Magnificent And Important Advent Calendar: Day 22

By RPS on December 22nd, 2012 at 12:00 pm.


Twenty-two is a number that is important for all sorts of reasons, but perhaps the most important is that it is the neighbour of the eerie and secretive 23. Twenty-two is our only good way of keeping an eye on what twenty-three is up to, and it’s often on the phone, reporting his activities. That weird bastard… I bet he has a gimp locked in the basement.

Anyway.


It’s… Hotline Miami!

Alec:

We’ve talked a lot about Hotline Miami’s death-lathe-like man-killing fluidity and the evil rhythm of its soundtrack, but those are perhaps only the more surface parts of its remarkable puzzle. It’s easy to sum up HLM as a dark stoner fantasy – I know I have, albeit with tongue somewhat in cheek – but really it’s an uncommonly meticulous game. Everything, it seems, is in there for a reason. The map and enemy layout of each of level, despite superficial similarities at least in the earlier stages, regularly demands new and challenging twists on the game’s darting strategy purely by how cleverly and cruelly it places doors, walls, windows, dogs and weapons.

How do you cope with two guys with machine guns waiting behind a plate glass window that you have to run past? How do you deal with a setup which means six guys will probably rush you as soon as you step into the first hallway? And Jesus, what about that mid-game boss fight? It’s hideous. It’s supposed to be hideous.

For all its glibness, Drive-aping, neon-drenched excess and adrenalised brutality, Hotline Miami is created with watchmaker-precision. Each level is a devious new puzzle, artfully and sadistically escalated from the one before – slight twists to layouts and placements leading to brand new challenge. In addition to making relatively simple 2D art and featureless characters consistently create distinctively different and evocative environments, of course.

The same is true, I think, of the destabilising cutscenes and storytelling. It’s not so much that there’s a coherent tale to be unravelled by those willing to put the parts together in the right order, but that the scenes of our blood-soaked hero conversing with animal-headed aspects of his own psyche seem to be carefully placed to undermine triumphant feelings.

Just when you’re feeling at your most superheroic, like you’ve mastered the killing flow and with that self-satisfaction put to bed those nagging doubts that maybe you’re just a murderous thug, the music will turn into fever-dream Hellraiser, the light will dim and fracture, and a malevolent spirit with a horse’s face will turn up to cryptically belittle you. The toll this take on confidence and sureness can be a heavy one, and that too helps escalate the challenge of the subsequent level.

Whatever we want to think of the game’s concept, especially in the context of what dominates the news at the moment, the other thing to know and to unquestionably celebrate about Hotline Miami is that this is truly a master at work. Clear, focused, meticulous vision creating such a finely-tuned engine. Everything there for a reason, and all those reasons have an effect on how the game plays – and how it makes its alternately cocky and alarmed player feel. Similarly, HLM’s controls and stripped down to bare essentials for a reason, so that the very most can be wrung from movement, planning and reaction, to that there is always certainty in what will happen so long as the player’s strategy was a sensible one.

It’s a brilliant, important piece of game design as well as being crowd-pleasing day-glo odyssey of gratuitousness, and gleaming proof of what absolute purpose can achieve even with minimal tools (in this case Gamemaker). Were I voting alone, this sinister masterpiece would be the game behind the 24th window of our calendar.

John: I don’t get it. And that makes me sad. Very glad that people are are loving it so much, though.

Adam:

I was thirteen when I saw the screenshot below, or one very much like it, in a magazine. I think it was Amiga Power, although who trusts memories almost two decades old?

The game is Dreamweb and it’s notable for two reasons:

1) It’s the first game I ever saw a bare naked willy in.

2) Since I saw that screenshot all those years ago, I’ve been waiting for Hotline Miami to exist.

Dreamweb’s screenshots promised a different perspective on violence – a top-down, situational view that told its story of struggle and slaughter by means of bloody trails and crumpled bodies. The top-down view is so well-suited to the aftermath.

In Hotline Miami, the gap between the action and the aftermath is minute, measured in the emptying of a chamber or the crunching descent of a baseball bat. It’s one of the most rhythmic games I’ve ever played and causes the same muscle memory twitches as Super Hexagon. TICK TICK BOOM RESTART CRUNCH SPLATTER CLICK DEAD AGAIN. I haven’t played enough of Terry Cavanagh’s latest to know if I’ll ever improve at unpicking its death-wall lock-tumbling angry-shapes, but the music, the hypnotic pace and the incorporation of instantaneous restarts place it somewhere in the vicinity of Hotline Miami in my mind.

How important is the soundtrack? Hugely. The best way to talk about the music is like this.

