We still have vivid memories of the first moments after logging-off the lurid killing fields of Hotline Miami. If we tried to reconnect to the physical world around us too quickly, it didn’t go well.
It was as if we hadn’t decompressed properly after scuba diving in an abyssal depth inhabited by monsters that were our worst traits and the worst excesses of our culture incarnate.
As if we had been conditioned, Manchurian Candidate style, to go Charles Bronson-Gosling when exposed to very specific stimuli: a message encoded in the flickering of a VHS tape, the claustrophobic loop of a fist-fucking techno soundtrack.
As in that nightmare scenario which could well represent the apex of dread in the otherwise sheltered life of a knowledge worker in contemporary western society: that moment when you wake up somewhere suddenly. You don’t know where you are. You don’t know what you did last night. You just remember the lights. The strobes. Maybe you took something. You don’t remember. There is something wet and sticky covering your hands. Whimpering. Is it you? What is it?
Oh my God what did I do last night?
You did bad things son. There is no turning back.
Hotline Miami 2 Wrong Number loses, by definition, some of the impact of Hotline Miami the first. The expansion in the layout of the levels and the length of the game also take away some of its glorious, stinking condensation whose blueprint is the apartment/chainsaw fight in Scarface. There is more space to breath, there is more range to snipe. These aren’t necessarily good things.
The inclusion of new characters, some of which are not just psychopathic cyphers provides some moral relief, and the narrative, we gather, seeks to offer some twisted meaning. But again, these are not necessarily good things.
Distance, morality and meaning are not the defining features of fever dreams of carnage and chaos, which is what Hotline Miami is to us.
Of course, these are all minor niggles, expressed from the distance of a Good Friday morning, after a shower and over a coffee.
We rewind to our situation inside Hotline Miami 2 a couple of days ago, cycling through the levels of some coca-disco with naught but a machete, bereft of conscience and ethics, as the ghastly, gristly materialisation of our lizard brain surfaces from our id triumphant like some pixelated version of Blake’s Great Red Dragon. A Dragon that is uncannily summoned in the game’s coda, a moment of pure what-the-fuck psychedelia we will refrain from attempting to describe, you have to see it for yourself.
We go back to those moments which are the putrid, pure heart of Hotline Miami 2, and we feel empty, like B F Skinner rats set loose in a labyrinth based on a feedback loop of cracked skulls and brains splattering walls. It’s hard to put it in words. It is not nice. It is not clean. Perhaps it is cleansing. While we are in there we don’t care, we just are.
The incredible 39-track soundtrack suits perfectly everything we have described above. You can acquire it in luxurious triple vinyl here or digitally, from Steam, here. Find out more about Magna. Worryingly, we couldn’t find any web information about Life Companions. We are awaiting their phone call.