In theory, Hitman GO (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) — a strategic puzzle game inspired by the stealth action series — shouldn’t have worked. Though because it employed increasingly clever mechanics, and both embraced and ejected the Hitman games’ tenet where necessary, it managed to be a rather impressive spin-off that was as fun for puzzle fans as it was for those who like the regular Hitman games. But while the new Hitman GO Definitive Edition (PlayStation 4, Vita) doesn’t add anything new, those who skipped the mobile version finally have their chance to get smart and sneaky.
For those unfamiliar with the mobile edition, Hitman GO has Agent 47, as usual, trying to kill people, steal their briefcases, and complete other objectives before escaping the area. But unlike a regular Hitman game, Hitman GO plays like a board game. All of the action is set on a flat surface, with both you and your enemies limited to moving one spot at a time, spots that are along specific pathway. It’s like chess, only if there were lots of different board layouts and everyone moved like a rook. In fact, to take someone out, simply move onto the space where they’re standing; just be warned that they can do the same to you. There are even characters who, depending on what they’re wearing, will move in different ways. The kicker being that, when it’s your turn, you have to move, even if you have no where to go but to your death.
As Hitman GO progresses, the pathways get more intricate, and more populated, but you also get more tools as well. Not only are there potted plants you can hide inside, and trap doors that instantly move you to an otherwise unconnected space, but you can also use tennis balls, empty soda cans, and rocks to get enemies to move to specific spots, while later levels let you put on different outfits you can use to sneak past people wearing the same colored clothes. There are even levels inspired by missions in such earlier games as 2002’s Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and 2006’s Hitman: Blood Money.
What’s interesting is that, visually, Hitman GO fully embraces its board game inspirations. Both Agent 47 and the other characters look and move like they’re the pawns from a Hitman-themed chess set, and when you knock someone off, you really do knock them off the board. Granted, having such stylish visuals and animations doesn’t make this any more fun (or any less for that matter), but it’s an attention to detail that shows how much care the developers put into this game.
As for how the Hitman GO Definitive Edition improves upon the original, the answer is not by much. Yes, it adds a lot more detail to the visuals, but this, obviously, does nothing for the gameplay. Similarly, letting you move with the flick of a thumbstick works just as well as playing this with a touchscreen, and vice versa. This also includes the two collections of levels they added to the mobile game after its release. Though all this means that if you’ve already got this on your phone, there’s no reason to get it again.
But if you didn’t bother with the original because you thought there was no way a strategic puzzle game based on the Hitman games, chess, and a bunch of board games could ever work, then I really encourage you to pick this up. It’s smart, inventive, and gets nicely challenging, while also being an interesting take on the stealth action mechanics of the regular Hitman games. In other words, it just works.