In the garage, I feel safe. No one cares about my ways.
There are roguelikes, there are soulslikes and, in my opinion, a few smashlikes exist now too. But I also feel like we’ve reached the point where we can now confidently use the term, “hotlikes.” That is, games inspired by and designed in the spirit of Hotline Miami. We got a pretty solid one last year in the form of Mr. Shifty, and on May 10, Mr. Shify’s publisher tinyBuild (as well as a different developer, Zombie Dynamics) bring us yet another hotlike in the form of Garage.
I had the chance to play Garage during my time at PAX East 2018, and my immediate thought when I started playing was, indeed, it is ‘one of those.’ Namely, an uber-violent, top-down shooter with retro-inspired graphics in which you kill enemies by aiming at them via a cursor a few in-game feet in front of you.
But after spending real time with Garage, the differences began to make themselves known. For one, I was (primarily) killing zombies and demons during my demo, and they seemed to vary a lot more in their movesets than the aggro-dependent dogs and gangsters seen in Hotline Miami. And based on the trailer, it seems we’re going to get significantly more advanced enemies than what I saw, including boss fights. The overall combat also came across as more sophisticated than either of the Hotline games, as there was a greater focus on dodging, ammo management, and enemies that take far more hits. There is also a racing element to the game, though I did not experience that aspect during my playtime.
Hotline Miami is one of my favorite games, so I enjoyed seeing such a natural hybrid between Hotline and the run-and-gun antics of DOOM (not to mention a bit of splatterpunk inspiration for good measure). The game offered a nice challenge, weapons felt pretty good, and the bad guys were creepy, so I would call myself both hopeful and tentatively excited for the finished product on the merits of gameplay alone.
Saying that, if I had two concerns, it would be the combat tightness and environmental design. While good, the combat didn’t feel as tight as some of the best games in the genre, and I wonder how that will affect the later, more difficult chapters. I think the culprit might be the constantly-moving reticle that makes it hard to get a consistent focal point, but I’m not entirely sure. As for environments, everything I’ve seen from the initial trailer and the demo suggests a lot of dark, poorly-lit spaces (and one trippy sequence), so I’m very much hoping there’s more diversity in environments than what the initial looks at the game showed.
Overall, I did have fun with what I’ve played, and I’m interested to see more when the game comes out next month. Until then, feel free to watch the recording of my demo below.