Some things go together so naturally you can barely imagine them apart. Peanut butter and chocolate spread. Ham and cheese. Yer da and poor patter. Half-Life 2’s map layouts and gravity gun with Hotline Miami’s musical stylings, graphics and fast-paced run ‘n’ gunning? Oh yes. As I’ve just discovered after downloading the totally free Half-Line Miami, they work together perfectly. It’s the work of Thomas Kole, a student, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
There’s two factors to Half-Line Miami’s success. One is that it retains the pace and required aim of Hotline Miami despite totally switching how fights play out. You have to grab various objects in the world with right mouse, then aim fairly carefully to take out oncoming Combine and zombies. Comboing a few together means managing not only initial hits but the angles at which your projectiles will ricochet. It also leaves you completely vulnerable any time you stumble and requires good awareness of how you’re moving to dodge bullets, keep enemies in sight and grab new objects.
The second is that all the right elements of Half-Life 2 have made it over to ensure familiarity despite sharing almost no actual game functions. Top-down sillouhettes are similar to their source engine counterparts. Sound effects are directly copied, from zombie screams to combine death-whistles. The first map starts in a train station that isn’t identical to that iconic City 17 opening of HL2, but has just enough of the same shape to be pleasing to my brain, which knows that level better than most of the houses I’ve lived in. It’s a recognisable locale for this new way to play, and I love it.