Hitman GO: Definitive Edition

Hitman GO was an unexpected hit when it made its debut on mobile devices in 2014, excelling both critically and commercially, with a unique twist on the Hitman license. Presented as a board game, players control Agent 47 in navigating a series of puzzles using turn-based strategy and it’s now made its way onto consoles, Vita and PC with the customary ‘Definitive Edition’ title that is much beloved in video game media these days. The transition has been smooth, albeit not totally perfect with some issues to be found in the controls; nonetheless this is a brilliant puzzle game at its core with an elegance and simplicity that few in this genre can match, especially for this price.

GO is minimalist Hitman, you have a scenario, and you either have to get to the extraction point safely or assassinate your target successfully. As the player you control a miniature Agent 47 figurine on a diorama, moving one node at a time around a grid of set pathways avoiding or killing guards in the process. The twist is that all figures on the board only move when you do, so if you move forward, the rest of the guards will continue on their set pattern for that turn. It’s an easy concept to grasp and GO eases you into the rules and stipulations at play, for instance 47 can approach an enemy from the side or behind to take them out, but if an enemy catches you, you’re out of the game. These clearly-defined rules allow the player to formulate more effective strategies without the need for needless trial and error that seems to plague so many other titles of this genre.

It helps enormously that GO is underpinned by such confident level design, with new ideas being deftly sprinkled into the existing formula. Eventually 47 will be able to throw items as distractions, use secret hatches to bypass areas and even use weapons to take out enemies in the same turn. It wouldn’t be Hitman without disguises either, and that ability is unlocked as you progress through the game too. Hence, while things may start out simple, you’ll soon have to figure out how distractions can push or pull guards into different patterns, and how to combine each gameplay element to complete the stage successfully.

Similar progression can be found in GO’s enemy types, green coloured guards will spin 180 degrees with each turn, blue goons remain static, while sniper and guard dog variants are also introduced in the later levels.

However unlike proper Hitman titles, there’s no real freedom here to experiment with the different elements at play, you are restricted in movement along set paths and the solutions are therefore pre-determined also. But that’s what the game is built to be, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, especially when it’s as polished as this.

What is a bit of a problem though is the somewhat erratic camera, as on occasion when you move around the level to reach your target, the camera will swing around, changing what would be conventional up, down, right, left moves on the board. So you may sometimes push right only to go diagonally down, costing you a move and maybe the entire level. This is frustrating and happened to me on more than one occasion, the translation between touch controls to a regular control pad has not been made unblemished.

Hitman GO’s most notable feature meanwhile is it’s beautifully minimalist visual design, each stage has the look of a painstakingly handcrafted diorama that is more often accentuated with props such as swimming pools and tennis courts. Agent 47 and the other characters are detailed as basic board game pieces and there’s a wonderfully simplistic charm to it all, you can’t help but admire it, colour is used sparingly but when it is, it pops with elegance. If I could draw a comparison, it resembles the meticulously designed development plans you’d find in a swanky architect’s office.
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Being the ‘Definitive Edition’, you’re getting the full original game and it’s Opera, Airport and St. Petersburg add-ons, you get a lot of value for your money here. There are seven chapters in total, with the bulk of them containing 15 stages each, in addition within these stages are sub-objectives to encourage players to replay the levels in a different way. These objectives can take the form of collecting briefcases, completing a level of within a set number of turns, or not killing anyone.

Hitman GO is a great puzzle game backed up by an achingly cool visual aesthetic, it’s level design hits a sweet spot for being light enough for players to pick up and play for a half-hour without getting frustrated, and also presenting a tough challenge when tackling its more complex stages. There are some issues in the controls but overall this is a really cool spin-off on the Hitman license, and one that certainly deserves your time at this price.

8/10
+ Gorgeous minimalist visuals 

+ Assured level design 
+ Plenty of value 

-Camera issues