What I always come back to when I think about those few neon hours just before dawn when I clobbered and clattered my way through the game is the fact that death ceased to matter. My finger hit the key to restart before I’d even processed my character’s extinction and I was back, and so was everybody else. Some of them carried different weapons and maybe a different one would land the inconsequential killer blow and then, quicker than thought, we’d be dancing again.

Hotline Miami is very good at aftermath – the crawling wounded, the finishing blow, the corpse slumping against a wall – but I resurrected almost as many men as I killed. Only to kill them again, sure, but I was dying a hell of a lot too and I felt fine afterwards. Maybe a bit miffed on occasion but fundamentally and soundly A-OK. Healthy, happy and none the worse for the thousand red flowers that had bloomed from my pixel-form.

In the sickened pop culture stew of Hotline Miami, I don’t reload guns, I reload lives, with the twitch of a finger and the slightest impact on a key. Whole again, ready again, impossible to extinguish. It’s not about death, it’s about the split seconds before it and how to make them last a lifetime.

Which is about forty seven seconds.

__________________

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123 Comments »

  1. Drayk says:

    So X-Com is RPS game of the year. I guess it’s deserved.

    • CMaster says:

      I increasingly wonder if it really could be FC3. Feels like there hasn’t been enough gushing about it from the Hivemind though.

      • Ninja Foodstuff says:

        It will be Far Cry 3. You heard it here first.

        • khomotso says:

          I’m inclined to agree, mostly because I didn’t really care for it, and that’s how the world works.

          Both XCOM and FC3 have big asterisks next to them, in my view. They both have flaws that run pretty deep. If they’re the final two, it puts the ‘this was a great year for games’ story in perspective. It was a great year for a lot of good games. It was not a year for great games.

        • Red Pen says:

          I’m hoping for Natural Selection 2. (Don’t think it has already been mentioned.)

          Definitely my game of the year and probably the most `AAA’ indie game I’ve ever seen.

        • Shooop says:

          It shouldn’t be.

      • ArthurBarnhouse says:

        I haven’t played Far Cry 3 yet. What did you like about it? It kinda just seems like FC2 but with more racism when I watch the videos

      • Shooop says:

        It’s got some OK open world stuff but it’s still bogged down with bullshit QTEs and unskippable cutscenes which they try to claim is satire but is really a half-assed impersonation of satire recorded over a cell phone.

    • Jackablade says:

      There’s 2 days left. Still room for a dark horse to take the prize. Or something.

    • NathanH says:

      I’d have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, it’s always good if a strategy game wins. On the other hand, it’s not the best strategy game of the year, and there’s only one RPS person who really has the critical authority to claim it’s the best strategy game of the year, and I suspect he wouldn’t say it is.

      As I said on an earlier thread, it makes sense: XCOM is a strategy game designed for people who don’t really play strategy games.

      • Xuebei says:

        I still think that Spec Ops: The Line deserves to win, biggest effect on me personally and I think on anyone who played it the whole way through. It showed what games can be, no other media form could have conveyed story in such a way with those kind of hard hitting emotion. It made you feel like a monster and let you make sense of comical villains in a sense

        • basilisk says:

          Yeah, very much this. I honestly believe that future videogame historians will consider Spec Ops: The Line one of the milestones of the medium’s development. Not including it in the calendar would be baffling to say the least.

          • Billards says:

            ‘Spec Ops: The Line’ is probably my personal GoTY, with ‘The Walking Dead’ as a close second. I feel like those two games actually advanced the medium substantially, due their utterly unique ways of engaging the player (albeit completely differently). I came out of ‘The Line’ feeling like a complete and utter monster; it reminded be a lot of ‘BioShock’ in that respect.

            Although for the record, I did bloody love ‘Hotline Miami’.

          • tobecooper says:

            I agree! Spec Ops deserves at the least a mention!

          • F3ck says:

            wadr…

            Spec Ops: the Line must have been had one hell of a story – because I honestly hated the game so much I couldn’t stand more than 30-45 minutes of it…

            …I’m having a hard time reconciling the bland game that I played with the warm fuzzies that it gets around here…

            [edit] “been had” was a Freudian slip

          • basilisk says:

            F3ck: yes, it very much is. The first 45 minutes or so absolutely are your run-of-the-mill modern military 3rd person cover-based shooter, but that’s for a very good reason. After that, well, there comes one particular setpiece which sets the mood for the rest of the game. You’ll know what I mean when you get to it. And you’ll understand.

            Honestly, the only problem the game has is that the actual gameplay never rises above “passable”. But once you let the game sink its teeth into you, trust me you won’t mind.

          • Gorf says:

            I got to the bit where I fell down some really steep hole and was left on my own…….thats where I gave up.

          • F3ck says:

            …hmmm…

            …perhaps you’ve persuaded me to reexamine…

            (now I just need someone to convince me that Dark Souls is worth trying to fix)

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            I honestly believe that future videogame historians will consider Spec Ops: The Line one of the milestones of the medium’s development.

