I got Hotline Miami as a gift, and it is excellent. I remember @bluesforbuddha doing a big writeup on Super Meatboy a while back, and I think Hotline Miami appeals to the same part of the brain.

For those who are only familiar with the aesthetic, which is definitely wonderful, there’s also a good game underneath the gritty, late 80’s bathed in neon Miami veneer. I’m only four or five chapters in (out of 15, I believe), but the story is as such: you get calls on your answering machine telling you to go to a certain place and do something. (SPOILER: THE THING YOU END UP DOING IS WRECKING FOOLS’ FACES WITH BATS, PIPES, KNIVES, AND GUNS.)

The game plays like a puzzle/action hybrid in which every enemy is incredibly lethal. Each level is meant to be played and replayed in order to beat it as quickly as possible, without dying, and while killing as many people as you can in rapid succession. Given that it’s incredibly brutal, you may spend 20 minutes on a level but only spend about 30 seconds on your final run through the level. Normally I would find this type of game play frustrating, but it’s really gratifying to finish a level that you’ve been struggling with. And, I’m not kidding when I say the enemies are lethal. Being spotted without being 1/4 of a second away from smashing their face in with a bat will end in your death. One time I successfully evaded an enemy’s attack only to have him double back and stab me less than a second later. It’s not about being quick, though, it’s about being smart and careful.

Right now I’m on a level in which everyone seems to have a gun and using a gun yourself draws a ridiculous amount of attention. I have to do things like open a door to knock an enemy down, cross the room to kill someone with a gun, and then double back to kill the downed enemy before he gets up. The game wants you to create your perfect run through the levels, and it’s a lot of fun to do so.