Hotline Miami and The Unfinished Swan both explore what is possible in the medium of video games, but in completely opposite directions. They both release today, and they are both games you should play!
I originally played The Unfinished Swan at IndieCade 2008 (the one in Bellevue!), back when it was just a one level demo. I was blown away by it then, and Ben Esposito assured me that the original level from 2008 is still in the game. On their website, developer Giant Sparrow describe The Unfinished Swan as a “a game about exploring the unknown”. Stephen Totilo describes it as “an adventure that feels like a storybook and concludes with sweet sadness.”
It’s a comparatively short experience (heard just over 2 hours), which is a good sign that the game respects the player’s time. AND, like thatgamecompany‘s last three games, it was developed as part of an incubation deal with Sony Santa Monica, so it’s a display of local Los Angeles video game talent.
I’ve been playing Hotline Miami over the past few weeks, and it’s as uncomfortable and interesting as the trailer proposes. Cactus mentioned in an interview with The Verge, “I’ve had some concerns with games that try to portray violence as a clean act that doesn’t really have that much of an impact on the player. I feel that in a way it’s a little bit irresponsible to portray it as something stylish, cool, or funny when it’s really not. So we tried our best to make it look discomforting.” They succeeded.
This is Cactus’s first wide release, non-freeware game. If you’ve enjoyed his prolific output of free games for the past 6 years, please buy Hotline Miami. Let’s make sure Cactus makes enough money that he can afford to keep exploring the medium for the foreseeable future.
The Unfinished Swan is available for the PS3 on PSN.