            Only if future videogame historians are trying to figure out how the hell the worth of a videogame came to be judged by the level of poorly manipulated emotion rather than, say, good game design.

            Spec Ops is not an important game and never will be.

          • Xocrates says:

            @Runs With Foxes: Spec Ops IS an important game, but it probably is more important at an academic level than it is at a mainstream or industry level.

            The gameplay may never rise above ‘meh’ and you can argue all you want about “emotional manipulation”, but what the game does, with what it has, and with what it’s trying to do is, quite frankly, rather amazing.

            The thing isn’t whether the game succeeded or not, the thing is that it is one of the very few games that even tried.

          • I Got Pineapples says:

            Hrm.

            Here’s my issue with Spec Ops: The Line.

            I get what it’s trying to do. Which is nice, I guess. I mean, it’s trying.

            I just find the way it’s doing it so clumsy and awkward that I feel it kinda does us a disservice to give it a pat on the head for it. A pat on the head I kinda feel it’s getting because it’s preaching partially to an audience that already has issues with the genre it’s addressing that it gives them kind of an attack of the smugs.

            I mean, at the point where you’re less subtle than the Metgal Gear Solid series of all things is the point I go ehn.

            Also the game itself was really not very good. At all. And the thing is it wasn’t intentionally not that good because you can see where they were trying, even in the post ‘Ooooh, aren’t you terrible’ phase.

        • Low Life says:

          Wait, 2 days left and we haven’t had XCOM, Spec Ops and Far Cry 3? That’s just silly.

          • Isair says:

            Given that John was still in uplay rant mode on november 30th, it’s possible that Far Cry’s too late to be included.

      • greenbananas says:

        I kinda get the feeling, but would it be worth it if the reasoning was “it made strategy/turn-based fashionable again”? It’s not exactly my ideal squad/turn-based game, but under that assumption I’d rather it got the distinction rather than “Far Cry 2 done right” (haven’t actually played FC3).

        • NathanH says:

          Perhaps. It’s not yet at all clear what the influence of XCOM will be for strategy gaming. It’s the sort of thing we need to come back in a few years and look at.

      • Corrupt_Tiki says:

        Has Wargame European Escalation been featured yet? That was a tremendously good game.

        • Dominic White says:

          Nope, and I’ll be very surprised if it’s part of the advent calendar. Somehow the entire gaming press forgot it existed, despite it being my favourite strategy game of the year by a very large margin.

          • Bhazor says:

            It’s one of those games I’ve only heard in passing but always in a positive light. I guess this is how cult classics come into being.

          • Winterborn says:

            Amazing game with an admirable DLC policy.

      • CMaster says:

        Spec Ops may be your game of the year and has got plenty of attention across the net, but it clearly didn’t interest the RPS hive mind very much, so it won’t be appearing in this list

      • PopeRatzo says:

        I’m trying to figure out why I should pay $60 to be made to feel like a monster.

        The game would be better if it at least gave you the option to not BE a monster, even if that means at a certain point being given the choice to go AWOL or put a bullet into my own head. But when a game sets out to give you only one choice of action and that action is designed to make you feel monstrous, then the best I can say is that I hope it doesn’t become so influential that other games try to copy it.

        • basilisk says:

          There *is* the option of going AWOL: you can always stop playing. That’s a big part of the game’s message, actually.

          It does this BioShock-ish thing where the whole game very much questions the issues of choice and illusion of choice in gaming (and in war), but it’s a lot more subtle about it than BioShock ever was.

        • PikaBot says:

          Yes all media’s focus should be to coddle your precious feelings. Forget truth, emotional impact, or being memorable, pablum for everybody!

    • MeestaNob says:

      Game of the year will be Batman.

    • beekay says:

      :( It better not be – the game’s tendency to quietly spawn cyberdiscs and chrysalids right next to my soldiers during terror missions, the existence of only one lone dropship in the entire world, and the utter shittiness that is its endgame means I’m kind of angry it’s being put so high on the calendar.

      edit: also hotline miami is *amazing* but let’s keep our priorities straight, bitching comes first here

    • DyingTickles says:

      They called day 23 eerie and secretive, and I think XCOM fits that description better than FarCry 3, so XCOM will be tomorrow and FarCry 3 is their game of the year.

    • darkath says:

      RPS’s GOTY is Crusader Kings, or did they already post it in the christmas list ? A quick tag search tells me they didn’t.

  2. Totally heterosexual says:

    This game is so goooooood~

  3. CMaster says:

    I honestly came out of Hotline Miami feeling pretty broken. The slaughter, the pulsing music, the fact that the character you control clearly has psycotic episodes. I just didn’t know quite what to think. Other than maybe if I threw that baseball bat just there, then lured him to this door, maybe I could just get past that fucking window.

