Hitman GO: Definitive Edition Review

With such a complex web of systems and mechanics, porting any game in the Hitman series over to smartphone and tablet would have resulted in something clunky and unforgiving. Just the thought of having to control Agent 47 using a touchscreen was enough to put me off any attempt made by Square Enix at bringing the franchise to mobile.

They pulled it off, however, and with quite some flair too. Instead of taking the Hitman formula and replicating it piecemeal on handheld devices, Square’s Montreal studio took its core ingredients and distilled them into something completely new. Although detached from the mainline series, there’s no denying that somewhere beneath its minimalist charm lies a core that exudes both strangeness and familiarity in tandem.

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Having bagged high scores and industry awards, it’s no surprise Hitman GO is back for a second helping, this time on PlayStation 4, PC, and Vita. Contained within this latest version, the so-called Definitive Edition, is the full game in all its glory, plus a few tweaks to soften its transition from mobile and tablet. Naturally, this newer build has also seen a visual enhancement though the difference is not as significant as you might hope.

This is mainly due to Hitman GO’s original minimalist styling. Instead of aiming for something hyper-realistic set in the Hitman universe, GO is one part art exhibition diorama, one part chess board. Agent 47 and the various other game pieces are beautifully rendered using a little colour and instrinsic detailing as possible to bring this world to life. Equally as impressive are the environments, indicative of the models and development plans you’d likely find in architect’s office.

What’s even more charming is how each of the seven chapters is represented by a faux board game box when cycling through the main menu. These beautiful aesthetic touches come together to create one the best looking games we’ve seen in years. Although it does very little to amplify this aspect much, playing on PC and consoles allows players to rotate each set piece and soak in the finer details.

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Visual fidelity wasn’t the only thing Square Montreal had to account for when developing Hitman GO. As mentioned before, mobile games have a penchant for using virtual buttons and joysticks but this simply wouldn’t work for a series as finicky or precise. Instead, the developer has distilled the very essence of the stealth action genre, pouring this molten mixture of ideas into puzzle-shaped cast. What comes out the other end plays like a series of elabroate chess scenarios.

Bar a handful of assassination missions, your objective in Hitman GO will always remain the same: travel to the extraction point without being apprehended. Taking control of Agent 47, you can move the world-class killer one space at a time across the game board. However, as you’ll quickly discover, the game pieces used to represent guards will also move simultaneously. If you happen to step into the space they’ll be occupying during their turn then they’ll eliminate you from the board.

Hitman GO can feel like a game of cat and mouse in that respect. In order to strike your enemies’ blind spots, you’ll often have to wait for them to align just so. Then again, being stealthy and avoiding confrontation altogether is sometimes a more effective startegy.

The deeper you plunge into the secret world of contract killings, the more mechanics come into play. Guards will start to change their behaviour while also equipping themselves with riot shields, sniper rifles, and attack dogs. Meanwhile, power-ups will begin to appear in pre-set locations, allowing Agent 47 to return fire or slip into a disguise.

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With multiple solutions to each puzzle, Hitman GO allows for a fair amount of experimentation. However, to achieve a full rating on each level you’ll often have to go back and perform side tasks such as collecting a briefcase or beating a stage in as few moves possible. They help add some replay value and need to be conquered in order to unlock Hitman GO’s later chapters.

One thing sadly missing from the Definitive Edition is some kind of rewind function. Especially in later levels, with much planning and forethought, it can be frustrating when your master plan is foiled and your taken back to the beginning. It’s a very minor gripe, however, and one that fails to knock Hitman GO down a peg.

When particularly stuck on a puzzle, the game’s hint system can show the way, even charting the routes needed to complete side objectives. Compared to the mobile version of Hitman GO, you can use the hint system as much as you want without having to earn or purchase silly tokens. The only downside is that it bars players from earning the game’s most prestigious trophy, effectively killing their chances of bagging a platinum.

What’s Good:

  • Sumptuously stylish.
  • Clever puzzles that somehow capture that Hitman essence.
  • Plenty of replay value.

What’s Bad:

  • Pretty much a direct port.
  • Could have done with bonus features.

Despite having enjoyed the original game on iPad, for some reason I didn’t keep it installed for long. In a weird kind of way, this console adaptation feels just as definitive as its title purports to be without really changing anything. Reflecting on this strange trail of thought, I suspect it has much to do with the presence of an actual game controller and time pressures often associated with playing games on mobile devices. Either way, Hitman GO: Definitive Edition is well worth the plunge, even at its current asking price. Although the cost has been inflated, you’d be hard-pressed to find a puzzle game of this calibre on PSN or Steam for just over a fiver.

Score: 8/10

Version tested: PlayStation 4

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3 Comments

  1. I have this on my iPhone but rarely play games on it anymore so picked it up on Vita yesterday.

    FYI – there has been a mix-up on the PS Store with the Cross-Buy feature which will be corrected on 2nd March, so if you buy the PS4 version now you will get the Vita version when the error is put right on 2nd March (and vice-versa), so don’t buy both just yet!

    It also features cross-save between those platforms too.

  2. Picked it up yesterday for the PS4 and it’s enormous fun.

    One the plus side, it looks gorgeous. The puzzles are quite clever, and it does a good job of slowly introducing more complications.

    The only problems I found are that it’s perhaps a little bit too kind when it adds new features. You get harder levels, then a run of easy ones with just the new features. And overall it’s a bit too easy to start with. I’ve just got 2 sets of levels to go already. Ok, so I’m stuck on one level finally. (The assassination level in the first of the smaller sets. I guess they’re bonus sets with only 8 instead of 15?) But so far it’s a little bit too easy. Yes, you’ll fail lots of times on some levels. And yes, you get that “Well, that was obvious really” feeling once you finally crack it. But never that “This game sucks! I’m never playing it again!” feeling followed about 15 minutes later by “Well, that was obvious really. Why was I being so stupid?” when you come back to it and do it first time.

    But going back and doing all the objectives might be more of a challenge. Some of those are tricky, and some are impossible to do in one go. (You can’t kill all the enemies _and_ not kill any at the same time, obviously)

    And I wish it would tell you the objectives at the start of a puzzle. Took me ages to realise that you don’t have to finish a level to see them, they show up if you pause the game too.

    Overall, yes, it deserves that score.

  3. If you can handle the fact that the entire mood, emotional investment and feeling of the main franchise has gone, these games work really well. Distillation is still ultimately about separation, filtering and stripping out something from something else. It’s what you lose (here) that frustrates me. Both Hitman and Lara’s GO games are dried husks of their former selves. They maintain important game mechanics, I guess, but the cost of such a title is something I’m now keen to avoid in the future.

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