Square Enix Montreal
23rd February 2016
I’ve got to be honest: I wasn’t looking forward to this review. I bought the original Hitman: Go for my iPhone several months ago, played it for a few hours, got bored, and then forgot about it. When I was assigned to review the PS4 version, I was afraid that same feeling of boredom would get the best of me, and I’d end up hating the experience. Well wouldn’t you know it, the game’s actually not half bad. I guess I can chalk this up to my impatience getting the better of me eh?
Hitman Go was originally released for iOS and Android back in 2014. The Definitive Edition is the new port for PS4, Vita, and PC, which includes extra stages that were later added to the original mobile versions. The title has taken the Hitman series’ stealth mechanics and boiled it down to a simplistic turn-based puzzle game, where you navigate series protagonist Agent 47 through a variety of gridded board-game-like maps to sneak past guards and take out your main marks. You move 47 along the grid one node at a time by either using the control stick or d-pad. You can also swipe in the direction you want him to go using the touchpad on your PS4 controller if you prefer.
While the movement controls are pretty straightforward, it isn’t always easy to have 47 go in the direction you want him to. The problem is with the camera; it swings around and changes its position depending on where 47’s location is. Because of this, the direction a specific d-pad button sends 47 in can change at the drop of a hat, so you may end up accidentally send him in the wrong direction and ruin your perfect run. While you can use the control stick and touch-pad to steer your character, it doesn’t really seem to work as well as using the d-pad regardless of the camera issue. Since you’re navigating along a grid, in which you can only travel in four different directions, it’s much easier to use the D-pad as opposed to the control stick, which is more suitable for moving in a 360º plane. The touchpad isn’t all that intuitive either, as you’re not swiping on the screen itself like the mobile version, which makes it easier to see which direction you’re swiping 47 in.
Now while this is certainly a flaw with the movement mechanics, there is a way around it. More often than not you can switch the camera to an overhead view on most stages. If you do go with that type of view, the camera will stay in place, except in certain scenarios like when you get close to a mark. Being able to have an overhead view of a stage was a smart decision on the developer’s part; otherwise, it would be difficult to navigate through some of the areas.
I’m happy to say that movement controls were the only issue I had gameplay-wise because everything else is executed very well. Besides moving from node to node on the grid, you can also dispose of enemies by moving onto their spot before they do on yours, collect keys to unlock doors, steal disguises to slip by certain enemies undetected, pick up a silencer pistol or rifle to take out foes from a distance, and a few other surprises along the way.
For a game that’s so simple, it gives you a lot to play with as you progress through each stage, which prevents it from ever getting stale. Moreover, there’s a lot of enemy types such as guards that move every time you do, dogs that hunt you down relentlessly if you get too close to them, snipers that can kill you from a distance, and many more. Each type of enemy takes a different strategy to avoid or kill depending on the maps layout, plus you can use an enemy’s actions to your advantage. For example, you can lure a guard dog to a certain spot so that it blocks a sniper’s line of fire, allowing you to move to a previously inaccessible area. You’ll need to have some patience even when you learn how to deal with guards, though, as there’s a lot of trial and error involved here. Each stage presents enough challenge to where you probably won’t know how to get to the end at first, but you’ll quickly learn and adapt after you die a few (or sometimes a few dozen) times each stage.
Even when you do beat a stage, you may find yourself playing through it a couple more times, as there are a set of three objectives for each one. While the main objective is always to get to the end of the stage or kill your mark, the other two vary from collecting a briefcase in a certain spot to completing the stage under a certain number of moves. There’ll be times where you won’t be able to complete all three objectives in one go, so chances are you’ll beat most stages at least twice to do so. Completing objectives is crucial to unlocking more stages, so you should try to complete as many as you can unless you get really stumped.
Though I found its gameplay to be satisfying, I think I might like Hitman Go’s style even more. While the graphics aren’t a technical marvel, the board game aesthetics of each stage are well crafted and unique. The pleasing visuals are coupled with some real nice ambient music though admittedly the tracks can get a little repetitive since there are only a few of them.
I have to say I’m glad I gave this game another chance, as I had a lot of fun playing it. Though honestly if I do play through Hitman Go again, I’ll probably just play it on my phone since there’s very little difference in content between the iOS and PS4 ports. Plus I think the iOS version movement controls are a bit better. If, however, you are someone who didn’t buy the original version and prefer to play this on a larger screen, then this port should be perfect for you.
Simple gameplay with a surprising amount of variety in how to deal with enemies.
Variety of enemy types.
Games aesthetics and music are well crafted.
Some minor camera and movement issues.
While the music is good, it can get a bit repetitive.
If you have the original mobile version you won’t get anything new out of this port.