//Hotline Miami// is a game of choices.\n\nPlayers who have experienced the great branching narratives of of RPGs and interactive fiction may find this statement strange. //Hotline Miami// is almost entirely [[linear|struct1]]. It has no sidequests, no hidden levels, and no alternative paths. The end emerges inexorably from a single chain leading back to the [[beginning|sub1]].\n\nChoices nonetheless abound in //Hotline Miami//'s blood-spattered levels. The player starts each combat zone by selecting a mask that will offer bonuses or handicaps. His route and actions within the level will reflect strategic choices - plans, prioritization, and timing. [[Jacket]] can pick up any weapon in a level, and these options call on the player to consider their noisiness, ammo, damage, and reach. The variability introduced by wandering [[enemies|sexism1]] and different weapon selections transforms each level into a kind of murder jazz, an exhilarating layer of [[improvisation|oppo1]] wrapped around a thin core of a [[plan|choices2]].
The significance of the tactical options becomes obvious once one begins playing [[Biker]]'s levels. In his first appearance, Biker complains that he's bored, rather than excited, by the killing he's been doing. The player instinctively understands this because Biker's levels //are// boring. Biker never chooses masks, instead always wearing his helmet. Biker never picks up new weapons, but constantly uses the same cleaver and throwing knives. //Biker// has chosen the terms of engagement, and his approach makes his levels feel as [[restrictive and uninteresting|ludo1]] for the player [[as they are for him|choices3]].
The narrative of choice complements the gameplay. The player makes important decisions for Jacket in the combat zones, and outside of them the character is [[passive|oppo3]]. The telephone voices - and even the Bearded Man - tell him what to do, although the player can opt to skip the retail episodes or refuse the Bearded Man's largesse. Until "Deadline", Jacket's only proactive choice is to retrieve [[the Woman|sexism2]] from "[[Decadence]]". Jacket's decision to seek revenge after "Deadline" completely [[restructures|struct3]] the game and its implications. Once he takes control of his own life he becomes an [[(anti)heroic figure|sexism3]], rather than just a passive perpetrator of meaningless violence.\n\nBiker, on the other hand, directs himself. He, rather than the player, chooses what capabilities he will have in the level. In the story, he bucks the directives from the telephone and acts for himself. He is proactive and powerful.\n\nThis [[dichotomy|ludo3]] extends to the characters' subjective experiences. Biker finds the violence boring, and his gameplay restrictions make it boring. Yet, //he// is the one who has opted to wield a limited palette of weapons - that cleaver isn't glued to his hand. Biker is bored because [[he is opting|choices4]] to stick with the familiar. Jacket, meanwhile, chooses to live a fantasy in which he is heroic even in failure.
Even as Biker controls the gameplay, he cedes some responsibility to the player, who can make certain narrative choices in his chapters. This is most obvious in the final mission, in which the player can choose an ending. If he has found the tiles scattered through //Hotline Miami//'s levels, he can opt to enter a [[password|Vietnam]] into a computer for the game's "secret" ending. If he doesn't use the computer, either because he doesn't have the tiles or doesn't want to do it, he gets a "normal" ending that itself allows the player to choose dialog options. The player can opt to kill the [[Janitors]] after [[either ending|choices5]], or simply drive off into the sunset.
The finale only offers the player some possible motivations for what has already occurred. Biker's chapters also offer the player a more significant choice, in that he can decide what the game's plot means. In "Prank Call", Biker goes to the PhoneHom offices, where the inhabitants of the level, rather than attacking, try to back away from him. The player can opt to slaughter everyone, which is consistent with what Jacket saw of this area in "Neighbors". Alternatively, Biker can just walk through the level peacefully, hurting nobody until he reaches the main office, where he must kill an executive and Jacket.\n\nThis doesn't just give the player the chance to determine the extent of Biker's (and by extension, the Janitors') crimes. The choice to pass through the bulk of PhoneHom nonviolently gives the player the opportunity to reject the game's apparent narrative. Now Biker and Jacket, rather than [[subjectively experiencing|sub3]] different outcomes of a single moment, have encountered entirely different realities within PhoneHom. By leaving the workers alive, the player indirectly chooses to make Jacket's story [[real|choices6]], or at least as real as Biker's.
The final choice in //Hotline Miami// is what to make of its convoluted and contradictory storyline. Perhaps it's a grand argument linking violence to masculinity. Maybe it's a statement against the constant bloodshed that characterizes the commercial elite of AAA games. Perhaps it's intended to encourage people [[not to blindly obey worldly authority|http://theologygaming.com/hotline-miami-and-sandy-hook/]]. It could be a critique of the value of narrative in games. Or, perhaps, it's just a tightly designed game of bloody combat that doesn't really mean anything.\n\nDo you believe that Jacket fell in love with the Woman, lost her, and found solace in revenge? Do you believe he died at PhoneHom and experienced that story as a dying fantasy? Do you believe the Janitors created the murder ring out of boredom? Do you believe they did it to undermine the Russo-American alliance? Did they do it at the behest of a mob boss? Why not everything and all at once?\n\n//Hotline Miami// happily asks [[questions]], but does not explicitly answer them. I have presented a variety of readings here, but I won't claim that any of them are definitive. They reflect my desires and biases, as Jacket's and Biker's experiences reflect theirs, as your own interests have shaped your experience of this essay. Our realities are chosen.
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Although the aesthetic of //Hotline Miami// suggests a relationship to top-down shooters, the combat system has formal similarities to //Condemned: Criminal Origins//. In both games, every gun has a single reserve of ammunition. If the enemy that is wielding a gun exhausts the magazine, then it will have no bullets and can only be used as a blunt attack weapon. In addition, a gun's magazine can't be reloaded. In both games, however, a gunshot is almost invariably fatal, both to the protagonist and to his enemies. This produces an interesting set of trade-offs for the player to consider when weighing a melee weapon (almost none of which break) against a gun.\n\n//Hotline Miami// inherits //Condemned//'s melee focus, but adds two key innovations to encourage players to continually exchange melee weapons. The "Flexibility" component of the scoring page gives the player additional points if he swaps weapons frequently during the level. In addition, the ability to knock down (or, with a particular mask, kill) enemies by throwing weapons at them gives the player a tactical incentive to give up his weapon. The fact that weapons are plentiful and wonderfully varied helps //Hotline Miami// feel improvisational where //Condemned// feels desperate, though the former is easily the more difficult game.\n\n<<back>>
v1.0
April 3rd, 1989\n\nA man receives a message on his answering machine. He goes [[where he is told|choices1]], puts on a mask, and kills.
Who can say what actually happens in //Hotline Miami//? The game starts with a tutorial in a group of rooms that has no exit (an impossible space) and immediately rolls into a hallucination where its [[main character|Jacket]] is berated, apparently by different versions of himself. Right off the bat, the game establishes that it is not to be taken at face value.\n\nThe aesthetics of the combat levels support this impression. The background of each level is a strobing multicolored field. All of the levels tilt and sway around the protagonist, a significant contrast to the steady, "objective" way that games typically portray their field of play. The subjectivity of the experience becomes even more obvious in "Trauma", where the swaying of the level interferes with the player's control, and along with the static that appears on the screen, [[communicates|sub2]] Jacket's feebleness.
