Review – The Hong Kong Massacre

We reviewers usually sound very uncreative when we summarise a game by calling it a mixture of two other titles, but can we be blamed when the developers themselves do that in order to promote their latest release? Case and point, The Hong Kong Massacre. There’s no better way to describe this game than the way Vreski, the developers, did: this is Hotline Miami meets Max Payne. This is a twin-stick shooter set inside a John Woo movie, featuring a ton of violence and bullet time sequences. Doesn’t that sound awesome? Yeah, I thought so as well.

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When death comes knocking at your door.

The Hong Kong Massacre plays just like Hotline Miami; it’s a twin-stick shooter in which you have a wide top-down view of the map and enemies inhabiting it. Your objective is to kill everyone before they shoot you, as you have no health bars; one hit and you’re dead. In order to help you not get killed with the ten trillion bullets being shoved in your direction at any given time, the developers have included two neat features: bullet time and dodging. The first feature allows you to slow down time and react against enemies before they even notice your presence onscreen, while the second feature allows you to not only dodge bullets with the help of the slow-motion feature, but also jump over ledges and cars, allowing for an extra bit of mobility. You can’t use these mechanics at all times, as there is a small meter for your bullet time mode, so it all comes down to carefully managing your resources in order to clear the level of all living beings holding firearms.

The Hong Kong Massacre is a very hard game, sometimes to the point of looking downright impossible to beat, but it’s also one of those games in which you learn from your mistakes and eventually manage to beat levels like a souped up John Wick. You respawn as quickly as you die, without a loading screen ruining the pace of the game. There are lots of weapons to wield, as well as lots of upgrades you can purchase with stars acquired at the end of each level, depending on how well you’ve performed. Those are all very simple mechanics that help improve the game’s overall replayability, as its duration and uninteresting plot don’t do it justice.

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“Meh, nothing unusual here…”

Controlling your character takes a while to get used to due to the erratic nature of the aiming cursor and the the fact you’re constantly pressing the bullet time and dodge buttons in order to do any offensive action. That applies to both controller and keyboard plus mouse. After a few minutes (and many deaths), you’ll start learning how to properly move your character and how to use all buttons in sychronicity. It’s not a simple control scheme by any means, even though it doesn’t use many buttons, but you’ll quickly get used to it. Even though the game is quite hard, it didn’t take long for me to achieve a no-bullet time, full accuracy run on a level.

Finally, the game also boasts very good graphics, especially for a title like this. The environments might be very repetitive, as they all retain the same grey and dreary color scheme, but it’s still impressive nonetheless. Especially when you notice the huge amount of lighting and particle effects onscreen, never influencing on the overall framerate, even on a less powerful piece of hardware like my laptop, which ran the game on maximum settings without breaking a sweat. There are also some very subtle but neat blurring effects whenever you activate bullet time.

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His mom didn’t teach him good manners.

The Hong Kong Massacre showed up from out of freaking nowhere and captivated me with its perfect balance of hair-removing difficulty and John Woo levels of stylish action. While the game’s level of challenge can intimidate newcomers, those who decide to face it will be treated with one of the coolest twin-stick shooters in years.

 

Graphics: 8.0

The Hong Kong Massacre features some impressive graphics and lighting effects even though you won’t be able to properly notice the amount of effort put into it due to the top-down perspective.

Gameplay: 8.0

Be it with a controller or with a mouse and keyboard, you’ll need a few minutes in order to get used to the mechanics, but they’ll quickly become second nature.

Sound: 7.0

The typical decent soundtrack you’d find in a Hong Kong action film. Can’t say the same about the sound effects or (lack of) voice acting.

Fun Factor: 8.5

The game is insanely hard, but equally addictive. It might be a bit intimidating for newcomers, but you’ll quickly learn from your mistakes and have a blast with this game’s stylish mechanics.

Final Verdict: 8.0

The Hong Kong Massacre is available now on PS4 and PC.

Reviewed on PC.

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