Thursday, April 28, 2016

From Stealth to Puzzler, Hitman Strikes the Mark - The Hitman Go: Definitive Edition Take Your Time Review

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Quick Note: The puzzles are simple, yet entertaining, making them perfect for puzzle game players and newbies alike. The transition from 3rd person action/stealth to puzzle gameplay is seamless, and fits the franchise perfectly. Whether you regularly play puzzle games or are brand new to them, you're going to have a great time with Hitman Go: Definitive Edition.

The transition from console platforms to mobile is often not pretty. There are countless games that are meant to be played on a TV with a controller, and even though some of them work well enough, such as the numerous Final Fantasy games, the games just feel off. When Square Enix announced the move for the Hitman franchise to hit mobile platforms, it was a hard pill for many gamers to swallow. However, the game has been successful on mobile platforms, and now Square Enix has triumphantly brought the puzzler to consoles.
Hitman Go brings the assassination franchise from its 3rd-person action/stealth roots to a 2D, puzzle format. Rather than sneaking around full 3D levels, picking and choosing the correct method to take out your target, you will be slowly moving your Agent 47 piece across a 2D game board, knocking down enemy pieces to reach the end of the stage. 
 
Each board holds between 8 and 15 puzzles, each with three separate objectives.

The game starts out simple enough, with Agent 47 on the game board with a few easy enemies that don't move. Each turn consists Agent 47 moving one space and then the enemies reacting, whether that means moving to knock over Agent 47 because he's in their field of view or following their AI behavior, such as turning to face the opposite direction. This simple gameplay loop is repeated hundreds of times throughout the game and is one of the reasons for the game being so accessible to every type of gamer. 

Each stage has one specific objective that must be completed in order to move onto the next. Many of the different puzzles are aimed at simply getting to the end, but there are a few that have major marks that must be taken out in order to complete. 

Expect to get knocked down quite a bit as each new enemy is added to the mix.

On top of these main objectives, there are two extra that are optional, but add variety to the levels themselves. These optional objectives include beating the stage under a specific number of moves or not killing any of the enemies. These objectives help add some new challenges to puzzles you've already beaten and usually force you to play the level in a completely different manner than you did on your first play through, which is a testament to the game's puzzle design. The game also requires a specific number of objectives be completed before unlocking the next game board, so you won't want to ignore these extra puzzles forever before needing to take on at least a few of them. 

Over the coarse of the game Agent 47 is met with newer enemies that have more complex capabilities, such as guards that have dogs and marksmen with sniper rifles. These added challenges, on top of more complex game board layouts, force you to think more critically about how to reach the objective, and require Agent 47 to tap into his tool set, including his very own sniper rifle and dual pistols. The game effortlessly layers each of these mechanics in a way that is simple, but also fun. I never once felt overwhelmed by the new mechanics, yet at the same time I never felt bored because the levels were too easy. It's an excellent balance that is hard to obtain in games, especially puzzle games, which tend to have an exponential difficulty element to them.

Tools, like the sniper rifle, are extremely satisfying to use and also add a new layer to the level of complexity in the puzzle design.

The puzzle design of Hitman Go is what makes the game so appealing. I'm not a puzzle game player; I never have been. I get way too frustrated when I hit a stumbling block, and though it's now easier than ever t find the solution to various games, there really isn't a point if the main reason for playing the game is to solve the puzzles themselves. Hitman Go is designed for players just like myself. Sure, there are a few stumpers, but overall the game is built around layering new mechanics without throwing the player for a loop. The extra objectives are typically the more difficult challenges to take on, but even these are not overly arduous. I am totally enthused by this, though some looking for a mental challenge may not be excited by the middle of the road difficulty. 

Overall Hitman Go: Definitive Edition is a great puzzle game that adapts the Hitman franchise better than any could have expected. With a strong set of over 80 puzzles, each with three separate objectives, and a difficulty curve that is welcoming to most, the game is great on console and amazing on Vita. If you're a fan of passive puzzle games or the Hitman franchise, I highly recommend picking it up. If you're looking for a hardcore challenge to test your mental mettle, this may not be the best game for you. 

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