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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-09-11 05:14:40
We blew our feminist horn on Monday, criticizing juvenile and degrading depictions of women in video games. I'm going to shift perspective today, and say that there are worse things than rape...like thumbs being forced deeply into your eye sockets, for example.
I'm not recanting my position, mind you. Sexual objectification of women -particularly in the context of sexual assault- is a serious societal problem, and should be treated with all seriousness. But Hotline Miami is a disturbing game, and if its general subject matter and presentation passes without censure, a staged non-rape rape scene is even less deserving of condemnation. (If you take the position that ultra-violence and sexual exploitation are BOTH problematic, I wouldn't necessarily disagree.)
I personally feel Hotline Miami is significantly overrated. The controls are finicky, and the gameplay is repetitive. It's the superlative soundtrack and drug-fueled paranoid oppressiveness that are the strengths of the game. The narrative is locked behind the aforementioned controls and gameplay, but it is an intriguing mindfuck once accessed.
I have mixed feelings about the whole experience. Hotline Miami reminded me of Manhunt, which did have a few extremely fine qualities, but turned my stomach with its subject matter and presentation. In both cases, I do have to respect (if not appreciate) the attempt of a genuine artistic endeavor. Unlike Metal Gear V's lazy pandering, there's effort here. Whether or not it's any good is a different matter, but Hotline Miami's creators should have the courage to exercise their creative rights with their sequel.
Throwback platforming fans should check out Software Slump's writeup of Puppeteer.