sitting at the head of a table in a door-less projector room. All player characters from the game will appear sitting at the table. Richard questions why they've returned to the game even though they know they'll all die at the end. Each person makes a comment characteristic of themselves and dies.
- Jake rudely and confusedly asks where he is and who everyone in the room is. He will then appear to be shot in the head. (Shot by Petrov or the 50 Blessings Manager in Withdrawal)
- Martin Brown questions if he's dreaming again. Richard condescendingly asks "It's all a dream, isn't it?" and advises Martin to enjoy it while it lasts. He will then appear to be shot in the body vigorously as he is at the end of Final Cut (shot multiple times with a gun by Rachael).
- The Fans are all sitting together on the same side of the table. Tony is characteristically frustrated, just wanting to kill people, and tells his easily influenced friends "let's get out of here." Richard comments there's only one way out of here, and they all appear dead the way they die in Death Wish (Golf club to the head, shot by Pardo, shot by The Son, and shot/possibly axe murdered by the Son)
- The Henchman will die on the table after the Son states that he's not afraid of death. His head is bashed in a number of times. Aside from the non-Tony Fans he's the only character who doesn't get a word in, likely as his life and death was entirely a footnote to the Son's.
- The Son says he isn't afraid of death, and will appear dead on the ground, limbs broken apart as if he fell. (He dies by falling off his own building in Death Wish and Apocalypse)
- Richter mistakes Richard for Jacket and attempts to apologize for killing his girlfriend, but Richard denies that he is Jacket and tells him that remorse won't get Richter anywhere. Richter then turns into a skeleton. (Atomic Blast)
- Manny Pardo will get aggressively defensive that he's being judged even though he isn't, which results in Richard questioning Pardo why he does what he does, and tells him that he simply doesn't understand who Richard is. Pardo then turns into a skeleton. (Atomic Blast)
- Evan Wright will question who Richard is. Richard answers he's "the opposite of why you're [he's] writing your [his] book" and "something you'll [he] will never understand," as Evan was writing the book for a plethora of peripheral reasons (money, fame, concern for society's well being, all at the expense of his family). Evan also turns into a skeleton. (Atomic Blast)
- Beard, as the last one left, wonders if they've met before. Richard answers that they did, and that he's glad he remembers. He wishes that they could've met "under different circumstances". Beard does too, and dies as a skeleton. (Atomic Blast)
After everyone has finally died, Richard will play a projector tape, playing Midnight Animal and starting the game over (in the Hard Mode, the characters are depicted as reenacting Hotline Miami 2's events in dark blue nuked-out ruins).
- In Hotline Miami, Richard is famously always accompanied by the Coconuts' "Silver Lights."
- In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Richard often appears accompanying the Life Companions track "Richard." There are some notable exceptions to the track playing with Richard, for example his appearance in Apocalypse isn't accompanied by any music at all.
- The two other situations that this track plays in is when The Colonel gets drunk and puts on the panther skin mask in Casualties and when Manny encounters the ventriloquist dummy-headed Phantom in his nightmare. This is possibly because the rooster mask is meaningless to Beard, dying well before HLM1, and meaningless to Pardo as he's entirely concerned with himself and the fact that society's interests have played him like a dummy.
- In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Richard shows a huge change, he can blink and move his mouth, also he shows that he has teeth. He also more greatly blurs the line between hallucination and reality than he did in the original.
- Richard's dialogue is heavily meta, and it's possible to interpret many of his lines as directly talking to the player.
- Richard's name could derive from the common shortening of Richard to "Dick", and Richard wearing a "Cock" mask.
- The fact that Richard's is animated despite being a rubber mask is never acknowledged by anyone who has seen him, this is noteworthy during his encounter with Mark, as Mark doesn't notice that the mask is talking and he simply believe that the voice come from his friend wearing the mask.
- Richard's appearances in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number are likely an unintentional reference to Norse Mythology. In Norse mythology, there are 3 roosters whose crowing is meant to signify the beginning of Ragnarok, the apocalypse and final battle before the world ends.
- In the game, Richard is a fatalistic nihilist who appears to violent individuals and tries to deter them from their path of violence.
- Richard also appears for one final time before Florida and Hawaii are nuked. He does this to give one final statement to Richter because Richter didn't continue his path of violence and chose to accept his fate before Hawaii was nuked.
- The table sequence itself can be compared to the Norse afterlives, Hel and Valhalla. Hel is the afterlife for those who did not die in battle, while Valhalla is the afterlife for those who did die in battle. Since Richard is a reference to the 3 roosters; it makes sense how he can be with those who died regardless of how they died.