The nature of Deeper In The Pile is a place where I can discuss the game with the understanding that spoilers are on the table. Also, I’m talking about Hotline Miami 2, a game full of violence and drugs and bad stuff. I’m putting the rest of the piece under the fold. Here’s an escape link if you’d like it.
Today, in Hotline Miami 2, I want to talk about interpretation. The theme of incompatible narrative is present in Hotline Miami, and the sequel takes that idea and runs with it. There’s a lot of Hotline Miami 2.Continue Reading →
Before we go any further though, Hotline Miami 2 is a game which has scenes of implied sexual violence, and scenes very much of not implied nonsexual violence. There is an excess of the latter. There is an option to skip the implied sexual violence, and no I do not necessarily think that makes it okay that it’s in there at all. Either way, it is best to know about such things ahead of time so you can make decisions.
I realised I’ll probably want to link to these pieces easily and since combing a blog is a pain in the ass, here’s my Hotline Miami pieces in order.
Deeper In The Pile:
They are all meant to be read in sequence, which is part of why they reference each other and repeat themselves and in some cases, quote themselves.
To talk about Hotline Miami is to talk about violence, about whether it matters, or it doesn’t.
I think there’s been a nervousness writing about Hotline Miami. There’s this sort of understated ha-haness to it all, this feeling that we’re all quietly looking around ourselves and double-checking that someone appropriately intelligent or important was saying it. I mean yeah, the game’s really good, you clearly play it well, but I feel at times in games journalism there’s an undercurrent of is this okay, a testing of the winds before we actually commit to comment.Continue Reading →
People compare Hotline Miami to drugs.
Fuck if I know. I’ve never done drugs.
But it does feel like anger.Continue Reading →
Let’s talk for a minute about Joel from The Last Of Us. I’m going to talk about themes and structure, but not about specific events. You may consider that spoilery.Continue Reading →
Play is important. Play, in that there is a space with rules and systems, where those rules and systems and the consequences thereof only matter within that space, is something foundational to humans, broader than we sometimes think. Our lives are big interconnected messes, and there is no true disentangling of the things we feel and live in our day to day lives with the games we play, but the rules of play itself are that we set something aside. That we see a boundary, and at least pretend that the play is apart from all of us.Continue Reading →
We love masks. The mask is powerful, the mask, the face you present. We talk about them all the time. Our heroes use them, our villains cower behind them. Hotline Miami is full of masks, and they divide Jacket as a character between being an agent and being an observer.
In all sequences where Jacket has a mask, Jacket is acting upon things; in any situation lacking a mask, he is either dead, an object, or he is an observer, being told to move and act. There is almost nothing that he can do beyond choose what to observe. The game implicitly then makes the masks into symbols of agency.
Which, really, they already are.Continue Reading →
You might have heard about the tension-release cycle in games. Usually horror, but it comes up in other discussions, sometimes simplified as pacing. Very simply, this is a cycle that, in order to maximise emotional payout, involves making the player tense for a moment, then giving them relief. The difficulty curve, a term we’ve become very accustomed to, where a game’s challenge increases over time, is also tied in here, and also to reward. When you start a game, rewards often come in small amounts, and you’re left staring at high costing items you know you won’t be able to afford until you can bring in much larger amounts of reward.
Hotline Miami has a very weird tension-release cycle. Particularly as it relates to the walk back.Continue Reading →
Let’s accept, ahead of time, that there is no such thing as purity in media. If there’s a piece of media that deliberately and as a point of its creation, never represents complexity or has room for interpretation, or strives to overwhelmingly represent a singular worldview without ambiguity, that particular media piece is probably closer to propoganda than makes me, at least, personally comfortable. Let’s accept that therefore, you can look at Hotline Miami as a scorching indictment of media violence and a disgusting, misogynistic piece where the only woman character is murdered, but. Let’s also accept that for some of us, there can be things in this game worth examining, worth picking through.Continue Reading →
When one is pushed to the outskirts of storytelling, one tends towards the extremes. This is why indie games have a fairly deserved reputation for weird or screwed up plots and characters. It’s rare to see an indie game which bothers to have a simple, good, emotionally driven story with fun characters and likeable dialogue, and that rarity is what makes Cave Story so fucking great. Still, when you turn away from that one shining jewel, indie gaming is a sea of metatexual narratives seeking to manipulate player perception. Ever since Bioshock did a number on what it meant to play an FPS, indie gaming has particularly been awash with games that are meant to question the audience for enjoying something fun.
Yes, it’s this classic gaming trope, the ‘mind of a loon’ driven narrative which tries to make the experience of violence enormously fun, and then make you feel bad for enjoying it.Continue Reading →