  4. FullMetalMonkey says:

    Thank you RPS for reminding me what the date was.

  5. greenbananas says:

    Hotline’s not best? Boo! Hiss!! John is siding with The Man!!!

  6. Shazbut says:

    At the very least, it’s the most perfect fusion of game mechanics and design that I can think of. If that’s not art then…well…

    • PopeRatzo says:

      I think I would really enjoy the game, but I’m just so bad at it that I can’t play. I think I’m on about the sixth level, and I’ve tried about a hundred times but the bad guys move so fast that I don’t stand a chance.

      Any tips?

      • greenbananas says:

        I don’t think you’re coming at the game with the “right” angle. Dying 100 times isn’t failing at the game when reviving is so fast and you’re not punished for it. That’s what’s supposed to happen. First couple of tries you get the map down; next 5-10 you try ordering the rooms into what makes the most sense (and the objective here should be moving fast, catching them offguard and not alerting guards you aren’t ready to kill); the rest of the tries is just ironing out the route to perfection.

        Don’t neglect to make use of both the shift key (spy mode) and the middle mouse button (lock on), even in conjunction if you’re carrying a firearm (or are within range of throwing your weapon at the baddie); also, guard movement is predictable when they’re chasing you- grab a gun, fire a shot and then hide behind a door and pick them off as they come in (which is exactly what you should do if you mean the level I think you mean (Full House)- just get a gun after you clean the first floor and then use that and the gun of the guy that’s taking a piss and lure them into the bathroom for easy pickings).

      • yogibbear says:

        Guns attract unwanted attention ;)

  7. sinister agent says:

    Ah, Dreamweb. Excellent idea, atmospheric, sad and oddly wistful music… largely terrible game. And they almost completely wasted the plot and kind of interesting world. You played a guy whose life is a bit of a mess, who has dreams in which he’s told to murder the seven people who will bring about the end of the world. So he does. Even though they all appear to be innocent.

    They really didn’t do much with it though, and they sorely underused the girlfriend he was living with, who obviously loved him, but from whom he was become increasingly detached. She also worked with one of the victims, or worked at the place where you murder him, I forget, but the game never did anything with that.

    It would benefit a lot from a remake, I reckon, if you got some good writers on board and made the world a bit more open, although I doubt it’ll happen.

    Nice animations, too. I’d not thought of that connection to Hotline Miami, but I can definitely see it now.

  8. noodlecake says:

    I’m with John. I don’t get it. I want to get it because it’s something for me to feel part of an exclusive club of people who are getting a unique experience from a left field game but I played about 5 or 6 levels and just found it frustrating and not all that fun. A few of my friends are cpompletely in awe of it though.

    Personally I would probably go Awesomenauts for my favourite game of the year. Maybe… Although Far Cry 3 has been lots of fun too!

    • Ernesto25 says:

      I’m with you and John on this one but ill give it another go but the game just didn’t grab me after an hour’s play.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I think it’s the favourite with press who are otherwise extremely jaded with so-called “modern” games.

      • Ernesto25 says:

        Having given it a go again i kind of get it but don’t have a desire to play for more than 30min at the time. I’ts weird to see some flaws defended as “it was put there for a reason” like the different weapons every time i load throwing any planning i had out the window. I just see myself randomly clicking and hoping i live maybe its a parody of most online fps shooters?

        But seriously the AI is weird/broken. it generally feels like the AI only acts if they are on screen so 3 people will run from 4 rooms away at the sound of a gunshot but the guy next door off screen just stands there off screen. i don’t mind the idea of planning or dying ala FTL but just gets dull after a while for me.

      • ArthurBarnhouse says:

        That’s unfair. It’s well liked by gamers too, not just critics. I can understand not getting into it, it’s weird, the story is oblique, and the violence can be a bit much. It might just be a game that you don’t like for some reason or another. I don’t really like The Binding of Issac. There’s no accounting for taste.

      • soldant says:

        Personally I think the majority of indie games are crap, particularly the “enigmatic” (read: ambiguous and pointless) ones, but HLM was genuinely fun to play. For me playing it was like playing through someone else’s nightmare, and even if I didn’t necessarily understand everything that was going on, the gameplay was still engaging enough. Yeah, it’s Nintendo-hard, but it’s a good feeling to pull off a fast-paced violent attack on a bunch of faceless somebodies.

  9. Prime says:

    SO over-hyped, this one! Some great tunes, some meh tunes. Gameplay mostly writ monochrome – move, kill, move, kill kill, move….boring after about five minutes of repetition, never mind the hundred attempts you need to luck your way through each level.

