Cactus

Hotline Miami interview: Dennaton Games on creating carnage to delight and disgust

Tom Francis at

Among indie developers, Jonatan ‘Cactus’ Söderström is legendary for his freakish productivity. He frequently makes games in less than a day, usually by himself, and releases them for free. But while his creativity shows no signs of running dry, his bank account does. So now he’s collaborating with artist Dennis Wedin on a larger game, one they can actually sell.

That’s Hotline Miami, a brutally violent, psychedelic top-down shooter about ambushing gangsters with everything from assault rifles to scissors. At PCG we thoroughly enjoyed it, so I asked Jonatan and Dennis about the thinking behind Hotline and what’s different about making a commercial game.


Hotline Miami review

Graham Smith at

Tear out a man’s throat and steal his bat. Knock a man down with a door and pound his skull into the tiles. Hurl the bat at a third man, climb on top, and pour scalding water on his face to watch him squirm. Take his machinegun and run, dancing, up the stairs towards more killing. Immediately get shot, die, and start again.

It only takes one bullet, stab or punch to kill you in Hotline Miami, but your fragility isn’t designed to encourage caution. Instant and frequent restarts instead lead you towards frantic repetition: it wants you to play recklessly, failingly fast and then urgently try again.