To ensure that the player doesn't drop easily into a relaxed state, //Hotline Miami// takes steps right from the beginning to keep the end-level moments from feeling safe. In the prologue "Metro", for instance, the player is told that the chapter is complete after Jacket retrieves the briefcase on the second floor. When he goes downstairs, however, a train arrives carrying two more mobsters. After these are defeated, Jacket goes to an anonymous alleyway to drop off the case, where he is attacked //yet again// before the level finally ends for true.\n\n//Hotline Miami// further reinforces the danger of post-level moments with unannounced boss fights in "Decadence" and "Deadline". These deceptions, another expression of system-dominant design, keep the player paranoid and observant even when the enemies in a level have apparently been depleted.\n\n<<back>>
The world of //Hotline Miami// is populated almost entirely by men. With one exception (an opponent in Jacket's final boss fight), men are the sole perpetrators //and victims// of violence. In a wonderful essay, Maddy Myers has connected this staging to a common patriarchal narrative of [[masculinity as power and violence|http://blog.thephoenix.com/BLOGS/laserorgy/archive/2012/12/17/hotline-miami-and-america-s-narrative-of-masculinity-and-violence.aspx]], to which I have little to add. However, the subjectivity of //Hotline Miami//'s narrative complicates any interpretation like this.\n\nThe male-slanted cast makes the game's treatment of its lone major female character seem more significant than it perhaps should. Viewed through the lens of [[Jacket]]'s life (and no other perspective is available) their relationship, such as it is, bears certain resemblance to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. Once [[the Woman appears|Decadence]] in the story, Jacket's life seems to start getting back in order.\n\nWhat's troubling about this trope is that it creates female characters who exist for the sole purpose of "fixing" men. Some critics, such as [[Alec Meer|http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/10/23/hotline-miami-review/]], saw the game as telling just such a story, although the game's references to //[[Drive]]// may have colored their perceptions. This doesn't necessarily mean that //Hotline Miami// implies that the Woman has started to take care of the cleaning for Jacket. Even if she inspires him to freshen up the apartment himself, though, the sexist characteristics of this trope are showing through, especially since she has so few other defining characteristics.\n\nI am dubious of this interpretation, even if one takes //Hotline Miami// at face value. The one characteristic the Woman //does// have is that her life is almost as screwed up as Jacket's. She spends most of her first few appearances detoxing in Jacket's bathroom or on his couch, as he's trying to get his life in some sort of order. This suggests a more equal relationship than is typical for the manic pixie archetype. Moreover, the Woman //doesn't// fix Jacket's life. The fact that someone has vacuumed the floor doesn't stop him from listening to the phone messages and hopping into the DeLorean for another killing spree.\n\nOne //shouldn't// take //Hotline Miami// at face value, however. It's interesting to note the timing of the changes to Jacket's apartment. When he leaves for his mission in "Neighbors", the Woman is sitting on the couch, where she's obviously still sleeping. The only improvement to his apartment is that the dishes have been moved to the sink. Jacket //never comes back// from "Neighbors", though - the game strongly suggests that he dies at PhoneHom.\n\nAll the real improvements to the apartment, the suggested intimacy of the beds being pushed together, even the attachment implied by the quest for vengeance, exist only in Jacket's dying hallucination. The story touches that give the Woman the appearance of a manic pixie dream girl, then, seem to be part of Jacket's fantasy, rather than the game's "reality". She "fixes his life" because thats what he //hopes// she will do.\n\nThe game gives some contextual support to this idea in Jacket's visit to the convenience store at the end of "Metro". The Bearded Man mentions that he hadn't seen Jacket around after a recent breakup. This suggests that Jacket's filthy apartment to some degree reflects self-neglect after a depressing event. His involvement with "50 Blessings" may also be a result of bad decisions made at an emotionally vulnerable moment. The fantasized relationship with the Woman, then, reflects Jacket's wishes for someone to come along and repair the damage he's done to himself.\n\nThat the player can never interact with the Woman between the moment she is rescued and the moment she dies only makes this all the more apparent. The player's experience is entirely mediated by Jacket's consciousness. In his mind, the Woman does not exist as an object of conversation; she exists only as a means to fix his life. //Hotline Miami//'s apparent sexism is really just a manifestation of Jacket's self-absorption.\n\nIf the relationship between Jacket and the Woman really is just a hallucination, then his failure to protect her and subsequent quest for revenge reads like a defense mechanism. The relationship ends, but in a way that is safe for Jacket's ego. The Woman does not leave him because of his inadequacies, but rather is taken by forces beyond his control. Jacket then reasserts his power over the system through a successful quest for revenge. This fantasy allows him to compensate for his emotional failures with his talent for mass murder. Jacket's internalization of the equivalence between masculinity and violence drives //Hotline Miami//'s climactic chapters to their bloody conclusion, and makes Myers' critique all the more relevant.\n\n<<back>>\n<<set $drv = 2>>
The chicken directly asks four questions in one of Jacket's hallucinations.\n\n"Do you like hurting other people?" - The chicken explicitly asks what the end-of-level survey has been implying all along. It would comfortable, and dishonest, to answer in the negative. //Hotline Miami// is //designed// to make you like hurting other people and then feel terrible that you did.\n\n"Who is leaving messages on your answering machine?" - The in-game answer is the Janitors. However, the Janitors are stand-ins for the developers, and the protagonists are avatars of the player. With this in mind, the real question is: why are you killing these virtual people? The real answer is: because the developers tell you to.\n\n"Where are you right now?" - Jacket is inside his own mind. This question draws attention to Jacket's unreliability as a narrator and foreshadows the eventual reveal in "Prank Call".\n\n"Why are we having this conversation?" - Because somebody wanted you to pay attention to these questions - probably the same people leaving messages on your answering machine.\n\n<<back>>
Does //Hotline Miami// disapprove of violence in all its phases? In outlining his thesis that the game is a critique of narratology, Chris Franklin [[correctly points out|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AixOBp15KdI]] that the game's incentives lie on the side of achieving the most grotesque bloodshed possible. At a minimum, advancing the story requires clearing out a level. If a player wants to achieve a high score, he must use melee attacks, perform brutal executions, and kill many enemies very quickly for a combo score. This seems to put //Hotline Miami// in the [[contradictory position|http://clicknothing.typepad.com/click_nothing/2007/10/ludonarrative-d.html]] of both insisting that the player be as brutal as he can, and criticizing him for doing that.\n\nYet //Hotline Miami// doesn't actually put a premium on ultraviolence. True, getting through the game requires a lot of bloodshed, but the player agreed to that at the purchase point. The promotional images on Steam and GoG.com are full of dead, bloody bodies, and the promotional poster features a dismembered mobster in the foreground. The first words of the tutorial are, "I'm here to tell you how to kill people." Nobody can realistically claim they don't know what they're getting into: this is a game about killing in the most horrible ways possible.\n\nThe skull-crushing executions and bloody combos are completely optional, though. The par scores for most levels can be achieved almost trivially, and they don't gate progress. Reaching the target score unlocks a new mask, but many useful masks can simply be picked up in the levels themselves, without any need to play particularly well. Weapons get unlocked based on the //cumulative// score, so even bad players will gain access to new guns and tools eventually. The player can literally do everything wrong in terms of maximizing his score, and still get through the game.\n\nPaying attention to the score is a //completely// voluntary act. Many players will do it, because //Hotline Miami// is a game, games have points, and when points exist, players like to get the most points. Yes, //Hotline Miami// puts the incentives on the side of brutality, but that's not a strike against it because we, the players, //chose// to value those incentives, and we chose a system that used them.\n\nRami Ismail points out that the kind of critique that //Hotline Miami// is trying to make can only work [[if the player controls the violence|http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RamiIsmail/20121029/180408/Why_Hotline_Miami_is_an_important_game.php]], and the game gives players several chances to bail - the purchase choice, the tactical choices in each level, and even in some instances the narrative choice of whether to play at all. Giant Bomb user Deadmoscow acknowledges that those decisions, given the audience, will likely play out in [[only one way|http://www.giantbomb.com/hotline-miami/61-39452/hotline-miami-is-the-most-important-game-of-2012/35-565818/]]. "//Hotline Miami// is a game about player mentality. You can leave the final level without killing the last two enemies, and in one mission you can go through an entire building full of people without killing a single one, but most of us will kill them all anyways. It's because we enjoy hurting other people."\n\n<<back>>
If the relationship between Jacket and the Woman really is just a hallucination, then his failure to protect her and subsequent quest for revenge reads like a defense mechanism. The relationship ends, but in a way that is safe for Jacket's ego. The Woman does not leave him because of his inadequacies, but rather is taken by forces beyond his control. Jacket then [[reasserts his power|struct3]] over the system through a successful quest for revenge. This fantasy allows him to compensate for his emotional failures with his talent for mass murder. Jacket's internalization of the equivalence between masculinity and violence drives //Hotline Miami//'s climactic chapters to their bloody [[conclusion|choices6]].
//Hotline Miami// starts out with a complete separation between plot and play. With few exceptions, this rigid structure breaks down only when the protagonists decide to pursue violence for their own ends, rather than those of others. Until he decides to seek revenge for the Woman's death, the killings Jacket performs are not really part of his story, but somebody else's. His violence only becomes [[meaningful|choices6]] when he fights for himself.
The game's rigid pattern begins to break down in "[[Decadence]]". When Jacket decides to carry [[the Woman|sexism2]] out of the pornographer's villa, a plot event occurs during a combat level. This is only a minor change, and for a while it's isolated. However, in "Neighbors" Jacket gets a phone call just after clearing a combat area. Again, the plot intrudes on a part of the game that had previously been "pure" play. After this point the [[pattern weakens|struct3]] further. The Bearded Man stops giving Jacket free stuff during his visits, and then is replaced entirely by a man resembling the mobsters Jacket has been slaughtering.
//Hotline Miami//'s compartmentalized structure breaks down completely after "Deadline". When Jacket returns to the apartment, he gets shot, and game asks the player to "Press R to Restart", a message that was previously exclusive to combat zones. In the subsequent chapters, the combat action //advances the main plot//. The narrative of the game was previously isolated from its violence, but starting with "Trauma", Jacket's murder sprees [[serve the story|sub2]].\n\nNot coincidentally, this parallels a change in the nature of what Jacket is doing. Previously he was a passive combatant - killing because he was told to, for reasons he didn't understand. The violence was therefore [[separate|Drive]] and alienated from his "real life". Now, like the player, Jacket has adopted an [[active attitude|oppo3]] towards combat: he is engaging in violence for his own ends. He has taken control. Jacket's choice to seek revenge transforms combat from an isolated part of his life to an integral one.\n\nSimilarly [[Biker]]'s combat zones include plot points from the beginning, because the player first encounters him after he has [[decided to rebel|choices4]] against the telephone voices. His only plot-free combat area comes in "Fun & Games", the sole time he [[obeys|struct4]] the answering machine's message.<<set $drv = 1>>
//Hotline Miami// begins as a rigidly structured and compartmentalized game. Narrative, at this point primarily expressed through pamphlets and newspaper clippings, appears in the prologue to each chapter, where [[Jacket]] is in no danger and has little to do. Then Jacket goes to the location he received from his answering machine and kills everyone there. In this segment, the danger to Jacket [[focuses the player's attention|oppo1]] on the intricacy of gameplay. Once the level is complete, Jacket goes to some retail establishment and receives something for free from the Bearded Man, who is [[always|struct2]] working the counter.