    I actually regret buying this.

    • Terragot says:

      Same, I feel compelled to express how much I disliked this one after all the press coverage it had.

      EDIT : Also, everyone keep mentioning that everything is there for a reason, or everything is meticulously crafted to be the epitome of game design, yet fail to back it up with any examples or explanation.

      • Imbecile says:

        Its difficult. I agree to some extent, though I can still see why people like it.

        For me, it was a little one-note, and some of the mechanics made no sense. Why can I only damage this Boss when his knife is stuck in a wall? Why am I invincible to gun fire when gouging someone on the floor, or standing on their toes? Why is it possible to be trapped by police between two levels with the only option to restart?

        I liked the masks, the style and the music, but ultimately the gameplay felt like GTA meets Rick Dangerous.

      • tobecooper says:

        OK, let me start off with some examples why the game is an example of great design:
        * You die a lot but restarting takes less than a second (decreases frustration – for some completely, for some a bit).
        * The game is hard but requires skill to make your actions look cool (some people use it for fun stealth with a baseball bat, some don’t care and just shoot)
        * The music is chosen in such a way as to improve the experience and it does add atmosphere.
        * It looks simple, it plays simple, but is replayable quite a bit (again, for some, I still replay it quite a bit)

        • Ninja Foodstuff says:

          But it’s too dependent on twitch though. I mean I GET that’s exactly why people like it, but for people like me who don’t have the necessary reflexes any more, I can’t enjoy it fully. I can’t enjoy any game where I know what needs to be done but can’t manage the coordination. See also Legend of Grimrock.

      • Vesuvius says:

        From the article above, Alec said:

        ” Everything, it seems, is in there for a reason. The map and enemy layout of each of level, despite superficial similarities at least in the earlier stages, regularly demands new and challenging twists on the game’s darting strategy purely by how cleverly and cruelly it places doors, walls, windows, dogs and weapons.

        How do you cope with two guys with machine guns waiting behind a plate glass window that you have to run past? How do you deal with a setup which means six guys will probably rush you as soon as you step into the first hallway? And Jesus, what about that mid-game boss fight? It’s hideous. It’s supposed to be hideous.”

        And he went on to explain a lot more about what he considered to be clever design. I suggest reading the article if you’d like an in-depth explanation. The words above may very well answer all of your questions.

        • Imbecile says:

          I actually dont think theres much justification for that boss fight. It was bad. It was hideous. So what if it was intended to be?

          In the same way that it doesnt really matter that the Far Cry 3 author thought his story was an incredibly clever satire, the reality was that the story was largely tripe to play through. The same is true of the boss fight.

          As for everything being there for a reason. I agree to some extent, but I noticed that many of the weapons that are on the floor, and held by guards were randomised, which kind of undermines that point a little.

          How do you deal with each set piece? There are usually a number of options but trial and error plays a big part. I suppose I prefer to scope the joint, come up with a plan and implement it first time round if I can. Pulling off your plan *eventually* is less satisfying, to me at least. Dark Souls shares some DNA with Hotline Miami in this respect, but oddly I really liked Dark Souls. Maybe it was slightly more forgiving? :P

          To be clear, I thought Hotline Miami was decent, but in the end it was just not my cup of tea.

          • Outright Villainy says:

            Dark Souls will mash you into the ground a lot, but you’ll at least see it coming 99% of the time, and be able to do something about it if you’re patient/skilled enough. Hotline Miami was often frustrating for me because guards outside my field of vision would be spraying bullets at me and I’d have no way of seeing them beforehand. It’s the same problem I had with the top down GTA games, I just felt far too limited in how I could assess a situation.

          • Just Endless says:

            “In the same way that it doesnt really matter that the Far Cry 3 author thought his story was an incredibly clever satire, the reality was that the story was largely tripe to play through. The same is true of the boss fight.”

            I think that’s a really good point, not only with regards to the boss fights, but to that abysmal stealth level.

            And beyond that, my problem with Hotline Miami is that it NEVER WORKED. Ever. People still rave about polish, but the reason I quit is, after dealing with its bullshit of not saving my game, and crashing for the whole first week, they ‘fixed it,’ and it was still entirely broken.

            That stealth level? Never told me to get in that elevator. I had to look up a walkthrough.
            I suspect to this day people fall through walls all the time.
            I also suspect the AI still has irrational logic of not caring when they find their friend dead, as long as they didn’t see the death (or however it brokenly works).

            I gave this game 4 hours of my life, and I don’t care to give it more. Thanks RPS, for not making this game your GOTY. Also, the music’s cool. Go support M|O|O|N, that guy rocks.

    • wengart says:

      Hotline Miami is a game that just clicked for me. A minute or two in and I was enthralled by it, and then an hour passes in a blur. The people I know who liked all had that general consensus, and those who didn’t like or at least didn’t find it as amazing never really got it to click like that.

