In a series that’s been about assassinating people for years, how much different can you get? What do you do to truly shake up the formula? Well, Hitman GO: Definitive Edition is a game that tries to answer that question.
Unlike previous Hitman titles, Hitman GO is not a third-person stealth game, but rather a turn-based, board game. Yes, Square Enix Montreal has redefined what Hitman can be and in doing so, they’ve constructed a good game that’s Cross-Buy between PS4 and Vita and features Cross-Save support.
In Hitman GO, you take control of Agent 47. As you might expect if you know the premise of the franchise or are a seasoned veteran, your goal is to assassinate the target. However, Hitman GO stretches this task out between multiple little levels on one large board where the end level sees Agent 47 finally arrive at his target. This is very similar to the 2D Mario franchise in that there aren’t bosses in each level, but rather each overall board.
The game board acts as Hitman GO’s overworld with each destination taking you to a different level with three objectives a piece. The main objective of each level is to get from point A to point B, while the side objectives involve obtaining a briefcase in the level, killing all the enemies, or possibly even killing none. For completing an objective, you earn a point which can be used toward unlocking future board games. This allows you to skip ahead in the game, in case you get stuck at any certain board game.
Hitman GO’s gameplay is very straightforward: move Agent 47 along the board, one space at a time while dodging or killing enemies until you get to the end. With each movement that Agent 47 makes, mobile enemies on the map also make a move, requiring to think lest you run into someone who will kill you.
The beginning levels of most boards introduce you to a new mechanic which could be throwing rocks, sniping, or using a trap door that teleports you to another location. From then on though, you’re more or less on your own as the game quickly picks up the slack and hammers players with some head-scratching, difficult puzzles. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to throw my controller across the room sometimes. However, finally finding the solution to a puzzle or certain objective on my own was very satisfying because of how difficult that task was.
While getting stuck in Hitman GO was rather common for me, it never really became a problem because of the hint system. Going into the hint system allows you to see a step-by-step walkthrough of how to obtain each objective. Sure, it’s more or less cheating but the drawback is that you can’t earn the Silent Assassin trophy if you use the hint system. I found myself resorting to this method on a few occasions where the solution to the puzzle just wasn’t coming to me.
When I wasn’t scratching my head trying to figure out the solution to a puzzle, I was wrestling with the controls. The controls are not consistent. When looking at the Agent 47 figure, the direction on the d-pad that moves him in any way should stay the same. Up should always move him one space up (or backwards because of how he’s facing), down should move him toward his face. Instead, which way you move depends entirely on where you are in the map due to the game’s dynamic camera. So, sometimes left moves you down, or maybe up will move you left. It’s incredibly confusing to keep track of and will result in a lot of restarts.
At the time of this review, level 1-15 is bugged so that neither up nor down on the d-pad do anything when you’re next to the target in a certain camera orientation. Pressing left on the d-pad takes you back into a room with two enemies and pressing right gets you killed. Killing the target himself is not possible, unless you change the camera or switch to the PS Vita version. Luckily, Cross-Save made getting past this puzzle before I knew how to change the camera pretty painless.
For me, Cross-Save was a huge feature in Hitman GO. Cross-Save made playing Hitman GO a lot more convenient. Because this is largely a puzzle game where I couldn’t figure out the solution to a level without numerous restarts, being able to quit the level, Cross-Save and pick up from where I left off on my PS Vita was a godsend. Besides freeing the TV for others, this allowed me to get a more one-on-one approach to the puzzles because it was just me, my Vita, and Hitman with no distractions.
As I mentioned before, there’s a points system in Hitman GO. For instances where I couldn’t finish a board because I didn’t want to take advantage of the hints, the points allowed me to unlock later boards ahead of time. Each board has a certain number of points needed to unlock.
It took me about seven hours – spread across three afternoons – to beat every level while getting about 60% of the challenges done. So, the game could be longer for others or it could be much shorter, depending on how good you are at puzzle games. I found myself using the hint feature to guide my way through most of the last two levels because I couldn’t figure out their solutions. This was odd to me because although the game was difficult before, I felt that a difficult spike had been placed out of nowhere.
When you beat the last level, the game just ends. There isn’t any fanfare, no credits playing, not even a “thank you for playing” message at the end. It’s like you just completed another level and that’s it. Frankly, not having the simplest of conclusions makes the ending rather anticlimactic. I’d have at least liked for the credits to play.
Hitman GO has a very clean and minimalistic look with little going on in the background environments. This helps keep your focus on what’s going on in the board. At the same time, the simplistic look without environments outside of the core level gives the whole thing a very sterile feel which can be eerie with the few sound effects and lack of any meaningful dialogue.
Hitman GO is a fun departure from the typical Hitman style. With the few afternoons it took me to complete the game, I had plenty of fun, but I’m not sure if I’ll be returning to polish off some of those more difficult challenges. If you’re a Hitman fan who needs something to tide them over until Hitman’s episodic release in March or you’re looking for a fun and difficult puzzle game, then Hitman GO should certainly suffice
+ Points and hint system make getting stuck virtually impossible
+ Beautiful graphics and clean look
+ Perfect, bite-sized levels
+ Cross-Saving is painless and convenient
+ Cross-Buy between PS4 and PS Vita
– End-game difficulty spike
– Controls don’t work in certain camera orientations
– Anti-climactic ending