Hotline Miami is a game that has seen glorious and lasting popularity because of a number of refreshingly original qualities. It emerged straight from the bowels of Europe as the first and most admired work by Swedish indie game developer Dennaton Games. Perhaps the most notable trait of Hotline Miami is the unavoidable, unashamed and (a little worryingly) addictive violence. The soundtrack for Hotline Miami seems to be generally accepted by the wider gaming community as one of the best of its genre in recent years. It contains all the right ingredients for a soundtrack that you’ll struggle to get out of your head, and will forever remind you of the many sleepless nights you spent in front of Hotline Miami.
The Hotline Miami OST has so far wrangled a staggering 2,000,000+ YouTube views which is impressive for any standalone game soundtrack, let alone a debut release from an indie game developer. The artists behind the music include MOON, Jasper Byrne, Elliott Berlin and El Huervo, to name a few. The music they have used for Hotline Miami follows the tried and true pattern of catchy, repetitive beats that ride along beautifully with the infamously violent gameplay. There are four main segments in each chapter of the game, each with their own splendid tracks.
The start of each chapter takes place in the player’s home, which is one of two segments where death isn’t looming around every corner. The music reflects this with cool, breezy tracks that really do remind me of what I would imagine the sleazy side of 1980’s Miami to be like, despite never having been there. Next comes the violence that you will no doubt replay many times each chapter, accompanied by the bread and butter of hypnotic techno, with the track ‘Hydrogen’ by MOON being a perfect example of one of many such tracks featured in Hotline Miami. During this stage of the game the music puts you in a sort of murderous craze that has you grinning through the murder and carnage. What follows is one of my favourite examples of how game audio can be used to influence a game’s mood. After the massacre is over, the music dies down to a single mournful drone as you are forced to retrace your steps through the blood and gore you so happily wreaked only moments ago. You’re given a chance to reflect on your motives and question why you’re even performing such atrocities in the first place, the lonely noise amplifying any mixed emotions you may feel. I never fail to be amazed at how effectively creepy such a simple level ending can be.
Miami Hotline is ultimately a great game with a soundtrack that is arguably of equal enjoyment to listen to. As far as indie games go, there is little doubt about the ingenuity of Miami Hotline and its music, hats off to Dennaton Games and the artists.