The developer and publisher of Hotline Miami 2 have responded to news of the hyper-violent action game being refused classification in Australia, which effectively bans it. Kotaku Australia learnt a scene implying sexual assault against a female character prompted the decision. The people behind Hotline Miami 2, however, believe the ratings board “incorrectly portrays” this.
Here’s how the scene is described by the Australian Classification Board:
“In the sequence of game play footage titled Midnight Animal, the protagonist character bursts into what appears to be a movie set and explicitly kills 4 people, who collapse to the floor in a pool of copious blood, often accompanied by blood splatter. After stomping on the head of a fifth male character, he strikes a female character wearing red underwear. She is knocked to the floor and is viewed lying face down in a pool of copious blood. The male character is viewed with his pants halfway down, partially exposing his buttocks. He is viewed pinning the female down by the arms and lying on top of her thrusting, implicitly raping her (either rear entry or anally) while her legs are viewed kicking as she struggles beneath him. This visual depiction of implied sexual violence is emphasised by it being mid-screen, with a red backdrop pulsating and the remainder of the screen being surrounded by black.”
Though Australia has an “adults only” classification, Hotline Miami 2 won’t be receiving that. Being labelled with “Refused Classification” means the game can’t be sold in Australia. It’s a ban.
This scene has been called into question before. A PC Gamer article by Cara Ellison prompted a vocal outcry, though Ellison’s piece did not request for the game to be censored in any way.
Devolver Digital and Dennaton Games aren’t denying Hotline Miami 2‘s introduction sequence could make people feel uncomfortable but feel it’s misrepresented. It’s also optional, apparently.
“First, to clear up any possible misconceptions, the opening cinematic that was first shown in June of 2013 has not changed in any way. We also want to make clear that players are given an choice at the start of the game as to whether they wish to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence. The sequence in question is presented below in context, both after choosing the uncut version of the game and after choosing to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence.
Second, in response to the report itself, we are concerned and disappointed that a board of professionals tasked with evaluating and judging games fairly and honestly would stretch the facts to such a degree and issue a report that describes specific thrusting actions that are not simply present in the sequence in question and incorrectly portrays what was presented to them for review.”
Specifically, the game warns players “this game contains scenes that allude to sexual violence,” and presents the ability to exclude those scenes. This video presents how the scenarios play out:
Devolver told me this option is present in all versions of the game.
There are no plans to “officially” challenge the ruling and the game’s publisher “stand by our developers, their creative vision for the storyline, its characters and the game.”
Hotline Miami 2 doesn’t have a release date but is reportedly coming “very soon”.