<<set $drv = 0>>The male-slanted cast makes the game's treatment of its lone major female character seem more significant than it perhaps should. Viewed through the lens of [[Jacket]]'s life (and no other perspective is available) their relationship, such as it is, bears certain resemblance to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. Once [[the Woman appears|Decadence]] in the story, Jacket's life seems to start getting back in order.\n\nWhat's troubling about this trope is that it creates female characters who exist for the sole purpose of "fixing" men. Some critics, such as [[Alec Meer|http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/10/23/hotline-miami-review/]], saw the game as telling just such a story, although the game's references to //[[Drive]]// may have colored their perceptions. This doesn't necessarily mean that //Hotline Miami// implies that the Woman has started to take care of the cleaning for Jacket. Even if she inspires him to freshen up the apartment himself, though, the sexist characteristics of this trope are showing through, especially since she has so few other defining characteristics.\n\nI am dubious of this interpretation, even if one takes //Hotline Miami// at face value. The one characteristic the Woman //does// have is that her life is almost as screwed up as Jacket's. She spends most of her first few appearances detoxing in Jacket's bathroom or on his couch, as he's trying to get his life in some sort of order. This suggests a more equal relationship than is typical for the [[manic pixie|sexism3]] archetype. Moreover, the Woman //doesn't// fix Jacket's life. The fact that someone has vacuumed the floor doesn't stop him from listening to the phone messages and hopping into the DeLorean for another killing spree.
If we are to read //Hotline Miami// as an allegorical statement about games and their interpretation, then Jacket and Biker represent players with different kinds of priorities. As avatars, Jacket gives players access to a rich array of tactical options, while Biker complements his combat constraints with a paltry set of minor game-directing choices. As characters, Jacket obeys the directions of the game (go here, kill these people), while Biker seeks out the reason why these orders are being given. The protagonists can surely be seen as representatives of score-oriented and story-oriented players, respectively. It is less reasonable, however, to see //Hotline Miami// as favoring either of them.\n\nIf //Hotline Miami// had simply repeated the pattern of its first three chapters - if the Woman had not appeared, if the game's combat zones had not [[begun to incorporate plot|struct3]] - it would have been profoundly alienating and perhaps impossible to enjoy. Had it adopted Biker's pattern throughout - if it had purposely limited the player's arsenal and denied him tactical flexibility - it would have been a bore. //Hotline Miami// succeeds because it does not rely exclusively on either the mechanics or the plot to drive player engagement. It lets the player [[choose|choices6]] what will propel him.
''Biker enters the PhoneHom building.''\n\nJacket enters the PhoneHom building.\n\n''The employees back away from him in fear.''\n\nDead bodies are everywhere, hacked to pieces.\n\n''He kills the boss and hacks his computer, tracing the calls. A man in a mask and a varsity jacket interrupts him.''\n\nA dead executive and a Biker are in the office.\n\n''Biker cuts Jacket's head off and leaves.''\n\nJacket steals a golf club, bashes Biker's head in, and leaves.\n\n<<back>>
The Janitors are obvious stand-ins for the game's developers. They bear some resemblance to Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin in particular, but they also position themselves as designers within the fiction of the game itself. In the "normal" ending, the Janitors specifically assert that they have created a "game" in which Biker (and Jacket) are pawns. If Biker asks who they are working for, the Janitors state they are independent and did it all themselves, a fourth-wall cracking joke about //Hotline Miami//'s development. Their dialogue in the "secret" ending includes a statement about manipulating players' sense of consequence.\n\nIn the "normal" ending, if Biker presses them about the killings, they'll point out that //he//'s been doing the killing, and argue that he's done much worse things than they have. This is reminiscent of the accusatory tone that //Spec Ops: The Line// takes towards its players. [[Unlike that game|http://ludo.mwclarkson.com/2012/07/the-invisible-hands/]], however, Söderström and Wedin allow the player an opportunity to reject their argument in the most absolute terms, by doing to them what Biker and Jacket have done to almost everyone else in the game.\n\nEven more literally than Andrew Ryan and Frank Fontaine in //BioShock//, the Janitors represent an admission from the developers of their complicity in the system. Perhaps because these symbols are so personal, //Hotline Miami// allows players an option that //BioShock// does not. The Janitors, unlike Ryan and Fontaine, can be spared.\n\n<<back>>
One //shouldn't// take //Hotline Miami// at face value, however. It's interesting to note the timing of the changes to Jacket's apartment. When he leaves for his mission in "Neighbors", the Woman is sitting on the couch, where she's obviously still sleeping. The only improvement to his apartment is that the dishes have been moved to the sink. Jacket //never comes back// from "Neighbors", though - the game strongly suggests that he dies at PhoneHom.\n\nAll the real improvements to the apartment, the suggested intimacy of the beds being pushed together, even the attachment implied by the quest for vengeance, exist only in [[Jacket's dying hallucination|sub2]]. The story touches that give the Woman the appearance of a manic pixie dream girl, then, seem to be part of Jacket's fantasy, rather than the game's "reality". She "fixes his life" because thats what he //hopes// she will do.\n\nThe game gives some contextual support to this idea in Jacket's visit to the convenience store at the end of "Metro". The Bearded Man mentions that he hadn't seen Jacket around after a recent breakup. This suggests that Jacket's filthy apartment to some degree reflects self-neglect after a depressing event. His involvement with "50 Blessings" may also be a result of bad decisions made at an emotionally vulnerable moment. The fantasized relationship with the Woman, then, reflects Jacket's wishes for someone to come along and repair the damage he's done to himself.\n\nThat the player can never interact with the Woman between the moment she is rescued and the moment she dies only makes this all the more apparent. The player's experience is entirely mediated by Jacket's consciousness. In his mind, the Woman does not exist as an object of conversation; she exists only as a means to fix his life. //Hotline Miami//'s apparent sexism is really just a manifestation of Jacket's [[self-absorption|sexism4]].
The complementarity of the score- and story-oriented approaches extends to the game's two endings. Score-oriented players who have neglected the story and not bothered with the tiles can easily get the "standard" ending, which includes, as Chris Franklin mentions, a number of phrases obliquely disparaging the idea of playing for narrative. In this ending the Janitors imply that the purpose of the game is just to have fun. Notably, this version of the final chapter is "playable" in that one can select what questions Biker asks the Janitors. In contrast, the "secret" ending, which requires players to search levels for tiles and solve a puzzle, is completely linear.\n\nFranklin also believes this alternative ending, with its inane [[explanation]] about fighting a Russo-American Coalition, is meant to stick a thumb in the eye of story-oriented players. This statement is a little harder to justify because the revelation does not come out of left field. A narrative-oriented player will likely have noticed the "50 Blessings" propaganda at Jacket's and Biker's homes, and will recall that the Janitors themselves monitored Jacket's progress in "[[Clean Hit]]", an attack on coalition-supporting diplomats. Bringing these details into a coherent picture, even if it's somewhat silly, //does// [[reward the story-oriented player|storytime]] with a feeling of discovery and a sense of understanding.\n\nMoreover, in this ending one Janitor says, "All you gotta do to get people to do what you want them to is to make them think there'll be consequences if they don't." This statement echoes critiques of MMORPGs and casual games that construct systems of incentives for no other reason than to monopolize player time. Scores and grades for levels are just invented and arbitrary measures of success, with no intrinsic value. In this regard it's important to note that //Hotline Miami//'s "secret" ending is atypical in that //it does not have a score requirement//. All it asks the player to do is look carefully at the levels and solve a very easy word puzzle.\n\nFranklin may be right that the "normal" ending ridicules players who approach a game with anything other than fun in mind, but he misses that the "secret" ending equally ridicules players who buy in to the game's system of [[score-based incentives|approval]]. If you come to the ending hoping for //Hotline Miami// to tell you whether its narrative or gameplay was more important, it gives you [[the answer you seem to want|ludo3]].
