No matter how much we try to deny it, violence is great entertainment. We’ve always known this, from gladiator fights to action movies. Blood is the ultimate crowdpleaser. Of course, participating is usually something most people won’t do, seeing how the threat of bodily harm to oneself is a rather powerful deterrent. Most people prefer to remain spectators, a winning formula that satisfies both our lust for adrenaline and the wish not to deal with the repercussions of violence.
Video games can take this one step further. Virtual worlds allow us to partake in killing, maiming and dismembering unfeeling computer automatons with no fear of the consequences. It is no wonder most popular video games feature violence in one way or another. Most games try to give justification to the carnage, or take refuge in audacity by making it too stylized and unrealistic to take seriously. Some even try to turn the tables and take a moral stand on the issue, as is the case with Spec Ops: The Line. Hotline Miami does none of those things. It simply hands you a kitchen knife, locks you into a room filled with potential victims and opens up the door fifteen minutes later with a knowing smirk on its face.