Ever since Hitman Go was announced for mobile platforms, I've been enamored of the board game/diorama art style. The miniatures representing Agent 47 and his marks makes assassination the most charming of pastimes.
The title, which is out on April 17, is designed for mobile. It doesn't try to recreate the console experience on phones and tablets. Rather, it captures the core principles of those games and translates them into something suitable for quick play on a touch device.
Nearly everything in Hitman Go is static, with the only movement the point-to-point, turn-based steps of 47 and his adversaries. There are extremely minor animations, like trees slightly swaying, but for all intents and purposes, this is a board game representation of murder most silent.
There is no text, and the story is told simply through ambient characters. Gardeners in the yard of a mansion or partygoers at a fancy estate don't interact with the scene, but they help set the stage.
The gameplay starts very simple, with basic tutorial style puzzles. More mechanics and nuances are layered on quickly, and it becomes clear through instructive trial and error what must be done to accomplish the mission.
Each assassination is set up in a number of different stages culminating with the execution of the mark. Earlier levels in a "box" (carrying the board game metaphor forward) involve sneaking to the exit point.
Each new box is unlocked by earning a specified number of emblems. These are awarded for completing stages and accomplishing extra tasks like securing a briefcase, getting to the exit without killing, and more.
In later levels, weapon pickups enhance the options, but these are single use and are consumed immediately upon collection. Agent 47's trademark silverballers can execute adjacent enemies that would otherwise kill you. Sniper rifles allow long-range assassination.
Costumes are also found in some levels. These make it so that like-colored enemies don't notice you.
As an added bonus for fans, Hitman Go contains the level Curtains Down from Hitman: Blood Money. Curtains Down has been fully reimagined with elements fans of that game will find familiar.
In my brief time with Hitman Go, it felt like a mobile version of a AAA game done right. Square Enix has stumbled with its tablet ports in recent years (see our review of Deus Ex: The Fall), but Hitman Go approaches the format by playing to its strengths. This is one I'm looking forward to.