The Hotline Miami series is pretty much over, with the possibility of a sequel only existing as an April Fool’s joke. While it is officially over, the spirit of the series is carried on through fan work. The second game has a level editor for people to play around with and there are mods in the works. One such mod is Midnight Animal, which originally started out as a continuation of Hotline Miami’s story but its narrative is now standalone and has become anime. Honestly? Good for that guy, he’s doing what he wants to do, even if it alienates fans that want more of the traditional stuff. Believe in yourself.
I found a promising mod that’s put out a demo while browsing through itch.io and I think it’s worth talking about.
A smooth noir theme plays as the title screen of Tokyo 2041 comes into view. Tokyo 2041‘s a mod worked on by various people, led by Pi0h, using music from familiar faces like Perturbator and new ones like Hollywood Burns.
The setting is exactly as the title indicates, taking place in a near-future Tokyo where the yakuza controls the government. The 80’s aesthetics are swapped out for a tech noir or cyberpunk one, the protagonist dressed as a punk rebel fighting against the yakuza in the only way Hotline Miami protagonists know how.
The level select screen is available from the start. The levels are all presented as Blu-ray cases as opposed to the second game’s VHS covers, which is a nice touch given the setting. You can hop right into a level and as the music starts up, you’re presented with three play styles:
- The first gives a silenced shotgun and the ability to use human shields. The shotgun itself is a neat weapon, but it actually works against the secondary ability, as it can only be used when wielding a one-handed weapon. I also noticed during my playthrough that there are few one-handed guns available. Also, who actually used body shields in Hotline Miami? I really feel that this play style needs changes.
- The second play style, which I think is the most useful, allows you to walk faster and starts you out with a katana. The weapon and effect actually blends well together, as your speed and the katana’s range can have you slicing people up before they even notice you.
- The third playstyle also has a katana, but it’s permanently equipped, giving you a few throwing knives for ranged weapons. It’s pretty much Biker but with a katana.
How’s the actual gameplay? It’s pretty much the same-old Hotline Miami action people want. Fast-paced action to great music, gunning enemies down with a character that dies in one hit. There are some glitches, which can be expected from a beta demo. Such as me standing next to an enemy shooting at me so they end up shooting past me instead, which was honestly kinda funny.
As for the design of the levels, I honestly think that they’re fair. My problem with playing a lot of the Hotline Miami 2 custom levels is that a lot of them fall into overly-hard territory, much like any game that has a level editor. Like yeah, it’s supposed to be a hard game, but stuffing everything with enemies just isn’t fun. As for this game, enemy placement is reasonable. The architecture of the levels are also very solid and nice to look at, coming off as believable places instead of “bizarre video game place.”
The demo does not have any cutscenes, though a member of the team, Cam, is apparently in charge of the script. Nothing’s said upfront about the protagonist, though one level has a wanted poster with somebody that looks vaguely like them. Maybe they’re a freedom fighter villainized by the yakuza controlled government. Or maybe they’re also a criminal in their own right and is the lesser of the evils. We may not know for a while.
Tokyo 2041‘s a great mod that captures Hotline Miami‘s spirit while maintaining its own aesthetics and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it in the future.