This is a subtle difference, and perhaps not particularly important. One could argue that glitzy locations have appeared throughout, and Jacket has infiltrated nice villas and mansions before "Neighbors". More to the point, "[[Clean Hit]]" conspicuously adopts action-movie aesthetic by asking Jacket to kill diplomats in a gun-oriented level. In a more general sense, the game's aesthetic refers to other explosively violent works set in its home city. //Hotline Miami//'s white-suited thugs [[intentionally|http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-11-10-the-creators-of-hotline-miami-on-inspiration-storytelling-and-upcoming-dlc]] evoke memories of //Miami Vice//, while its garish interiors recall 1983's //Scarface//.\n\nSimilarly, one could argue that some of the post-"Neighbors" levels aren't all that action-movie oriented. "Deadline", for instance, is set in an office building. However, //[[Die Hard|http://www.gameranx.com/features/id/10111/article/it-s-die-hard-in-a-videogame/]]// came out in 1988, the year before the events of the game. At the end of that level, too, Jacket confronts a group of mobsters who pour out of a black van, //a la The A-Team//. Even the most mundane post-"Neighbors" location has multiple connections to action cinema and television.\n\nThe glamour-free excursions to anonymous apartment blocks end after the PhoneHom confrontation, replaced by mansions and nightclubs and a police-station attack - remember, //The Terminator// was released in 1984. While the action-movie aesthetic is present in the earlier chapters of //Hotline Miami//, it becomes pervasive after "Neighbors", subtly adding a feeling of unreality to the events.\n\n<<back>>
Do the contrasts between Jacket's and Biker's levels argue for a mechanics-oriented videogame aesthetics? [[Chris Franklin|http://www.errantsignal.com/blog/]] promotes this interpretation in his interesting [[reading of the game|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AixOBp15KdI]]. He posits that the shift in the structure of //Hotline Miami//, from narrative-free loops, to plot-integrated gameplay, to story-driven chapters is meant to illustrate the superfluity, or at least subordinate status, of plot in relation to play. It's a fascinating take, well worth attending to, that I think has some serious problems.\n\nFranklin makes the interesting observation that //Hotline Miami// puts all the incentives on the side of performing violence, and in fact, of performing violence in specific ways. Players get more points for killing quickly, using a variety of weapons, and especially for performing brutal "executions". Good scores earn the player new weapons and masks, and contribute to a letter grade the player receives for each level. This makes the score system a closed loop, however - playing the game "well" gives the player more tools for playing the game.\n\nThis doesn't exhaust the list of incentives. From the beginning, //Hotline Miami// confronts the player with an almost ostentatiously weird scenario, one that is bound to inspire curiosity. The desire to see what happens next, or to get an explanation for the mysterious events occurring in the game, also constitutes an incentive driving the player to complete the levels, and hence to perform violence.\n\nTrue, simply achieving the goal of advancing the narrative doesn't give the player a high score or unlock any new weapons or masks. Does any of that matter to a narrative-oriented player? A person who is primarily interested in seeing what happens next will likely just click through the score page, in //exactly// the same way as a player who does not care for the story will simply click through the game's dialogue.\n\nWhat //Hotline Miami// really does here is provide complementarity. Players who come into its levels seeking mastery receive scores and a grade telling them how well they've done, and receive gameplay rewards. Players who go into combat seeking to examine the world and unravel its mysteries are rewarded with progress. They don't even have to do particularly well in the levels - score targets are low and need not be met in order to continue the story.\n\nThe complementarity of the score- and story-oriented approaches extends to the game's two endings. Score-oriented players who have neglected the story and not bothered with the tiles can easily get the "standard" ending, which includes, as Chris Franklin mentions, a number of phrases obliquely disparaging the idea of playing for narrative. In this ending the Janitors imply that the purpose of the game is just to have fun. Notably, this version of the final chapter is "playable" in that one can select what questions Biker asks the Janitors. In contrast, the "secret" ending, which requires players to search levels for tiles and solve a puzzle, is completely linear.\n\nFranklin also believes this alternative ending, with its inane [[explanation]] about fighting a Russo-American Coalition, is meant to stick a thumb in the eye of story-oriented players. This statement is a little harder to justify because the revelation does not come out of left field. A narrative-oriented player will likely have noticed the "50 Blessings" propaganda at Jacket's and Biker's homes, and will recall that the Janitors themselves monitored Jacket's progress in "[[Clean Hit]]", an attack on coalition-supporting diplomats. Bringing these details into a coherent picture, even if it's somewhat silly, //does// [[reward the story-oriented player|storytime]] with a feeling of discovery and a sense of understanding.\n\nMoreover, in this ending one Janitor says, "All you gotta do to get people to do what you want them to is to make them think there'll be consequences if they don't." This statement echoes critiques of MMORPGs and casual games that construct systems of incentives for no other reason than to monopolize player time. Scores and grades for levels are just invented and arbitrary measures of success, with no intrinsic value. In this regard it's important to note that //Hotline Miami//'s "secret" ending is atypical in that //it does not have a score requirement//. All it asks the player to do is look carefully at the levels and solve a very easy word puzzle.\n\nFranklin may be right that the "normal" ending ridicules players who approach a game with anything other than fun in mind, but he misses that the "secret" ending equally ridicules players who buy in to the game's system of [[score-based incentives|approval]]. If you come to the ending hoping for //Hotline Miami// to tell you whether its narrative or gameplay was more important, it gives you the answer you seem to want.\n\nIf we are to read //Hotline Miami// as an allegorical statement about games and their interpretation, then Jacket and Biker represent players with different kinds of priorities. As avatars, Jacket gives players access to a rich array of tactical options, while Biker complements his combat constraints with a paltry set of minor game-directing choices. As characters, Jacket obeys the directions of the game (go here, kill these people), while Biker seeks out the reason why these orders are being given. The protagonists can surely be seen as representatives of score-oriented and story-oriented players, respectively. It is less reasonable, however, to see //Hotline Miami// as favoring either of them.\n\nIf //Hotline Miami// had simply repeated the pattern of its first three chapters - if the Woman had not appeared, if the game's combat zones had not begun to incorporate plot - it would have been profoundly alienating and perhaps impossible to enjoy. Had it adopted Biker's pattern throughout - if it had purposely limited the player's arsenal and denied him tactical flexibility - it would have been a bore. //Hotline Miami// succeeds because it does not rely exclusively on either the mechanics or the plot to drive player engagement. It lets the player choose what will propel him.\n\n<<back>>
//Hotline Miami// challenges the player constantly. I don't merely mean that the game is hard, although it //is// unrelentingly difficult. "All the time" also encompasses the moments where the player isn't running around a crummy apartment bashing skulls in with a baseball bat. From almost its first moment to its last, //Hotline Miami// attacks the player through both its gameplay and its narrative.\n\n//Hotline Miami// is an excellent example of a system-dominant combat design. This doesn't translate exactly into difficulty, and in fact some of the early levels in the game are quite easy. However, the player has few advantages, and must work to overcome numerous disadvantages. His success depends on his ability to respond to, rather than control, the system.\n\nThe player-character is frail. Unlike the protagonists of modern shooters, he can take no more damage than any of the enemies he is fighting, and in some cases can take a good deal less. He is badly outnumbered, and while the opposing force may be spread across several rooms, many of them will not stay in place. Many attempts end promptly when a shotgun-equipped mobster opens a door at an inopportune moment. Stealing the guns is not as much help [[as one might expect|Condemned]]. Guns have limited ammunition, and discharging one will frequently bring half the level running straight towards the protagonist.\n\nAs this last point implies, the enemy AI is bone stupid. While this has certain advantages (//i.e.// mobsters will not come looking for [[Jacket]] if they see a dead body), it also limits the player's ability to manipulate his enemies. However, that AI can still be exploited, and when it succeeds in taking the player down, the penalty is minimal. //Hotline Miami//'s major concession to the player is that he can restart the level instantly, although he can't switch masks.\n\nRestarting or starting, the protagonist enters each level unarmed, so the player must quickly develop a plan of attack that will allow him to take down each area's army of foes. This plan will not last long, thanks to the random motions of many of the patrolling mobsters. The player, frail, outnumbered, and outclassed, will be forced to constantly reassess and adjust his plans in order to succeed.\n\nWhen the player clears the level, //Hotline Miami// continues to attack him by other means. In most games, including contemporary shooters, the bodies of the enemy disappear. Either they simply fade from view, or they are swept behind by the inexorable advance of a linear level. Not so in //Hotline Miami//, where the protagonist must walk back out of each level past all the bodies of the men he has slain. This forced survey of human destruction rebukes the player for the very act of playing the game. The game's aesthetics of death [[unsettle the player|violence]] without preaching that violence is wrong.\n\nOf course, //Hotline Miami// is not the first game to do this, not even in 2012. //Spec Ops: The Line// was [[celebrated|http://stolenprojects.com/]] for a similar statement. There is an instructive difference between these games, however. //Spec Ops// tied its message to ultra-conventional third-person cover shooting. Players experienced in the genre - and such players were the ostensible audience for //Spec Ops//' message - could pass through it almost by rote. Andrew Vanden Bossche described himself as playing that game with "[[the bare minimum of engagement|http://www.mammon-machine.com/post/38573876084/its-the-third-episode-of-evangelion-and-shinji]]". He took this approach because of his negative response to the game's message, but //Spec Ops//' mechanics //enabled// him to do so.\n\n//Hotline Miami//'s system-dominant design prevents the player from adopting a passive attitude during combat. The player must engage with the game all the time, or he will never get through its combat zones. He must constantly be analyzing the level, thinking about everything he is seeing in it. Success demands alertness. As [[Rob Parker describes it|http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/kill-to-progress/]], the systems of Hotline Miami require the player to function at the edge of his capacity for an extended time, producing "an exhausting state of 'flow'".\n\nThe aesthetics and mechanics help maintain this state. The garish, strobing background shepherds the eye away from the edge of the screen. The thumping, fast-paced music keeps the player excited. The instantaneous restart means that death doesn't pause the action. Each death leads seamlessly to the next life, without relief, until the player succeeds.\n\nThe end of the level comes as a shock. The heart-pumping music drops out, and the attentional demands cease. The brain, however, can't stop as quickly as a computer can, so the player's nervous, hyper-alert state "[[runs over]]" the end of combat. Like Giant Bomb user [[Deadmoscow|http://www.giantbomb.com/hotline-miami/61-39452/hotline-miami-is-the-most-important-game-of-2012/35-565818/]], the player is left with "a giddy, nervous feeling... my hands had gone clammy and my heartbeat felt a little too fast." The player remains as attentive as before, but there is nothing to focus on except the piles of dead bodies he's created.\n\n//Hotline Miami// uses its system-dominant gameplay to push the player into a anxious and alert state, then forces the player to survey a level full of bloody bodies. The walk back to the car doesn't just offer an opportunity for reflection on the gruesome deeds of the preceding 2-20 minutes; it associates what the player sees in that pause with anxiety and negative emotions as a consequence of the design.\n\n//Hotline Miami// backs up its subtle manipulations with explicit elements of its narrative. The game doesn't greet violence with [[approval]]. In the hallucination that starts the story, the horse accuses Jacket of having done terrible things, and the owl expresses his hatred for the protagonist. In a later vision, the chicken asks Jacket (and the player) "[[Do you like hurting other people?|questions]]". As Jacket's mental state degrades, he begins to see apparitions of dead bodies everywhere. Despite their half-destroyed state, these grim visions greet Jacket with obscenities.\n\nIn the game's conclusion, the [[Janitors]] take a similarly combative role. They accuse [[Biker]] of atrocities and deflect the blame for all the murders onto him. When asked if they have any last words, they shout "Fuck you!".\n\n//Hotline Miami// aggressively confronts the player in every way that it can. Its system-dominant gameplay places heavy demands on the player's ability to plan, adapt, and execute. These demands push the player into an anxious state that lingers into the post-combat survey of the dead, creating a sense of disquiet and guilt. If the player attempts to strike back against the system, as in the final chapter, the developers' avatars scream obscenities at him. //Hotline Miami// hates the player, and argues that the player deserves it.\n\n<<back>>
Reality is Chosen v1.0
Super Thanks to [[Chris Klimas|http://gimcrackd.com]] and everyone who works on Twine.\n\nThanks also to [[Porpentine|http://aliendovecote.com/]], from and [[Anna Anthropy|http://www.auntiepixelante.com/]] for their Twine resources.
