The design is minimalistic, yet has a clear and unique soul. The entire game is played in a top down view with blocky, pixelated graphics. While very gory and filled with blood, decapitations and the occasional disembowelment, the retro, 8-bit visuals means it still looks rather innocent. A psychedelic soundtrack that mixes rhythmic beats with electronic noise also adds to Hotline Miami’s old school vibe, while somehow remaining modern.
Hotline Miami loves the 80’s
The levels are well decorated with plenty of detail, though the outside of any building in the game world is simply a pastel colored gradient calling back to the 1980’s. Much of the game makes references to the 80’s: The previously mentioned graphics, the soundtrack, your in-game car (a DeLorean). Of course, much of the game’s inspiration, both in terms of its 80’s-like styling and the over-the-top violence, comes from the recent Ryan Gosling film Drive, which featured Ryan Gosling wearing a cool jacket and jumping on a guy’s skull in an elevator. The game’s designers have admitted that Drive was an inspiration and even thanked director Nicolas Winding-Refn in the credits.