It’s tough being a Hitman, and nowhere is that more evident than in the tale of Agent 47. He’s an unwilling part of an experiment in genetics designed to create the perfect assassin. Such a program has left him scarred, both mentally and physically, and of course, has given him lethal skills unmatched by his peers. It is easy to see why this entertaining premise has netted a loyal following of fans, and the third-person action/shooter series regaling gamers with the tale of 47 is still very popular to this day. Bearing the aesthetic of Square Enix’s famous franchise, Hitman GO takes the franchise and attempts to transform its third-person action gameplay into an overhead puzzle/board game hybrid. Unique? Yes. Fun? Let’s find out.
Taking its cues more from games like Stratego rather than shooters, Hitman GO shifts players from the behind the tattooed head perspective the Hitman games are known for to an overhead view. ‘GO’ plays out very simply, and feels much like some kind of traditional board game. Your goal is to get your character piece to the end of each level by moving across spaces and avoiding or confronting enemies and obstacles. The game is easy to learn and challenging to master, both of which put the experience off to a good start.
Much like any game, what starts off very simply is soon grows into more and more complex scenarios. Different enemies and weapons are introduced as you progress, and the stages (or boards, if you will), become bigger and more complex. That’s not to say the game strays too far from its premise. You’re always just trying to get 47 to a certain space alive.
There is some replayability, though, in the form of multiple objectives per level. Finding alternate solutions to levels, such as avoiding all the enemies, or not killing anyone (or killing everyone) pose problems that players may choose to solve should they feel so inclined. These objectives are not just there for kicks, though. Players who choose to achieve these alternate objectives will be rewarded with more stages. This feeling of “Good players get more toys” is one that I feel has been missing in recent games, and it’s nice to see Hitman GO tangibly rewarding those who choose to delve deeper into the game’s content.
Frankly, this app could be completely re-skinned and sold as some kind of original mobile IP. The gameplay without the graphical correlations to the Hitman series is so different from its namesake that it requires the character models and general aesthetic to make the connection. But the game embraces its inspiration, and the aesthetics, graphics, and sound are as polished as 47’s suit. Character pieces are minimalist, reminiscent of old board games, and the soundtrack is likewise out of the way but still noticeable and slick. Hunting down a target piece to the tune of “Ave Maria” is one of the distinct Hitman moments that is translated quite nicely here.
If you are a fan of the Hitman series hoping for a mobile iteration, then you will not be pleased with the outcome. If you’re looking for a unique casual strategy experience, however, then Hitman GO will be more likely to please even those who don’t know the series. Boasting a solid aesthetic and tight gameplay, Hitman GO should not be skipped, if only to just experience the unique twist on the action/shooter series.