//Hotline Miami// begins as a rigidly structured and compartmentalized game. Narrative, at this point primarily expressed through pamphlets and newspaper clippings, appears in the prologue to each chapter, where [[Jacket]] is in no danger and has little to do. Then Jacket goes to the location he received from his answering machine and kills everyone there. In this segment, the danger to Jacket focuses the player's attention on the intricacy of gameplay. Once the level is complete, Jacket goes to some retail establishment and receives something for free from the Bearded Man, who is always working the counter.\n\nThe game's rigid pattern begins to break down in "[[Decadence]]". When Jacket decides to carry the Woman out of the pornographer's villa, a plot event occurs during a combat level. This is only a minor change, and for a while it's isolated. However, in "Neighbors" Jacket gets a phone call just after clearing a combat area. Again, the plot intrudes on a part of the game that had previously been "pure" play. After this point the pattern weakens further. The Bearded Man stops giving Jacket free stuff during his visits, and then is replaced entirely by a man resembling the mobsters Jacket has been slaughtering.\n\n//Hotline Miami//'s compartmentalized structure breaks down completely after "Deadline". When Jacket returns to the apartment, he gets shot, and game asks the player to "Press R to Restart", a message that was previously exclusive to combat zones. In the subsequent chapters, the combat action //advances the main plot//. The narrative of the game was previously isolated from its violence, but starting with "Trauma", Jacket's murder sprees serve the story.\n\nNot coincidentally, this parallels a change in the nature of what Jacket is doing. Previously he was a passive combatant - killing because he was told to, for reasons he didn't understand. The violence was therefore [[separate|Drive]] and alienated from his "real life". Now, like the player, Jacket has adopted an active attitude towards combat: he is engaging in violence for his own ends. He has taken control. Jacket's choice to seek revenge transforms combat from an isolated part of his life to an integral one.\n\nSimilarly [[Biker]]'s combat zones include plot points from the beginning, because the player first encounters him after he has decided to rebel against the telephone voices. His only plot-free combat area comes in "Fun & Games", the sole time he obeys the answering machine's message.\n\n//Hotline Miami// starts out with a complete separation between plot and play. With few exceptions, this rigid structure breaks down only when the protagonists decide to pursue violence for their own ends, rather than those of others. Until he decides to seek revenge for the Woman's death, the killings Jacket performs are not really part of his story, but somebody else's. His violence only becomes meaningful when he fights for himself.\n\n<<back>>\n<<set $drv = 2>>
"Reality is Chosen" is, obviously, something of an experiment. I hope it's successful, or at least that in failure it teaches an interesting lesson. I put the essay together this way in order to capture some of the ideas about choice and subjectivity I am writing about, and also in part to draw attention to the way we often read, attending only to the elements of a work that specifically interest us. For those who wish to read in a more traditional format, I have arranged the major ideas into single essays you can read from the [[Conventional Format]] page.
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By "Trauma", of course, Jacket has been living inside his own head for some time. [[Biker]]'s version of the confrontation at [[PhoneHom]] indicates that Jacket's story after "Neighbors" is a dying dream in the vein of "[[An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge|http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/375]]". The whole game from this point appears to be an invention of Jacket's mind.\n\nThe game does much to support this interpretation. In the coda to "Push It", the mission immediately after "Neighbors", the Bearded Man tells Jacket explicitly that none of what he's seeing is actually happening. Jacket begins to see vivid hallucinations of his victims outside of the combat zones, some of which [[angrily accost him|oppo4]]. After he and the Woman [[get shot|sexism4]] following "Deadline", he imagines tearing his own head apart, and the resulting wound resembles the one he receives in Biker's mission "Prank Call".\n\nMore subtly, the locations and plot become more typical of action movies after this point. For the most part, Jacket infiltrates [[glitzier places]], including nightclubs and a high-end spa. In Jacket's version of the story, the orchestrator of the phone calls turns out to be the head of the Russian mafia, rather than the more [[deflating discovery|Janitors]] Biker eventually makes. These touches, conforming a previously alienating and weird storyline to more conventional action tropes, suggest a [[fundamental shift|sub3]] in the nature of events.
The world of //Hotline Miami// is populated almost entirely by men. With one exception (an opponent in Jacket's final boss fight), men are the sole perpetrators //and victims// of violence. In a wonderful essay, Maddy Myers has connected this staging to a common patriarchal narrative of [[masculinity as power and violence|http://blog.thephoenix.com/BLOGS/laserorgy/archive/2012/12/17/hotline-miami-and-america-s-narrative-of-masculinity-and-violence.aspx]], to which I have little to add. However, the [[subjectivity|sub1]] of //Hotline Miami//'s narrative [[complicates|sexism2]] any interpretation like this.
The original content of "Reality is Chosen" is licensed under a [[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License|http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/]]. This license shall not be construed to apply to or override the existing licensing terms of Twine, twee, or any other element of "Reality is Chosen".
[[Author's Note]]\n[[Conventional Format]]\n[[Acknowledgements]]\n[[License]]\n
Neither explanation the Janitors offer feels satisfactory, which fits the game's oppositional tone. Maddy Myers [[puts it best|http://blog.thephoenix.com/blogs/laserorgy/archive/2012/12/17/hotline-miami-and-america-s-narrative-of-masculinity-and-violence.aspx]]:\n\n<html><blockquote>Why have you committed all of these murders? Well, it was something to do... Do you want a lengthier explanation for why you did this? The answer is America. Are you still confused? You should be, because this is terrible, and none of these justifications should satisfy you.</blockquote></html>\n\n<<back>>
A number of aesthetic flourishes connect //[[Drive|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive_%282011_film%29]]// and //Hotline Miami// - the mask, the jacket, the alienated protagonist, the uncompromising depiction of intense violence. Driver is an insular and strange young man, working as a stunt driver and as a mechanic. He also leads a life of crime, driving getaway cars in L.A. heists. These gigs are isolated - he's not part of the team, he doesn't carry a gun. All he does is drive. His boss and mentor Shannon mediates all these activities, but doesn't let them bleed into one another. The narrative shifts, though, once Driver meets Irene.\n<<if ($drv eq 0) or ($drv eq 2)>><html> </html>\nIrene's presence in his life humanizes Driver and connects him to other people. If the acting doesn't make this obvious enough, the soundtrack explicitly states what's going on by making their love theme "[[A Real Hero|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boFhHOjljs0]]". The previously flat Driver smiles and engages with Irene and Benicio while the song indicates that he is "emotionally complex" and "a real human being". //Hotline Miami//'s apparent narrative of the Woman fixing at least part of Jacket's life echoes this development.<<endif>><<if $drv eq 2>><html><br></html><<endif>><<if $drv gte 1>><html> </html>\nMeeting Irene causes the structure of Driver's compartmentalized life to break down. The garage job bleeds into his home life, then his home life bleeds into his getaway driving gig. This in turn exposes an even more closed-off part of Driver's psyche - his capacity for violence. Both in //Drive// and //Hotline Miami//, the structural breakdown results in tragedy. At the cost of his relationship (and by implication his humanity), Driver manages to save Irene. Jacket, however, can only avenge the Woman.<<endif>>\n\nBoth //Drive// and //Hotline Miami// depict horrific violence as self-destructive and inglorious. In both works, the decision to solve problems through bloodshed rebounds against both perpetrators and those who direct them. As Carolyn Petit puts it in [[her comparison|http://www.gamespot.com/features/at-the-crossroads-of-violence-drive-meets-hotline-miami-6401814/]], violence "ultimately destroys the lives of those who engage in it." //Drive// at least allows its protagonist to seem heroic, if misguided in his decisions. //Hotline Miami// condemns its protagonists along with their enemies.\n\n<<back>>
