Version Reviewed: 1.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Hitman GO is one of the odder big-name games that I can remember in recent memory. It takes the core tenets of Hitman, and turns it into a strategic board game. It's a unique choice with a unique presentation to match, and while it's certainly odd at first, it comes together beautifully. This is an intelligently-designed, wonderful experience.
This is a turn-based affair, where players control Agent 47 along circuit-like boards where he can move one node at a time. He must make it to the exit without being spotted by the enemies on the board, who all move after he does, so they have an advantage, though each enemy has predictable behaviors. Thus, it's about using their patterns and the limited tools available, like noise makers and disguises, to avoid and even take out the various enemies.
Thematically, Hitman GO is interesting. The whole situation is inherently silly: it's the stealth and assassination gameplay of the Hitman series, but on a board game and in a world that feels intentionally artificial and plasticky. Everything is meant to feel like a figure on a board, with enemies removed by them getting swept off of to the side. But the internal logic of the game itself plays everything straight and serious, such as when "Ave Maria" plays on levels with important assassination targets. The way it's presented makes it so that the silliness is on the player's perception, not what the game says. It's really quite an intelligent approach, and one that does well for the game because it doesn't demean itself.
This intelligence spreads to the game as a whole: puzzles require the tracking and management of a variety of systems of enemy movement, realizing how each one will act, and where they will be when the player needs to get to a certain spot. This is a game that requires thought, it can't just be mindlessly played. The need to complete other objectives in order to progress (similar to Wind-Up Knight 2) forces players to think in other ways, too - from completing a level without killing enemies to using as few moves as possible. It's a clever game where solutions are often not obvious but can be deciphered.
It's the entirety of Hitman GO that has left me feeling so enamored. It's a game I see such intelligence in that I want to discover and decipher for myself, and the satisfaction that comes from pulling off the perfect stealth operation is immense. This might not be what people would expect from a Hitman game, but it's so good as its own odd little being that it pretty much has to be played; not just because it's a curiosity, but because it's a darn good game, too.