Adventures of a Non-Gamer: Hotline Miami


by Shawnie Kelly (@DearShawnie)

“I’m here to tell you how to kill people.” Someone just said this to me. No, I was not recently recruited for CIA, but that would be pretty cool. Holler at me, government. I feel like I’d be good at gathering intel, if by intel you mean my hair dresser’s gossip. This may seem insignificant, but the effects of a disastrous love life can be harmful and dangerous to society. I’m just saying I could monitor these types of scary situations.

Anyway, the person who was teaching me how to kill was not an awesome undercover officer. It was a gross old man with a crusty beard, and he wasn’t even real. He was a character in none other than Hotline Miami. I mean…. this game. It all started when my brother offered a suggestion for which game to cover in my next column. Innocent enough, until I realized he was playing a very cruel trick on me. So cruel, in fact, that I’m not sure can ever trust him again. This is weirdest game I’ve ever played. Hotline Miami in a nutshell: running around in a rooster mask in the eighties killing people with a metal pipe.

First of all, the man teaching you how to kill people is super bitter and angry about something. I don’t know who hurt him in life, but he says things to you like “Did that get through your thick skull?! Did it?” Homeboy needs to simmer down. Doesn’t he know the most effective teachers are patient and creative, catering to individual needs of their students? I’m just saying his approach is a little harsh, and maybe I would be a better metal pipe-wielder if my instructor were less drill sergeant and more Mr. Miyagi.

My panic didn’t officially set in until mean old man was all “left-click to punch, space bar to finish, right-click to grab, scroll to lock your target…” Whoa, this is a lot of information, grandpa. Can I get a cheat sheet with these codes on it? Okay, I guess these are less codes and more simple directions. But, they are a lot of directions for someone who’s first PC gaming experience was SimCity where the only real moment of intensity was deciding whether or not to make the city streets straight or curvy. Needless to say, this brief little tutorial did not prepare me at all for the experience I was about to have.

Just know that it will take a few tries to acclimate yourself to this game, even if you’re an expert. I feel like there are no lights on for a good portion of the time, or maybe that was just my general disorientation that made it feel so dark. No, guys. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m pretty sure there are no lights on. Anyway, the perspective is interesting because you’re looking at everything from above — a bird’s eye view, if you will. Speaking of birds, did I mention the rooster mask? Yes, you get to unlock masks after every chapter. There is a pig, an owl, and some other farm animals that I can’t recall at this moment in time. I just did not understand anything that was happening or why it was happening, but I will say that it was entertaining. The graphics are 1980s-esque and it kind of reminded me of Pac-man; the bloody, horror-ish version of Pac-man. So, really not like Pac-man at all I guess. I’m just trying to bring some context to this odd Hotline Miami encounter. THERE IS NO CONTEXT.

Have any of you ever played this game? If so, did you like it? I am exhausted emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally… really all of the different ways you can be exhausted, trying to figure out if I liked it or not. Maybe I should talk to my gamer therapist about this. I have one of those now. She’s super sweet and says things like, “Tell me how you feel when you run out of ammo.” Running out of ammo is my latest phobia, you guys. Like, just in life. I don’t even have ammo or weapons of any kind, but I’m just afraid of running out.

Happy gaming, you gamers!

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