In Otxo, a recently released top-down twin-stick shooter with roguelike elements, you are a dancer amid violent white lines. You throw your body, time and time again, into walls of gunfire. Or you push your character’s back against a pillar, while desperately hoping you have enough time to reload. You kick open doors, and attempt to kill three men before they have the chance to react. Otxo is a game about constantly remixing and re-arranging familiar moments of choreographed violence.
I don’t want to yuck yums, but I really wish devs would stop trying to recapture the magic of Hotline Miami. Those are some of my favorite games, but every single one of the games I’ve seen that has tried to be “Hotline Miami but X” has completely failed to capture what made those games special, because in a way it’s impossible to replicate. In order to replicate it, you would have to do what those games did: take huge risks and try something new. I think games like Cruelty Squad are far closer than Ruiner.
Maybe this is a sort of jealous rhetoric, and I’m fine with people taking inspiration, people can make top-down action games if they want, but I’ve just always found it odd how many games I’ve seen try to very overtly ape those two games in a way that, in my view, completely misses the mark. Giving my character more health and bullet-time powers does the opposite of what I think is intended.
100% in agreement with all of these points. The thing that hopeful devs seem to take away from Hotline Miami is the format and presentation rather than the tone and intent. Hotline Miami is a cruel and misanthropic game, but the key takeaway seems to be that it was cool and stylish, so the natural “yes and” is to double-down on that impression.
I agree with this! But I think Ruiner is a a stranger point of comparison than, say, Hong Kong Massacre. I love Ruiner and I think it being compared to Hotline does it a kind of disservice. It doesn’t share the same kind of isometric perspective (Otxo and Hong Kong Massacre do) and its speed and pacing in combat are different. Frankly, I think I prefer it!
This actually kind of hits on something I’ve always had a problem with when it comes to games coverage: direct comparison of games as a metric of value and quality. I care much more about the things that make a game different than the things that make them alike. Cool, Otxo has the same perspective view as Hotline. I can see that. Are you just saying Hotline Miami for SEO or does the game really take that much from it??
I definitely agree that devs need to swing harder and take from their influences a little less directly, but I also think the way we talk about these games could be looked at too. How helpful is it to know that Otxo is like Hotline Miami to me?
Idk, maybe I’m off on this. But if someone asked me about a book like Name of the Wind and I told them it was like Game of Thrones I think I’d need to work hard to justify that.
I bring up Ruiner pretty much exclusively because someone said to me once “it’s like Hotline Miami” to which I said “No”. It’s a much more famous game too; games like 12 Is Better Than 6 aren’t really well known.
I’ve just looked up Hong Kong Massacre and it seems like a great encapsulation of what I’m talking about. Though I’m not sure how I would categorize about games like Not A Hero or My Friend Pedro. I think they are mechanically doing very different things, but I do get the sense they’re chasing a similar energy. They’re not rip-offs by any measure, but it does make me wonder if I should put them in the same bucket. Also, I looked up “games like hotline miami” to see what else came up (there’s a few pretty blatant rip offs) but I should mention as well Ape Out, which also takes huge swings and succeeds with style. (SUPERHOT also bears some similarities.)
I definitely wanna be careful not to rely too much on comparison. I really try to be cautious when making comparisons, and I think it’s often deeply unfair to art when we constantly define it on terms outside itself. It was something I was mulling over as I was writing that first post. The reason I think it’s worth talking about here is because the developers specifically mention it as an inspiration and are describing it as a “Hotline Miami-like”. This sort of forces us and asks us directly to think about the game in relation to it. I’m also not really speaking to the quality of Otxo itself. It could be very good! But this is, to me, based on this framing, an encapsulation of what I don’t like about how that game’s legacy has developed. And whether its charitable or not, the developers have encouraged me to keep it in mind.