  10. Yehat says:

    This one’s GOTY for me. Alec couldn’t have said it better – even the tiniest details demonstrate incredible understanding of action game mechanics and aesthetics. It’s an amazing achievement both artistically and in terms of video game entertainment. Shame about the bugs, though.

    • Prime says:

      Big claims. For those of us that bounced right off it would you care to elaborate on any point?

      • Yehat says:

        Alec already wrote lots of smart words above, but I’ll try to explain my point. I guess the reason why people have trouble explaining what exactly made Hotline Miami so special is that you can’t really just pick some parts of it from here and there to showcase it. Everything about it, the frenetic pacing, the soundtrack, the psychedelic visuals works towards the one goal of sinking you into a kind of a pseudo-murderous trance, making you feel like a hyperkinetic and schizophrenic superhero of a hitman.

        It’s also extremely self-aware and openly acknowledges just how fucked-up its premise actually is, and eventually directly mocks the player for trying to justify the violence by attempting to make sense of the plot. Yes, the boss fights and the hospital level are annoying on purpose. They’re there to break the trance, bring you down from the level-finishing high and remind you that you’re only as powerful as the devs want you to be.

        There are so many small things I love about Hotline Miami. How it associates different playstyles with different masks, and the masks with different personas of the player character. How the only time to music stops is at the end of a level when you run back to your car past the mutilated bodies of all the mobsters you murdered this time. The endings that pretty much give you the finger for even thinking there should be a logical explanation for all the bloody, nonsensical events.

        I can easily see why many people are left cold by it, though, especially with all the hype sprawling around it. If any part of the whole fails to make the impression it should on you, you won’t “get” it. And that’s okay, too, because it’s a sign that we’re finally starting to judge games more based on our personal impressions rather than genre preferences or production values.

        • Prime says:

          A great response. Thank you, Yehat. Sadly it doesn’t change the fact that as well designed as it may be it’s still repetitive to the point of tedium. For me, anyway. I’m with Mr Walker ont his one: I just don’t get why people are falling over themselves to praise something so essentially dull.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            Because the people who like it don’t find it dull? In another post you boiled the game down to ‘move, kill, move, kill’, but you could boil any game down to basic stuff like that. It also describes Far Cry 3, or Dishonored, or any other action game.

            In Hotline Miami, you do restart each level maybe dozens of times, but everything happens at such a fast pace that it doesn’t matter. In fact so many developers need to learn from its example: don’t put barriers in between players and play. Let us get into the action immediately. What you see as dull repetition, others see as continual refinement of a strategy (which direction to move in, which weapon to use, when to use it). The game’s often chaotic, but there is always that combination of planning and improvisation, and there is appeal in shaving an extra millisecond off your response time and coming out on top.

          • Nogo says:

            If you were with Walker you wouldn’t be a dick by implying we’re all damaged for liking something you don’t. Feel free to think it’s dull, but don’t act like this is the emperor’s clothes.

  11. Cytrom says:

    I’m so relieved this wasn’t chosen as RPS’ GoTY.

    • Low Life says:

      I feel bad for it, but so am I. I mean, it’s not really my business and has asolutely no effect on me, but I still can’t think of this game as GOTY. Makes me want to slap someone.

      As for the game itself, I thought it was ok until it crashed 5 times in the last (?) boss fight. Now I don’t really care about it at all.

  12. felisc says:

    To me the biggest success of this game is its ability to merge itself with actual trendy clubby music, its hip cover art etc … it forms a whole nice package that feels very much “now”. a trendy fashiony now, but a “now” nonetheless. I had fun playing it, no way i’d consider it a goty though.

  13. Radiant says:

    I agree with John but probably for different reasons.

    I said this before, but this is a game made by Nathan Barley.
    It’s cool yeah?

    • Radiant says:

      Actually it’s not just that it’s got that vibe yeah? so it’s cool yeah? because it’s violent but it’s cool violence yeah? But it’s not cool cause the main character is balding yeah?

      Mechanically it’s poor too.
      Use the horse head and either the knife, the assault rifle or the 6 round shotgun and you’ll run through the game with an A+.

      • Tamath says:

        Other people have levelled criticisms at the game I dislike (such as demanding precise examples of how the game puts everything somewhere for a reason), but as you are such an incredible tit you actually wrote a reply to yourself, I’ll dump my bile here.

        Firstly, people expressing relief or even joy that HLM isn’t game of the year. That’s incredibly odd. I can only assume you’re seizing upon this “vindication” that a game you personally didn’t like didn’t receive the plaudit, therefore validating your self-centred opinion that a game can’t POSSIBLY be any good to anyone because *you personally didn’t like it*. (Incidentally when I use “you” here, I’m talking about a general you and not specifically Radiant. Flaw of the English language, but I digress).

