(From January 7th 2019)
Having spent the last few months with titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom; my first task in my backlog was to attack something smaller and more bite-sized. Plenty of indies are in my backlog, and there were two in particular I wanted to play first: Papers, Please and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number.
When Papers, Please released in 2013, many people were praising the game. Yet, despite all the positivity in the media…I still wasn’t sure what the game even was. The general idea of it made sense of course – you play as an immigration officer allowing people into your country. Simple enough.
What I wasn’t fully expecting was the oppressive atmosphere and what felt like a chore in the game play. As anyone who read my mission for this year-long endeavor of mine, life has been quite stressful as of late. Papers, Please alleviates none of that and in fact runs parallel with it.
Playing what is practically a second job by comparing paperwork with a revolving list of rules to go by due to immigration policies, Papers, Please forces you to quickly approve or deny people into the dystopian country of Arstotzka. Rushing too quickly allows for mistakes which could be detrimental to how much money you make at the end of the day. That money then feeds into required services like rent, food, heat, and more.
This is then made more difficult with moral quandries that arise due to the point of the game. Do you break up a family coming in at the same time because one has the correct paperwork while the other doesn’t? Your decision could kill one of them, but too many hits on your record could prevent the funds to heal your sick child.
The PlayStation Vita as the method to play was also frustrating due to the nature of the game. I found myself having trouble switching between paperwork which is not great in a game that rewards you partially based on speed.
Although I haven’t seen the conclusion, I absolutely love Jorji. He was the one thing that made me smile with my limited time with the game. Clearly a shady character, but his presentation is fantastic.
Sadly, I’m not feeling this game at this time. It absolutely nails the mood it is trying to establish in the music, the dialogue, the look, and certain events that trigger. I can see why this game received the praise it did. However, at this moment in my life, it’s just not what I was looking for.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
Now this…this is what I needed. Fast paced action with some thumpin music to get the blood pumpin. Absolutely terrible at it, much like the first game, but incredibly addicting and fun. When a game keeps pulling you back for that “one more time” only to find yourself still at it an hour later – you know it’s good.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is that kind of game. I imagine the over-the-top explosions of blood can be a bit much for some, but it reinforces the balls-to-the-wall approach. The story didn’t hook me any, probably because I felt like I needed to be on PCP to understand the trippiness aspects of it, but it didn’t diminish anything from the experience.
If anyone was wanting more Hotline Miami, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number will not disappoint. From the look of the game to the various weapons at your disposal, this sequel reminds me of the predecessor. Even the inclusion of masks that change how you approach levels carries over and can both challenge and compliment your play style. I’m awful with guns, so I much rather having deadly punches.
I do have to say though, there were moments frustration would take hold. Near the end of the game, certain enemies felt cheap whether it dogs or the prisoners who could pounce on you. Sometimes it felt like they didn’t cross thresholds of rooms properly, so hiding for the right angle to get the jump on them wouldn’t work. Not a dealbreaker for sure, but definitely an irksome element in late game levels.
The only other knock against it would be the checkpointing. Since stages are broken up into sections, it can be tempting to take a break during a transition and turn the game off, but (unless I’m doing something wrong) this leads to restarting from the beginning. The levels are short, but considering the difficulty, is also a bummer.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number was a blast. I’m not sure if a third is planned or not, but I wojld gladly play one if it released. At the very least, even if the game isn’t in your wheelhouse, at least give the soundtrack a listen. I’m not one to listen to soundtracks typically, but this had me searching for it to listen to in my free time.
Week one done and two games out of my backlog. Not only that, but I’m also catching up on a show I missed out on several months ago – The Haunting of Hill House. Great vibes and not heavy on jump scares which is always appreciated. Few more episodes to go, but really loving it!
As for what’s on my plate next week, I’m eyeing The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit from Dontnod Entertainment and maybe something I can jump in with for my son. Guess we will see next week!
-Written by Josh Miller