I normally write about new releases.  Hitman Go isn’t exactly new as it released back in 2014, but a recent sale from $5 down to $1 was enough to entice me.  It’s the first of Square Enix’s series of Go games, which now includes Lara Croft Go and Deus Ex Go.  Based on how much fun Hitman Go is, I’ll probably be playing those games fairly soon.

The titular Hitman is seen here relaxing by the pool prior to eliminating his targets

  • TL;DR: A turn-based puzzler starring the well-known assassin, Hitman Go sounds weird but definitely works
  • Platform: Android (reviewed), iOS
  • Time Played: 2:15
  • What I Played: Finished the first two level packs

There is no tutorial in Hitman Go.  Instead, it just drops you in and you learn on the fly.  The game is broken up into levels that Agent 47 has to navigate through unscathed.  Movement is restricted to the lines and nodes on the board.  Beating a level is as simple as moving to the end space, but there’s a lot more to Hitman Go than swiping left and right.

Levels in Hitman Go are filled with different types of enemies that act in different ways.  The first type you’ll run into, the burly guys in blue jackets, stand completely still and will kill you if you land one space in front of them.  You’ll encounter more types of enemies, like the yellow jacketed ones who move forward one space each turn or the guys in the teal coats with knives who spin in place, as the game progresses.  You always move before all enemies do, so beware — landing one space ahead of an enemy’s line of sight means instant death.  Being an assassin means that you can take the enemies out yourself, as well.

Hitman Go is one of the best looking mobile games I’ve seen.  It has a distinct board game feel to it.  Each level is like its own little diorama with the “players”, including Agent 47 and each enemy, modeled as solid plastic pieces with a round bottoms.  The camera is zoomed way out before starting each level, letting you take in the beauty of each individual board.  You can rotate levels as you play on them just like someone walking around a table to get a better look at a miniatures game.  The board game aesthetic is completed by the fact that each level pack is depicted as a separate board game, complete with cover art on the top and a barcode on the side.  The level packs change in theme, from the mansion/complex of the first to the dark monastery of the second.

Out with the cartoony heroes, in with the miniatures
Out with the cartoony heroes, in with the miniatures

Each level in Hitman Go has three objectives.  One of them is always to simply clear the board while the other two task you with playing a certain way — eliminate all enemies, finish with no kills at all, only take a certain number of turns — which helps force you finish levels multiple times with different routes.  You’ll gain one point/token/stamp for each of the three objectives which are needed to unlock subsequent level packs.

Items help break up any monotony that may set in by simply moving a piece around a board.  Certain levels have throwable items like rocks or tennis balls that will alert enemies within one space, moving them towards a spot and changing their movement paths and sight lines.  Agent 47 can hide behind plants to avoid detection, travel across the map quickly between trap doors, and even become immune to an enemy type by putting on their jacket from a clothing rack.  I guess the bad guys aren’t all that bright.  The pacing of these new gameplay mechanics is spot on and keeps the game from getting stale.

The difficulty of Hitman Go is also pitch perfect.  Levels are challenging but never impossible.  If you truly feel stuck, though, Square Enix gives you five single-use hints that will show you exactly how to complete one of a level’s three objectives.  In almost all cases, you can spend five or so minutes playing around in a level before you see the trick or key to beating it.

The key to this level is to take out the giant red target.
The key to this level is to take out the giant red target.

Hitman Go is an example of a mobile game done right.  It may seem a bit expensive at $5 when many mobile games are free, but you get your money’s worth.  It’s beautiful, there isn’t a recharge-over-time mechanic to limit you from playing or any annoying ads, and the only microtranscations are for extra hints.  It’s easy enough to pick up and play whenever you want but difficult enough to keep you on your toes.  I’m a big fan of Hitman Go and if you like puzzle games that you can pick up whenever you’ve got a spare 10-15 minutes, you will too.

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