REVIEW: ‘The Hong Kong Massacre’ is a John Woo-Inspired Thrill Ride (PS4)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Hong Kong Massacre

It is 1992 and a bloodbath has occurred on the streets of Hong Kong. Multiple locations have been hit and many criminals lie deceased. A lone suspect is brought in for questioning, only to be revealed as a man who once donned the badge to protect the citizens of Hong Kong. This is Hong Kong Massacre by Vreski Games. The Hong Kong Massacre was a game I originally played at the PlayStation booth at PAX West 2018. The top-down twin-stick shooter impressed me then with its portrayal of the grimy criminal underworld of Hong Kong, as well as polished gameplay and brutal gunplay. Now, the final game has been released on PlayStation 4 and Steam and it makes for a sharp, entertaining action experience.

The Hong Kong Massacre draws its inspiration from Eastern-based action films, most notably from director John Woo (The Killer.) For The Hong Kong Massacre, Vreski games took that art and translated it into a game.

The Hong Kong Massacre is played as a top-down twin-stick shooter in which players must navigate multiple stages and eliminate every hostile in each stage. The task is easier said than done, as players will not be donning kevlar body armor or have any regenerative health. The Hong Kong Massacre adopts the one-shot, one-kill approach. Players will die if hit once, but also, the enemies will die in a single hit as well.

Additionally, the stages take place in apartments, restaurants, and office spaces, among many other urban environments. There are no wide-open spaces to which players can take cover, and the environment changes incredibly quickly. Surprising an enemy in a kitchen may mean that the enemy in the bedroom can get the drop on you. To gain an advantage, players will be able to dodge and for a brief moment be invulnerable to gunfire.

The characters will slide, dive, and roll to avoid gunfire. Additionally, players will have a bullet-time meter, slowing the action down for players to place their shots and dispatch enemies with speed and accuracy. Players will need sharp, quick reflexes to bring down their foes. After a quick level showing the basics, players are off into the filthy criminal underbelly of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Massacre

The Hong Kong Massacre is an electrifying action experience with blood-tingling combat and sensational feedback. Bullets perforate enemies as well as the environment. Bullets rip through doors, paper walls, and fragile objects. The particle effects for the bullets and action are well done. The Hong Kong Massacre provides a stylized visual sensation to form the weapon discharge to the bullet effects on various surfaces.

Sparks, dust, pages, and fragments of fragile objects will fly throughout the gun battle. Shotgun, when fired, has a large boom effect, distinguishing its fire from other weapons. The Hong Kong Massacre establishes its own style and flair through its combat and overall presentation. Some players will compare this to Hotline Miami from Devolver Digital, but other than the core concept of twin-stick shooting and instant-death, these two games could not be any more different.

The Hong Kong Massacre has sharp gameplay, a distinct style, and an intriguing story, but is held back by some repetitiveness and presentation choices. Players will replay levels after the end game to accomplish challenges. This does extend the replay value but expect to die, respawn, and repeat constantly to accomplish these challenges. There are only four weapons in the game which can be upgraded to become more lethal. However, there is nothing much else in regards to weapons.

I would have appreciated a few more weapons, perhaps some nods to firearms from various movies, such as the Scorpion machine gun that Sylvester Stallone uses in the action/thriller Cobra.  Additionally, I would have imagined a few more levels that went further with the idea, such as using a mounted light machine gun to spray a gang hideout. Additionally, the story is told well-enough through cutscenes that appear from a Michael Mann movie, but the scenes also use text with no voice actors, limiting the immersion.

The Hong Kong Massacre is an enthralling crime story, with tight gameplay and a solid visual flair. Vreski games should be commended for achieving such a unique and engaging experience in a crowded gaming market. Strap yourselves in for one hell of a ride.

The Hong Kong Massacre is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC platforms.

The Hong Kong Massacre
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL; DR

The Hong Kong Massacre is an enthralling crime story, with tight gameplay and a solid visual flair. Vreski games should be commended for achieving such a unique and engaging experience in a crowded gaming market. Strap yourselves in for one hell of a ride.