While the past is often looked upon positively, it's easy to forget how good we have it now. This holds true for PC gaming, as the barrier to entry for not only who can design games but also play them has become so very low.
There's plenty of creativity to be found for people that look in the right places and aren't afraid to give the unfamiliar a chance. Even in restricting ourselves to exclusives, selecting the singular "best" over the span of a full year was no easy task, made even more difficult due to the vastly different types of games on display. But, we did it.
And the winner is ...
I wouldn't have seen this one coming, certainly not before being handed a controller and asked to try Hotline Miami. I didn't expect to like the game. Heck, I certainly didn't expect to love it -- to call it one of my favorites of the year. But, upon first playing and getting hooked on the fast-paced, relentless combat, I had to rush home to buy my own copy and immediately start back up.
Hotline Miami might not look like much at first glance, even for a fairly minimalistic title from a small studio, which is why it's so important to actually play the darned thing for yourself. When word got out about possible DLC, there's a reason why so many of us were ecstatic -- the game is such a joy to play; it is unable to outstay its welcome. We want and need more!
The already impressive soundtrack takes on new meaning within Hotline Miami, smartly intertwined with what is happening on-screen during any given stage. Once the level is cleared of enemies and nothing remains but the destroyed, blood-soaked remains of everyone who stood in your way mere minutes before, the music calms down, allowing -- but not forcing -- you to reflect on what exactly it is you've done. Was it worth it?
Add in an intriguing story to piece together the enjoyable moment-to-moment action, and Hotline Miami is truly something special. No game is going to be perfect for everyone, and this is no exception, but you'd be surprised just how much you might enjoy it even if things might not appear that way now. Less can be so much more.
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