[dropcap size=big]H[/dropcap]otline Miami was one tough video game. Hotline Miami 2? Somehow it’s even tougher. Basically, they created a game that is meant to be for folks who beat the original and now need to graduate to a higher difficulty. For someone like me who could barely squeak through the original, this effectively stopped me in my tracks. How could I ever hope of getting anywhere in the sequel? Not only is it harder but the increased focused on guns over other weaponry makes death so much faster.
My fears initially proved true with each stage requiring dozens of playthroughs each. With every failure I grew more frustrated at both my own lack of skill and Hotline Miami 2’s structural unfairness. After all, it regularly hides killers with guns beyond the edge of your view. Basically, you just need to run up there once and get shot to realize – and hopefully remember – that enemies hang out beyond your immediate eyesight. Getting the mechanics down was easy enough, it’s just that I couldn’t help panicking at every moment. Instead of grabbing and attacking with a weapon I routinely grabbed it, then grabbed another nearby item instead of firing. Oops.
Not only was I quick to freak out (and forget the controls at the worst moments), it seemed that the steep difficulty was too impenetrable to let me in. I cared too much about Hotline Miami 2. Each session ended with my back stiff as can be and a scowl on my face. It was after recognition of this game-based torture that I stopped caring. Hey, it’s just a video game, right? Stop allowing it to get under your skin! And so at that point it was decided that all this attempt at stealth and memorizing enemy patterns was done with. Instead, I’d simply go in guns blazing and see how far it would take me.
Somehow, it was at this point that everything became far more enjoyable. No longer was I stuck dying over twenty times to the same dude. Now, I found myself wildly taking down multiple characters without much issue – it was invigorating. Sure, I still died a fair bunch, but it didn’t feel nearly as common. At least, with a lack of anger associated with dying, each death wasn’t some huge moment to lament. Having my character run around guns blazing felt totally antithetical to the point of Hotline Miami 2. Isn’t it meant to focus on calm, calculated murder? If so, why is the path of recklessness so much more rewarding?
Players are meant to be rewarded by playing most video games upon mastering their controls, puzzles, or built-in systems. We are expected to become skilled enough to play again on a higher difficulty or New Game+ mode. Yet, Hotline Miami 2 appears to eschew this formula – at least in my case. Instead of demanding players conform to its constraints accordingly, you can simply go bonkers. Instead of skillful shots, dodges, and lures you can throw caution aside and kick butt for a surprisingly long time. If you find yourself wound up and incredibly stressed over Hotline Miami 2 perhaps give my (non) strategy a try. Once you stop fearing the game you’ll be better equipped to enjoy it.