When you think of popular franchises that make their way to mobile devices, the experience is usually subpar. The mobile developer, probably under direction of the publisher, attempts to shoehorn a console experience into a mobile device. With Hitman GO, Square-Enix Montreal took the essence of the Hitman franchise and distilled it into a mobile device. Does this singular focus make for a well-balance mobile game? That’s what we’re about to find out.
The Traditional Hitman Experience
In traditional Hitman games you play as Agent 47, a professional hitman that’s one of the best in the world. You are assigned missions to eliminate a target and graded on your performance. You can eliminate the target using various methods, but no matter the method you must develop a strategy. It is the development of your strategy that garnered acclaim from the gaming community. With Hitman GO, the game is all about strategy.
The Mobile Experience
Hitman GO is a mix of chess and a typical board game. Your job is to navigate Agent 47 from one end of the board to the other without being detected. Because variety is the spice of life, you are given additional objectives. A mission might have the following objectives:
- Reach the goal
- Collect the briefcase
- Complete the mission in 22 steps or less
You can complete objectives in any manner that you wish. For example, during some missions it’s easier for me to focus on securing the briefcase first and then play the level again to complete another objective.
With a focus on a singular experience, the game should play well. I’m happy to report that the game plays as well as it looks. The game follows the design ideals of traditional board games with a minimalistic design that fits the brand. Each of the pieces has a certain level of polish. Character models look so good that I wouldn’t be surprised if Square-Enix created a line of toys based on the game. Especially with the popularity of Amiibo, Skylander and Disney Infinity figures. To compliment the games aesthetics, the soundtrack and sound effects create an atmosphere that says “I’m a hitman. A smooth and smart hitman”.
Hitman GO is comprised of 8 levels, 2 of which are from previous hitman games; Blood Money & Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. Each level has 13-15 missions and each mission has three objectives. This means you’ll play the same level two or three times. That statement would usually pose an issue to some, but luckily the game was designed to ease the burden of multiple attempts for the same level.
So we talked about the visuals, soundtrack and design…but how does it play? Quite wonderfully in fact. I always judge puzzle games with a metric; can I complete the puzzle without them feeling impossible. In Hitman GO the puzzles are challenging but not to the point you’d quit in frustration. The game does an excellent job of building the difficulty as you progress through each level. The first levels are simple, move through the board without being detected. As you progress, so does the difficulty. You encounter different enemy classes, each with their own look and movement patterns. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself strategically moving through a trapdoor to use a sniper rifle to eliminate an enemy blocking your path. The developer does a great job mixing different enemy classes with each level. As the difficulty increases you find yourself playing chess with the computer, counting your enemy’s steps ahead of each of your moves.
The Console Test
I am console gamer in the south. That means we drive everywhere and public transportation is basically nonexistent. So when I sit down to play a mobile game it’s for a long stretch of time. Usually longer than a mobile game is designed for. Happy to report that Hitman GO passes the console test. You can play this game for long stretches of time without getting bored. The only downside to GO is the lack of variety in the objectives. After a while you can get bored with the same three objectives. Also, I wish there were more assassination missions. Usually in a level you might come across two or three assassinations, which is a shame because those are some of the best puzzles in the game.
Hitman GO is a great puzzle game for iOS. If you enjoy Hitman and have five dollars burning a hole in your pocket, go ahead and buy this game. There is enough here to statuary even the most hardcore of Hitman fans.