Game review: Hitman Go for Win Phone

Hitman Go needed time to grow on me, and for the first two “boxes” I was pretty bored with it. But the game keeps adding new ideas and raising the challenge until it becomes a fun sort of puzzler that crosses chess with assassination.

Even at the start, each level is a visual treat, being designed to look like a board game with little plastic figures representing Agent 47, his marks, random guards, and even occasional bystanders. Each collection of levels is part of a box set, and given how each section is relatively small, I can almost see this game fitting into a real life box.

Given how pretty the designs are, it’s a shame that the game is so stingy about camera control. It is possible to nudge the camera a bit to get a slightly different angle or to zoom out, but that’s about it. This makes it harder to appreciate all the little details going on around the levels, which is a real shame when I wanted to look at some of the background antics. One airport level in particular had humorous depictions of baggage handlers using some…unorthodox packing methods. I wanted to zoom in on that, and it’s a bummer that I couldn’t.

Worse, sometimes it would be nice to rotate the camera to observe the movements of guards, and the only way to do that was to zoom out. This presented its own problems. First, just pinching to zoom might require doing the gesture four or five times before the game recognized it and did what I wanted. Then once I got the screen zoomed out, actually moving Agent 47 became more fiddly, and again might need four or five swipes to get him to move. It’s not life threatening, unless the game randomly decides my stroke to the left was really up and sends my poor agent into a guard I was trying to avoid. But it did happen frequently enough to be annoying.

Setting that aside, once the game started adding more complex guard types and giving more routes to move along, I had quite a bit of fun trying to sort out what moves the game wanted, and in what order. Sometimes a patrol pattern doesn’t reveal an obvious weakness until you’ve banged your head against it for a few attempts. Then once you see a solution the rest of the level is much easier to dismantle.

Every level has 3 objectives, though they aren’t exactly mandatory to complete. You can do one on one pass and then do the other two in a second run if you like, and I liked that it didn’t demand perfection. Sometimes a level might task you to complete it in under a certain number of moves, and those could end up being the most tricky for me. But they were also the most satisfying when I finally worked out a solution.

There is a catch to this, however. Each objective gives one point, and later box sets have a certain point cost to unlock. This initially annoyed me, but after I went back and got enough points to unlock the next set, generally speaking the rest were easier to “buy” without having to do all of the objectives. I only had to do enough to unlock the next box, and that was two objectives per level on average.

After playing through several levels where the point is just to reach a goal, Agent 47 closes in on assassination targets who are dressed in red, and there’s a little bit of variety in these assignments. Some might require you to sneak up on them and knock them out just like their guards, but others will require using a sniper rifle or some trick to reach them. One theater level had a mark parked under a chandelier, and I had to unlock a door leading out to a balcony with a gun, allowing me to shoot the chandelier support and bring the whole thing down on his fragile little head.

If there’s any weak points in the game, it’s in the music, which is…it’s not bad, but aside from the rendition of Ave Maria used during the assassination levels, I’d be hard pressed to recall the other tune used. It’s just there, not worth noting, except perhaps in a nit-picky review. Which is…right, let’s move on.

There is a strange bit of freezing and lag sometimes, possibly due to this being a Unity engine game, but unlike most Unity titles I’ve seen lag on, it’s not really all that harmful for a game like this. I can’t blame lag for my frequent deaths, as the guard was just standing there the whole time before I moved Agent 47 the wrong way. Still, it’s something else I thought I should mention.

Overall, I think it’s a good game, and one that’s totally worth the 4.99 I paid for it. There’s only 6 box sets in the game, and two of them are only 8 levels long. But it’s still enough content for a few days of binge playing, and good for several weeks if you’re only playing in smaller doses in bank lines and the like. The later levels are tricky but not unfair, and I can see replaying the whole game over once I’ve had enough time to forget the solutions.

I give Hitman Go 4 stars and recommend it to fans of puzzle games. While I reviewed this on the Windows Phone version, I’ve also seen it’s been recently released on PS Vita, and it’s obviously already available for iOS and Android. So whatever your preferred flavor of mobile diversion is, you can find a copy if killing time by killing toy figures tickles your fancy.