Words About Video Games

41 Games: Hot Tin Roof

There is, in fact, a cat that wears a fedora in this game, and the early stages are a charmingly written, light-hearted take on noir. But it's not a game that ever manages to be more than its amusing premise, and it frequently manages to be less.

The charming writing is largely abandoned in the later sections of the game, in favor of labyrinthine platforming sections that depend on special abilities that are activated by loading and unloading individual bullets into your revolver.

Perhaps it's biggest problem is the lack of a map. Some games can pull this off--they create environments that are both memorable and have a kind of logic to them that lets you navigate them without assistance. Or, like Bloodborne or Dark Souls, the fear that you're in too deep and can't find your way back is a vital part of the emotional response the game wants to elicit: it makes the stakes higher, and the joy of finding a shortcut more rewarding. It also means that each time you fail, you become more familiar with the environment, achieving spatial not just mechanical mastery. 

Unfortunately, I found Hot Tin Roof's later levels to be labyrinthine to the point of frustration, without the gratification of unlocking shortcuts, nor the sense of exploring a believable space. In short, I was just plain lost.

There are multiple endings, but it says something about my experience with the game that I got the worst ending and my main reaction was to be glad it was over.

I'm not happy with that last sentence. I don't want to bury games. I want to praise them. I enjoyed the humor, world-building, atmosphere, and puzzles of the first half-hour or so (it's not a long game.) If the next couple of hours had delivered on the promise of that first half-hour, Hot Tin Roof would be much higher on this list.