        So many people crawl out of the (generally decent) RPS comment woodwork to be what TV Tropes describes as “Fan Haters”, people who hate not only a work, but fans of that work. So feel free, Radiant (who I am now addressing directly, do keep up) to imply that fans of the game are shallow and superficial, impressed only with its shock factor and not how it plays. I’ll feel free to think you’re an arsehole.

        • Radiant says:

          You’re weird.

          • Radiant says:

            There is no RPS game of the year.

          • Nogo says:

            You’re in for a surprise come the 24th.

            And how is it mechanically broken if you use weapons and a mask? That’s like saying FC3 is broken if you use a gun.

        • Prime says:

          Woah, Tamarth. You just made yourself sound like a right sanctimonious lady-part. Is there anyone you didn’t mean to offend with that post?

          Too much rage in the mind-tank, mate. Take five, have a brew.

  14. Imbecile says:

    Amiga Power was awesome.

    That is all.

  15. Outright Villainy says:

    This and Spec ops the line are probably high on my list of most overrated games this year. I thought it was a pretty okay game, but nothing special aside from the Soundtrack and trippy visuals. I played it through to the end, but never really felt anything playing through. No elation, a bit of frustration, and just a lot of waiting for the game to get amazing, which it never did. I did enjoy the game, and Spec ops for that matter, but VVVVVV had the same fundamentals of die a lot, have simple yet tight controls and have a fantastic aesthetic and just executed it all about twenty times better. Completely different genres yes, but I do like the core concepts.

    Also off topic, but Spec ops fell short in its execution for me because of its gameplay. Yes, I know the point is the story, I was going in knowing that and wanting that; however, I felt the actual message it was going for would have resonated a lot better if the gameplay was actually enjoyable. Give me the gameplay from Max Payne 3, where I’m having gun-fu ballet, spraying bullets everywhere and enjoying it, shooting indiscriminately. Then the reactions after to what you were doing would feel much more potent. As it was I was going through the motions, always aware of what the game was about to set up, seeing past the curtain as it were. The atmosphere was top notch, the acting was good, but in terms of narrative gut punch it felt just lacking overall.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      Yeah. I think the big issue is that if you’re indifferent to the current genre whipping boy of choice of military shooters, then take like five minutes to sit down and think about it, you start tending towards the ‘Wait…that wasn’t deep, that was actually kinda stupid.’ train of thought.

  16. Gorf says:

    So….is there no way Dark Souls: PTD, can be included in this?
    It was released on consoles before this year, but the PC edition with the extra content was out this year, and there was a WiT.

  17. Buttless Boy says:

    I think some people have something in their brain that just squirts out happiness when they play this game. The combination of thumping mad club music, swirly oversaturated graphics, and David Lynch plot just makes me want to lick my screen. It’s like a drug.

    Other people seem to react purely unemotionally and wonder what the fuss is about for such a garish game. I feel bad for them.

  18. Ernesto25 says:

    Having given it another chance i can now say i “get it ” but i still feel that half the time im clicking aimless and getting through by dumb luck. I also can’t shake the feeling when i was younger i played games like these on miniclip and after a while i grow bored of it too and go on to plat flash sonic or something.

    Also is the AI going for the STALKER award or something? Some people will run from rooms across when they hear gunshots whilst another guy in the adjacent room will just stand looking at the wall making it feel very inconsistent and trail and error. I do get it though.

  19. Squishpoke says:

    I’m surprised that Natural Selection 2 has not even made the list yet. If it doesn’t, I will be very sad, since that will mean somehow Dark Souls and Thirty Flights of Loving made it instead (the worst PC port I’ve ever seen and a 15-minute cute little art project, respectively).

    Natural Selection 2 the best PC game I’ve played since 2007, in my opinion.

    • airtekh says:

      NS2 probably won’t make the list because none of the hivemind seem to have written about it with particular enthusiasm, which is a shame.

      Jim’s WIT lamented the fact that he didn’t have enough time to play it, otherwise it may have made the 24, I think.

      I’ve no doubt that it will be in RPS’s ‘Best of the rest’ list, which they usually do after christmas.

      It reminds me of the Frozen Synapse debacle of last year, when I was convinced that FS was going to be one of the 24, but it was not to be.

    • qrter says:

      Thirty Flights has already been, hasn’t it?

  20. SonicTitan says:

    I’m surprised that Hotline Miami didn’t make RPS’ game of the year. At this point I’m guessing Xcom, but either way I won’t be disappointed.