//Hotline Miami// is a game of choices.\n\nPlayers who have experienced the great branching narratives of of RPGs and interactive fiction may find this statement strange. //Hotline Miami// is almost entirely linear. It has no sidequests, no hidden levels, and no alternative paths. The end emerges inexorably from a single chain leading back to the beginning.\n\nChoices nonetheless abound in //Hotline Miami//'s blood-spattered levels. The player starts each combat zone by selecting a mask that will offer bonuses or handicaps. His route and actions within the level will reflect strategic choices - plans, prioritization, and timing. [[Jacket]] can pick up any weapon in a level, and these options call on the player to consider their noisiness, ammo, damage, and reach. The variability introduced by wandering enemies and different weapon selections transforms each level into a kind of murder jazz, an exhilarating layer of improvisation wrapped around a thin core of a plan.\n\nThe significance of the tactical options becomes obvious once one begins playing [[Biker]]'s levels. In his first appearance, Biker complains that he's bored, rather than excited, by the killing he's been doing. The player instinctively understands this because Biker's levels //are// boring. Biker never chooses masks, instead always wearing his helmet. Biker never picks up new weapons, but constantly uses the same cleaver and throwing knives. //Biker// has chosen the terms of engagement, and his approach makes his levels feel as restrictive and uninteresting for the player as they are for him.\n\nThe narrative of choice complements the gameplay. The player makes important decisions for Jacket in the combat zones, and outside of them the character is passive. The telephone voices - and even the Bearded Man - tell him what to do, although the player can opt to skip the retail episodes or refuse the Bearded Man's largesse. Until "Deadline", Jacket's only proactive choice is to retrieve the Woman from "[[Decadence]]". Jacket's decision to seek revenge after "Deadline" completely restructures the game and its implications. Once he takes control of his own life he becomes an (anti)heroic figure, rather than just a passive perpetrator of meaningless violence.\n\nBiker, on the other hand, directs himself. He, rather than the player, chooses what capabilities he will have in the level. In the story, he bucks the directives from the telephone and acts for himself. He is proactive and powerful.\n\nThis dichotomy extends to the characters' subjective experiences. Biker finds the violence boring, and his gameplay restrictions make it boring. Yet, //he// is the one who has opted to wield a limited palette of weapons - that cleaver isn't glued to his hand. Biker is bored because he is opting to stick with the familiar. Jacket, meanwhile, chooses to live a fantasy in which he is heroic even in failure.\n\nEven as Biker controls the gameplay, he cedes some responsibility to the player, who can make certain narrative choices in his chapters. This is most obvious in the final mission, in which the player can choose an ending. If he has found the tiles scattered through //Hotline Miami//'s levels, he can opt to enter a [[password|Vietnam]] into a computer for the game's "secret" ending. If he doesn't use the computer, either because he doesn't have the tiles or doesn't want to do it, he gets a "normal" ending that itself allows the player to choose dialog options. The player can opt to kill the [[Janitors]] after either ending, or simply drive off into the sunset.\n\nThe finale only offers the player some possible motivations for what has already occurred. Biker's chapters also offer the player a more significant choice, in that he can decide what the game's plot means. In "Prank Call", Biker goes to the PhoneHom offices, where the inhabitants of the level, rather than attacking, try to back away from him. The player can opt to slaughter everyone, which is consistent with what Jacket saw of this area in "Neighbors". Alternatively, Biker can just walk through the level peacefully, hurting nobody until he reaches the main office, where he must kill an executive and Jacket.\n\nThis doesn't just give the player the chance to determine the extent of Biker's (and by extension, the Janitors') crimes. The choice to pass through the bulk of PhoneHom nonviolently gives the player the opportunity to reject the game's apparent narrative. Now Biker and Jacket, rather than subjectively experiencing different outcomes of a single moment, have encountered entirely different realities within PhoneHom. By leaving the workers alive, the player indirectly chooses to make Jacket's story real, or at least as real as Biker's.\n\nThe final choice in //Hotline Miami// is what to make of its convoluted and contradictory storyline. Perhaps it's a grand argument linking violence to masculinity. Maybe it's a statement against the constant bloodshed that characterizes the commercial elite of AAA games. Perhaps it's intended to encourage people [[not to blindly obey worldly authority|http://theologygaming.com/hotline-miami-and-sandy-hook/]]. It could be a critique of the value of narrative in games. Or, perhaps, it's just a tightly designed game of bloody combat that doesn't really mean anything.\n\nDo you believe that Jacket fell in love with the Woman, lost her, and found solace in revenge? Do you believe he died at PhoneHom and experienced that story as a dying fantasy? Do you believe the Janitors created the murder ring out of boredom? Do you believe they did it to undermine the Russo-American alliance? Did they do it at the behest of a mob boss? Why not everything and all at once?\n\n//Hotline Miami// happily asks [[questions]], but does not explicitly answer them. I have presented a variety of readings here, but I won't claim that any of them are definitive. They reflect my desires and biases, as Jacket's and Biker's experiences reflect theirs, as your own interests have shaped your experience of this essay. Our realities are chosen.\n\n<<back>>
Jacket isn't his actual name, of course. Nobody in //Hotline Miami// gets a name. People seem to have settled on this identifier because of the varsity jacket he wears, though they could just have easily named him "DeLorean" for his car, or "Mask" for his headgear. The gameplay and narrative characterize Jacket as a creative and flexible guy, an improviser. Jacket seems strangely passive, however; for the most part he reacts to events, rather than driving them.\n\n<<back>>
The password "I was Born in the USA" has a nationalistic flavor that connects to the explanation it reveals, which is that the [[Janitors]] are patriots trying to undermine a "Russo-American Coalition". The phrase also happens to be part of the refrain of Bruce Springsteen's "[[Born in the USA|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_in_the_U.S.A._%28song%29]]", released in 1984. It's an interesting reference, even if unintentional, because ambiguity between the song's lyrics and music has historically produced wildly divergent interpretations.\n\nListening only to the upbeat theme and the words of the chorus, one could easily come to the conclusion that the song is a jingoistic pro-America anthem. Filtered through the narrow-minded conservatism of commentator George Will, "Born in the USA" was a patriotic song that would fit well with Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign for President. Reagan's efforts to trade on Springsteen's name and music met with derision, not least from the Boss himself, who was a liberal.\n\n<html><iframe width="480" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/lZD4ezDbbu4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></html>\n\nAnyone who listens carefully to the lyrics of "Born in the USA" will know the song for what it is: a stinging indictment of America's treatment of its Vietnam War soldiers. Springsteen sings of men forced to fight in a futile effort, their lives wasted abroad and their plight ignored when they returned home. The refrain's cry "I was born in the USA" is not the boast of a man in love with his country, but a plea for for help from the nation that abandoned him. It's a fitting reference for a game where subjective experiences play such a major role.\n\n<<back>>
Franklin also argues that by invalidating the latter part of Jacket's storyline, //Hotline Miami// attempts to show that the narrative had no bearing on the value of those experiences for the player. The first problem with this is that the latter statement is not generally true. Many players, including myself, found that the revenge narrative added a compelling motivation to get through the difficult final chapters of Jacket's story and increased the satisfaction of victory. The twist //might// change the player's assessment of narrative value in retrospect, but would have no bearing on the value the story added for them //at the time//.\n\nAttempting to use this approach would also betray a boggling incapacity for understanding one's audience, as gamers are notorious for producing fan theories to explicate and justify even the most absurd plot developments of the most thinly-written games. Players who valued //Hotline Miami//'s story use the PhoneHom divergence point as a reason to reassess, rather than discard, their experiences. Elsewhere in this document I have taken the position that the later missions of Jacket's chapters tell us something about the character. Other players have gone to [[even further lengths|http://fuckyeahhotlinemiami.tumblr.com/post/35660464941/hotline-miami-a-plot-analysis]] to explain how both Biker's and Jacket's experiences are "true". Reconciling the contradictory storylines becomes part of the fun. As a result, the twist presented in "Prank Call" enriches, rather than invalidates, the story-oriented player's experience of the preceding chapters.\n\n<<back>>
It seems obvious that what comes after "Neighbors" isn't real. One can, however, seriously ask whether anything that came //before// it was real, either. Even before his fatal encounter, Jacket hallucinated frequently. When he wasn't having obvious freakouts, Jacket constantly encountered the Bearded Man in every retail establishment he visited, sometimes as a friend, sometimes as a stranger. This, in conjunction with the game's aesthetic touches, gives the whole narrative an air of the unreal from the very beginning.\n\nAnd who's to say that Biker's experience isn't a hallucination? He only has one chapter after PhoneHom, and in it he has the ability to do something impossible (guess the password) and nothing the Janitors [[tell him makes much sense|explanation]]. That's consistent with Biker's amply demonstrated lack of imagination.\n\nOnce the player accepts that a huge chunk of his experience of //Hotline Miami// was illusory, it makes no sense to accept any other part of the game at face value. Perhaps it is all a fever dream, and Jacket is just having a sunstroke on South Beach. The only certainty in //Hotline Miami//'s narrative is that we [[can't be certain|choices6]] what happened.
