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The Hong Kong Massacre review for PS4, PC


Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: VRESKI
Developer: VRESKI
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

There are two essential bits of information you need to know if you’re going to play The Hong Kong Massacre.

First: your detective can dive and roll through doors, and he can do those things in slow motion.

Second, even if you master those moves, you’re going to die. A lot. Like, an absurd number of times.

Not only are these two bits of information linked, failing to understand the first one will increase the game’s difficulty to the point that it becomes virtually impossible. It took me a long (long, long) time before I learned about diving and slow motion, and the result was that it took me at least half an hour to clear the first level. Given that the game gives you a star for beating that same level in under thirty seconds, that should tell you how utterly impossible The Hong Kong Massacre is if you don’t know its core gameplay.

In my defense, the game doesn’t exactly tell you about rolling or diving. In fact, beyond a highly stylized cutscene, it doesn’t tell you a whole lot. It sets your detective down at the door of a gang-infested apartment with only a gun to keep you company, and expects you to figure things out on your own.

While I can’t say that my death-filled initial experience with The Hong Kong Massacre left me clamouring for more, I’m willing to accept full blame for that, since it’s not the game’s fault that they didn’t include a tutorial.

What I do blame The Hong Kong Massacre for, however, is for stealing/borrowing/ripping off so liberally from Hotline Miami — in that both are blood-soaked, top-down shooters — and failing to steal/borrow/rip off the things that made Hotline Miami so incredible. While Hotline Miami may have presented itself as a sleazy, gun-and-drug fuelled romp through ‘80s settings, when you looked beneath the surface you learned that it was a puzzle game at heart. Watch long enough, and you’d realize that opponents moved in a semi-predictable manner. You could move the camera around a little bit, and plan out your rampage in advance. It was an incredibly hard game, but it always felt fair.

The Hong Kong Massacre doesn’t have that, nor does it feel very fair. You can’t move the camera very far, near as I could tell. Opponents move in random directions. They all have pinpoint accuracy, whereas your character does not. The game says you can’t be hit while rolling or diving, but I died a couple of times when I was popping up out of a roll. In general, it seems to be more focused on delivering cool-looking kills than on offering a balanced experience.

In the game’s defense, many of those kills do look very, very cool. You can’t help but feel a little cocky when you blast a bad guy out an apartment window and down to his doom. And on top of that, there are the aforementioned cutscenes that look like they came out of particularly cinematic gangster movie. However unfair or iffy the gameplay may be, The Hong Kong Massacre unquestionably gets plenty of points for style.

But that doesn’t make it worth playing. Watching someone else play, maybe, but sinking your own time or money into it? Unless you played Hotline Miami and wished it featured more people shooting you dead from offscreen where you couldn’t even see them, you’re better off passing on The Hong Kong Massacre, because style is really all this game has to offer.

VRESKI provided us with a Hong Kong Massacre PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B-