    Hotline Miami is an incredibly important game. This is a game that made chainsawing men in half in Gears of War look like a cartoon. This is a game that mocked Grand Theft Auto. This is a game that hated its own players. The amount of backlash against HLM is proof, to me, that it took some ridiculous risks, and emerged on the other side victorious. We kill because we can. We kill because the game makes it satisfying.

    Hotline Miami is my personal game of the year.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      I..what now?

      I mean, I liked the game a lot and it is probably my favourite pc game of the year but it is a game where ‘You know that bit in Drive where the dude stomps the guys head in the elevator? Yeah. About 4-6 hours of that’ pretty much covers 90% of it. Let’s not give it too much credit for depth, even when it’s trying for it.

  21. Alphabet says:

    OK, I give in, I’ll buy it (it’s on the Steam sale for $7.49 now anyway.) But before I do – does it need a controller? Or can it be played well with keyboard and mouse? (If anyone can answer the same question for Dark Souls, I’d like to know that, too! Thanks all).

    • Isair says:

      Dark Souls has issues with the mouse controlling the camera, but can be played reasonably well with either just the keyboard or by installing a mod. I’d still recommend a controller though.

    • F3ck says:

      Imo…

      Dark Souls is beyond broken…it’s not just the worst port I’ve even seen – it’s the least comfortable, most counter intuitive, broken port I could imagine

      …and even with the controller (and btw, fuck controllers for anything but driving) and the mods it still looks and plays horribly…

      All the love that game gets…fucking masochists…

  22. qrter says:

    So.. Adam never saw his own willy until he was 13 or 14?

  23. I Got Pineapples says:

    I enjoyed this quite a bit.

    That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say there.

  24. mwoody says:

    I really wish they’d fix this damn game. The bugs are TERRIBLE. I mean, it’s been out for months, but still requires you to disable the spooler service on some operating systems!? Meanwhile, I can’t even get music due to an audio driver error, a widespread, longstanding, known issue that affects multiple sound cards.

    I understand they’re a small team, but a top-down 2d shooter isn’t exactly pushing the tech.

  25. PikaBot says:

    If you think this game requires twitch reflexes or luck: you are playing it incorrectly. You have not yet twigged to its core mechanics or strategy. Yes, twitch can save you when an enemy appears suddenly. Yes, luck can make things easier for you. But neither can take the place of navigational strategy.

    • Prime says:

      …Sony?

      …is that you? Only you could be so arrogant.

      • PikaBot says:

        I’m not even sure what sort of half-baked insult that’s supposed to be.

        • Prime says:

          Weren’t Sony the people who told journalists trying out the new Sixaxis controller that they were playing the games the wrong way, those seasoned journalists with decades of game-playing experience behind them?Arrogance of amazing proportions. People laughed then, and they’ll probably laugh now reading your first comment.

          “Navigational strategy”, my hairy, matted behind. I’ve been playing games heavily for over 30 years and I can assure you, young Master PikaBot, that this game requires both luck and twitch reflexes in addition to working out the sequence of targets to whack, in which precise moment. Let’s try not to so imperiously dismiss other people’s experience of the game, shall we?

          • PikaBot says:

            I wouldn’t remember that, but then again I suppose I’m not the sort to randomly refer to obscure events which occurred six years ago and were performed by a company known for many other, less obscure things, with no clarification, and expect my audience to understand my metaphor.

            And I’m sorry, but you simply don’t. Twitch or luck can save your life if you step imprudently – but all that’s saving is a meaningless life and about five seconds of progression. The lesson (‘don’t step there, you’ll get shot’) remains either way.

            And that is really what Hotline Miami is about. Through repeated and rapid iterations you learn about the logic of the level and what the optimal series of moves is. When you have your final plan firmly established, execution itself is almost trivial.

            If you are treating this as a game where twitch reflexes or luck dictate victory, it’s no wonder you find it frustrating. Every single gameplay mechanic cries out against either approach.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      I’m not “playing it wrong” if i give up after trying to plan due to the AI not being consistent.

  26. cairbre says:

    Hitman!!! Just kidding but I did pick it up in the Steam sale so I can see if really is that bad. After the reviews I was never going to fork out €50 for it (thats about 47 of your english pounds). Before the reviews it was going to be my Christmas Game.

    Surprise game of the year for me was sleeping dogs which I really like and I thought would be shite,

  27. junglist 69 says:

    Space Hulk GOTY for sure , oh wait!!!!

  28. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    I’m starting to doubt if the game I see in all those videos is even the same game people on the Internet write so many good words about.

  29. Dominic White says:

    Training wheels? That’s funny – I’ve been a PC gamer since the days of command lines and monochrome monitors.

    Y’know what’s funny? Back in the early 90s, a lot of PC games came bundled with gamepads because they were so strongly recommended by deveopers like iD and Apogee.

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