//Hotline Miami//'s system-dominant design prevents the player from adopting a passive attitude during combat. The player must engage with the game all the time, or he will never get through its combat zones. He must constantly be analyzing the level, thinking about everything he is seeing in it. Success demands alertness. As [[Rob Parker describes it|http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/kill-to-progress/]], the systems of Hotline Miami require the player to function at the edge of his capacity for an extended time, producing "an exhausting state of 'flow'".\n\nThe aesthetics and mechanics help maintain this state. The [[garish, strobing background|sub1]] shepherds the eye away from the edge of the screen. The thumping, fast-paced music keeps the player excited. The instantaneous restart means that death doesn't pause the action. Each death leads seamlessly to the next life, without relief, until the player succeeds.\n\nThe end of the level comes as a shock. The heart-pumping music drops out, and the attentional demands cease. The brain, however, can't stop as quickly as a computer can, so the player's nervous, hyper-alert state "[[runs over]]" the end of combat. Like Giant Bomb user [[Deadmoscow|http://www.giantbomb.com/hotline-miami/61-39452/hotline-miami-is-the-most-important-game-of-2012/35-565818/]], the player is left with "a giddy, nervous feeling... my hands had gone clammy and my heartbeat felt a little too fast." The player remains as attentive as before, but there is nothing to focus on except the piles of dead bodies he's created.\n\n//Hotline Miami// uses its system-dominant gameplay to push the player into a anxious and alert state, then forces the player to survey a level full of bloody bodies. The walk back to the car doesn't just offer an opportunity for reflection on the gruesome deeds of the preceding 2-20 minutes; it associates what the player sees in that pause with anxiety and negative emotions as a [[consequence of the design|oppo4]].
When the player clears the level, //Hotline Miami// continues to attack him by other means. In most games, including contemporary shooters, the bodies of the enemy disappear. Either they simply fade from view, or they are swept behind by the inexorable advance of a linear level. Not so in //Hotline Miami//, where the protagonist must walk back out of each level past all the bodies of the men he has slain. This forced survey of human destruction rebukes the player for the very act of playing the game. The game's aesthetics of death [[unsettle the player|violence]] without preaching that violence is wrong.\n\nOf course, //Hotline Miami// is not the first game to do this, not even in 2012. //Spec Ops: The Line// was [[celebrated|http://stolenprojects.com/]] for a similar statement. There is an instructive difference between these games, however. //Spec Ops// tied its message to ultra-conventional third-person cover shooting. Players experienced in the genre - and such players were the ostensible audience for //Spec Ops//' message - could pass through it almost by rote. Andrew Vanden Bossche described himself as playing that game with "[[the bare minimum of engagement|http://www.mammon-machine.com/post/38573876084/its-the-third-episode-of-evangelion-and-shinji]]". He took this approach because of his negative response to the game's message, but //Spec Ops//' mechanics //[[enabled|oppo3]]// him to do so.
//Hotline Miami// challenges the player constantly. I don't merely mean that the game is hard, although it //is// unrelentingly difficult. "All the time" also encompasses the moments where the player isn't running around a crummy apartment bashing skulls in with a baseball bat. From almost its first moment to its last, //Hotline Miami// attacks the player through both its gameplay and its narrative.\n\n//Hotline Miami// is an excellent example of a system-dominant combat design. This doesn't translate exactly into difficulty, and in fact some of the early levels in the game are quite easy. However, the player has few advantages, and must work to overcome numerous disadvantages. His success depends on his ability to respond to, rather than control, the system.\n\nThe player-character is frail. Unlike the protagonists of modern shooters, he can take no more damage than any of the enemies he is fighting, and in some cases can take a good deal less. He is badly outnumbered, and while the opposing force may be spread across several rooms, many of them will not stay in place. Many attempts end promptly when a shotgun-equipped mobster opens a door at an inopportune moment. Stealing the guns is not as much help [[as one might expect|Condemned]]. Guns have limited ammunition, and discharging one will frequently bring half the level running straight towards the protagonist.\n\nAs this last point implies, the enemy AI is bone stupid. While this has certain advantages (//i.e.// mobsters will not come looking for [[Jacket]] if they see a dead body), it also limits the player's ability to manipulate his enemies. However, that AI can still be exploited, and when it succeeds in taking the player down, the penalty is minimal. //Hotline Miami//'s major concession to the player is that he can restart the level instantly, although he can't switch masks.\n\nRestarting or starting, the protagonist enters each level unarmed, so the player must quickly develop a plan of attack that will allow him to take down each area's army of foes. This plan will not last long, thanks to the random motions of many of the patrolling [[mobsters|sexism1]]. The player, frail, outnumbered, and outclassed, will be forced to constantly reassess and [[adjust his plans|choices2]] in order to [[succeed|oppo2]].
"Clean Hit" is one of //Hotline Miami//'s more unusual missions. The chapter is primarily set in a swanky hotel with a nice restaurant on the first floor. The answering machine sends Jacket here to kill three people that he later learns are diplomats. Although their significance isn't obvious during the first playthrough, each of the Janitors shows up in this level, establishing the importance of this mission to their goals.\n\nThis chapter also uniquely biases the gameplay towards using firearms. "Clean Hit" has only one melee weapon laying around for Jacket to pick up, and all the enemies are armed with guns. The level is dominated by large open spaces with direct lines of fire, with large numbers of enemies. This creates a tactical situation where Jacket cannot hope to close for a melee attack without being shot first. The unique "waiter" enemies, only found on the lower floor of the hotel, stand still while firing their submachine guns, preventing Jacket from luring them into melee range. As a consequence, the only viable combat approach in "Clean Hit" is to rely primarily on the many guns that the level provides.\n\n<<back>>
<<silently>>\n<<set $TimerAddon = \nfunction()\n{\n var div_timer_container = document.createElement('div');\n div_timer_container.setAttribute('id', 'timer');\n\n var div_timer_canvas = document.createElement('canvas');\n div_timer_canvas.setAttribute('id', 'timer_canvas');\n div_timer_canvas.setAttribute('width', '0');\n div_timer_canvas.setAttribute('height', '0');\n div_timer_canvas.width = div_timer_canvas.width;\n div_timer_container.appendChild(div_timer_canvas);\n \n var div_timer_text = document.createElement('span');\n div_timer_text.setAttribute('id', 'timer_text');\n div_timer_text.innerHTML = "";\n div_timer_container.appendChild(div_timer_text);\n\n var Timer_Active = false;\n var Timer_Paused = false;\n var Timer_Mode = 'none';\n var Timer_Param = "";\n var Timer_Max = 0;\n var Timer_Now = 0;\n \n var div_jonah_floater = document.getElementById('floater');\n if(div_jonah_floater) div_jonah_floater.appendChild(div_timer_container);\n\n var div_sugarcane_menu = document.getElementById('sidebar');\n if(div_sugarcane_menu) div_sugarcane_menu.appendChild(div_timer_container);\n\n function StartTimer(val)\n {\n Timer_Active = true;\n Timer_Paused = false;\n Timer_Max = val;\n Timer_Now = val;\n div_timer_text.style.display = 'block';\n div_timer_canvas.style.display = 'block';\n }\n\n function StopTimer()\n {\n Timer_Active = false;\n div_timer_text.style.display = 'none';\n div_timer_canvas.style.display = 'none';\n }\n\n function PauseTimer()\n {\n Timer_Paused = true;\n }\n\n function ResumeTimer()\n {\n Timer_Paused = false;\n }\n\n function SetTimerText(text)\n {\n div_timer_text.innerHTML = text;\n }\n\n function SetTimerMode(mode)\n {\n if(mode == 'display')\n {\n Timer_Mode = 'display';\n }\n else if(mode == 'restart')\n {\n Timer_Mode = 'restart';\n }\n else Timer_Mode = 'none';\n }\n\n function SetTimerParam(param)\n {\n Timer_Param = param;\n }\n\n function OnTimerEnd()\n {\n StopTimer();\n if(Timer_Mode == 'restart')\n {\n state.restart();\n if(Timer_Param) alert(Timer_Param);\n window.location.reload(true);\n \n } \n else if(Timer_Mode == 'display')\n {\n state.display(Timer_Param[0]);\n }\n }\n\n function OnTimerTick()\n {\n if(Timer_Active && !Timer_Paused)\n {\n Timer_Now = Timer_Now - 0.2;\n\n if(Timer_Now <= 0) Timer_Now = 0;\n \n var context = div_timer_canvas.getContext("2d");\n div_timer_canvas.width = div_timer_canvas.width;\n\n var x = div_timer_canvas.width / 2;\n var y = div_timer_canvas.height / 2;\n var radius = 1;\n var startAngle = 1.5 * Math.PI;\n \n var endAngle = (1.5 + (2 / Timer_Max * Timer_Now)) * Math.PI;\n var counterClockwise = false;\n\n context.beginPath();\n context.arc(x, y, radius, startAngle, endAngle, counterClockwise);\n context.lineWidth = 15;\n if(div_jonah_floater) context.strokeStyle = "#FF00FF";\n if(div_sugarcane_menu) context.strokeStyle = "#BBBBBB";\n context.stroke();\n\n context.font = 'bold 30px sans-serif';\n if(div_jonah_floater) context.fillStyle = "#FF00FF";\n if(div_sugarcane_menu) context.fillStyle = "#BBBBBB";\n context.fillText(Timer_Now.toFixed(1), 55, 85);\n\n if(Timer_Now <= 0) OnTimerEnd();\n }\n }\n\n setInterval(function(){ OnTimerTick(); }, 100); \n\n macros['start_timer'] =\n {\n handler: function(obj, fnc, val)\n {\n StartTimer(val);\n }\n }\n\n macros['stop_timer'] =\n {\n handler: function(obj, fnc, val)\n {\n StopTimer();\n }\n }\n\n macros['pause_timer'] =\n {\n handler: function(obj, fnc, val)\n {\n PauseTimer();\n }\n }\n\n macros['resume_timer'] =\n {\n handler: function(obj, fnc, val)\n {\n ResumeTimer();\n }\n }\n\n macros['set_timer_text'] =\n {\n handler: function(obj, fnc, val)\n {\n SetTimerText(val);\n }\n }\n\n macros['set_timer_mode'] =\n {\n handler: function(obj, fnc, val)\n {\n SetTimerMode(val);\n }\n }\n\n macros['set_timer_param'] =\n {\n handler: function(obj, fnc, val)\n {\n SetTimerParam(val);\n }\n }\n\n}\n>>\n<<print $TimerAddon()>>\n<<endsilently>>
//Hotline Miami// backs up its subtle manipulations with explicit elements of its narrative. The game doesn't greet violence with [[approval]]. In the hallucination that starts the story, the horse accuses Jacket of having done terrible things, and the owl expresses his hatred for the protagonist. In a later vision, the chicken asks Jacket (and the player) "[[Do you like hurting other people?|questions]]". As Jacket's [[mental state degrades|sub3]], he begins to see apparitions of dead bodies everywhere. Despite their half-destroyed state, these grim visions greet Jacket with obscenities.\n\nIn the game's [[conclusion|choices4]], the [[Janitors]] take a similarly combative role. They accuse [[Biker]] of atrocities and deflect the blame for all the murders onto him. When asked if they have any last words, they shout "Fuck you!".\n\n//Hotline Miami// aggressively confronts the player in every way that it can. Its system-dominant gameplay places heavy demands on the player's ability to plan, adapt, and execute. These demands push the player into an anxious state that lingers into the post-combat survey of the dead, creating a sense of disquiet and guilt. If the player attempts to strike back against the system, as in the final chapter, the developers' avatars scream obscenities at him. //Hotline Miami// hates the player, and [[argues|choices6]] that the player deserves it.
