Hitman Absolution by Metacritic was an utter failure (read: anything less than an 80 and doesn’t fit into the series in a way that is familiar to diehard fans). I’m not necessarily denying or agreeing with this assessment, but the popular discourse around the game is that for the most part it’s not worth playing relative to the other games in the series. I skipped out on this entry in the series for exactly that reason.

But after watching the video below from Cameron Kunzelman, a games writer and maker at thiscageisworms.com I realized that the dismissal of “low rated” and casual (an attitude I exhibited myself) can sometimes overlook genuinely unique or even good game design decisions. The Hitman Absolution developers, IO Interactive, in response to such criticism have moved away from the model of this game with the latest Hitman, taking a “going back to the roots” philosophy so common to the recent reboot narrative.

Kunzelman’s reading of Hitman Absolution examines the smaller components within the whole of a game through a sort of lesson gathering lens. Hitman Absolution isn’t necessarily a great game by most standards, but it still has a lot to say about game design and how to develop a world and story. Kunzelman’s analysis pivots on the notion of “strangeness”, the unconventional aspects of the game that make it stand out. He describes this “strangeness” as follows:

Strangeness in games generally means that they are doing something unrecognizable or unique or interesting when compared to other games.

Emphasis on the way in which “strangeness” can elevate parts of a game that as a whole wasn’t necessarily well received. Anyway, I don’t have any more insight than the video, so jump to it. Kunzelman’s close reading of the game is genuinely intriguing and makes a compelling case for picking up the game during a Steam sale or what not. It’s not only a good model of how to read games in an interesting way, but how to add another level of satisfaction to your play.

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