A mark of //Hotline Miami//'s success is how universal this response is. In his [[fantastic analysis|http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RamiIsmail/20121029/180408/Why_Hotline_Miami_is_an_important_game.php]] of the game, Rami Ismail relates that he noticed how a group of students playing an early version of the game went very quickly from cheering on the bloodshed to asking whether the game might be too violent to be fun. That reaction has been widely recapitulated, from ordinary gamers to [[critics|http://gamechurch.com/hotline-miami-and-my-unclean-spirit/]] across the [[spectrum|http://kotaku.com/hotline-miami-letters/]] to internet celebrities:\n\n<html><blockquote>Hotline Miami: I can't do it guys, this game just feels wrong somehow, all the murdering. I have no idea why :(</p>— Felicia Day (@feliciaday) <a href="https://twitter.com/feliciaday/status/263428426239733763" data-datetime="2012-10-30T23:53:25+00:00">October 30, 2012</a></blockquote></html>\n\nNo reaction is universal - Liz Ryerson, for instance, doesn't think //Hotline Miami// [[substantively condemns violence|http://midnightresistance.co.uk/articles/monster-within]]. By far the more prevalent response, however, has been that the game [[makes the player feel guilty|http://www.mammon-machine.com/post/40216296089/its-time-to-talk-about-a-best-game-of-2012-that]] for what he's done, without //telling// him to feel that way, or even telling him why.\n\n<<back>>
I'm not sure if everyone is calling him "Biker". He rides a bike, of course, and his face is permanently hidden behind his helmet (because safety first, kids). He seems to lead a nicer life than Jacket. His apartment is very nice: it's kitted out with a VCR, a huge stereo, and a pet cheetah. He appears to be throwing parties there. He comes across as both flexible and proactive; //he// drives events in his portion of the story.\n\n<<back>>
Who can say what actually happens in //Hotline Miami//? The game starts with a tutorial in a group of rooms that has no exit (an impossible space) and immediately rolls into a hallucination where its [[main character|Jacket]] is berated, apparently by different versions of himself. Right off the bat, the game establishes that it is not to be taken at face value.\n\nThe aesthetics of the combat levels support this impression. The background of each level is a strobing multicolored field. All of the levels tilt and sway around the protagonist, a significant contrast to the steady, "objective" way that games typically portray their field of play. The subjectivity of the experience becomes even more obvious in "Trauma", where the swaying of the level interferes with the player's control, and along with the static that appears on the screen, communicates Jacket's feebleness.\n\nBy "Trauma", of course, Jacket has been living inside his own head for some time. [[Biker]]'s version of the confrontation at [[PhoneHom]] indicates that Jacket's story after "Neighbors" is a dying dream in the vein of "[[An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge|http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/375]]". The whole game from this point appears to be an invention of Jacket's mind.\n\nThe game does much to support this interpretation. In the coda to "Push It", the mission immediately after "Neighbors", the Bearded Man tells Jacket explicitly that none of what he's seeing is actually happening. Jacket begins to see vivid hallucinations of his victims outside of the combat zones, some of which angrily accost him. After he and the Woman get shot following "Deadline", he imagines tearing his own head apart, and the resulting wound resembles the one he receives in Biker's mission "Prank Call".\n\nMore subtly, the locations and plot become more typical of action movies after this point. For the most part, Jacket infiltrates [[glitzier places]], including nightclubs and a high-end spa. In Jacket's version of the story, the orchestrator of the phone calls turns out to be the head of the Russian mafia, rather than the more [[deflating discovery|Janitors]] Biker eventually makes. These touches, conforming a previously alienating and weird storyline to more conventional action tropes, suggest a fundamental shift in the nature of events.\n\nIt seems obvious that what comes after "Neighbors" isn't real. One can, however, seriously ask whether anything that came //before// it was real, either. Even before his fatal encounter, Jacket hallucinated frequently. When he wasn't having obvious freakouts, Jacket constantly encountered the Bearded Man in every retail establishment he visited, sometimes as a friend, sometimes as a stranger. This, in conjunction with the game's aesthetic touches, gives the whole narrative an air of the unreal from the very beginning.\n\nAnd who's to say that Biker's experience isn't a hallucination? He only has one chapter after PhoneHom, and in it he has the ability to do something impossible (guess the password) and nothing the Janitors [[tell him makes much sense|explanation]]. That's consistent with Biker's amply demonstrated lack of imagination.\n\nOnce the player accepts that a huge chunk of his experience of //Hotline Miami// was illusory, it makes no sense to accept any other part of the game at face value. Perhaps it is all a fever dream, and Jacket is just having a sunstroke on South Beach. The only certainty in //Hotline Miami//'s narrative is that we can't be certain what happened.\n\n<<back>>
[[Sparky Clarkson|http://ludo.mwclarkson.com]]
Some people may find "Reality is Chosen" difficult to navigate or reference in its original format. This page will allow you to access its major topics as whole essays that are more easily searched. Note that these larger pieces still link out to some of the minor points made throughout the work.\n\n[[Choices]]\n[[Ludology]]\n[[Masculinity]]\n[[Opposition]]\n[[Structure]]\n[[Subjectivity]]\n
Do the contrasts between Jacket's and Biker's levels argue for a mechanics-oriented videogame aesthetics? [[Chris Franklin|http://www.errantsignal.com/blog/]] promotes this interpretation in his interesting [[reading of the game|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AixOBp15KdI]]. He posits that the shift in the structure of //Hotline Miami//, from narrative-free loops, to plot-integrated gameplay, to story-driven chapters is meant to illustrate the superfluity, or at least subordinate status, of plot in relation to play. It's a fascinating take, well worth attending to, that I think has some serious problems.\n\nFranklin makes the interesting observation that //Hotline Miami// puts all the incentives on the side of performing violence, and in fact, of performing violence in specific ways. Players get more points for killing quickly, using a variety of weapons, and especially for performing brutal "executions". Good scores earn the player new weapons and masks, and contribute to a letter grade the player receives for each level. This makes the score system a closed loop, however - playing the game "well" gives the player more tools for playing the game.\n\nThis doesn't exhaust the list of incentives. From the beginning, //Hotline Miami// confronts the player with an almost ostentatiously weird scenario, one that is bound to inspire curiosity. The desire to see what happens next, or to get an explanation for the mysterious events occurring in the game, also constitutes an incentive driving the player to complete the levels, and hence to perform violence.\n\nTrue, simply achieving the goal of advancing the narrative doesn't give the player a high score or unlock any new weapons or masks. Does any of that matter to a narrative-oriented player? A person who is primarily interested in seeing what happens next will likely just click through the score page, in //exactly// the same way as a player who does not care for the story will simply click through the game's dialogue.\n\nWhat //Hotline Miami// really does here is provide complementarity. Players who come into its levels seeking mastery receive scores and a grade telling them how well they've done, and receive gameplay rewards. Players who go into combat seeking to examine the world and unravel its mysteries are rewarded with progress. They don't even have to do particularly well in the levels - score targets are low and need not be met in order to [[continue the story|ludo2]].
Jacket finds the Woman in a pornographer's villa in the chapter named "Decadence". His phone message before the mission comes from "Hotline Miami's Dating Service", telling him that his "date" will be waiting for him at the target location. He's instructed to wear something fancy.\n\nInitially the Woman is locked away in an inaccessible room with the film-maker, but he opens the door as he goes to confront Jacket after all the other mobsters have been killed. Because he wears a bulletproof vest, the pornographer must be shot several times, and serves as the game's first boss.\n\n//Hotline Miami// gives the player no other choice than to rescue the Woman. If Jacket tries to leave, the Woman will tell him to "finish what he started". Attempts to shoot her from a distance fail, and if the player tries to attack her at close range he will instead pick her up.\n\n<<back>>