Game essentials: Hitman GO
We take a closer look at the App Store’s must-play games.
Strategic Puzzles in Diorama
They say assassination is a messy business, but in Hitman GO it’s anything but. Like Lara Croft GO, this is a focused and fresh take on a popular series which pares the Hitman world down to its very essence. As the ruthless Agent 47, you need to be precise, careful and disciplined to take out your mark.
If you’re a bit squeamish at the thought of playing as a contract killer, you can think of it more as an elaborate version of chess. In fact, it’s deliberately set up like an artisan board game: the world select screen displays each new location as an expensive-looking box, while characters are plastic figurines that move as if they’re being carried by an invisible hand.
The boards themselves are stunning: lavish ornaments that range from expansive villas (complete with their own tennis courts) to beachside motels and plush airport lounges, each piece seemingly assembled and placed by hand.
Delicate use of ambient sound adds mood, while natural lighting makes everything feel all the more tangible – as if you could reach into the screen and grab it.
But Hitman GO is more than just a handsome face. If it looks like a board game, it runs like a mechanical toy, with every moving part set in a fixed routine. For a Hitman game, that obviously means security guards of various kinds. Some will stay in one place, glaring at the space immediately in front of them or rotating between two positions, while others will march along until they reach a junction, turning sharply at right angles before resuming their patrol.
Some even have dogs, which will spot you from further away and tail you tirelessly unless you can find a way to lose them. And occasionally you’ll encounter some that come in pairs, covering two sight lines at once. As with Lara Croft GO, you’ll need to think ahead to avoid detection if 47 is to preserve his reputation as the silent assassin.
Luckily, you can sometimes throw a spanner in the works – or rather, a rock or a can – to cause a disruption. Tap an empty space and the sound will alert nearby guards, leaving vital gaps in their routine for you to squeeze through.
On some stages you have the option to go loud with single-use weapons – from sniper rifles to remove distant threats, to 47’s signature silverballer pistols, which can be fired instantly in two directions.
The game keeps introducing new tricks and stage hazards to factor into your plans. Disguises leave you incognito up to the moment you move into a guard’s space and take them out. Locked doors require keys that lie down the most dangerous paths.
If 47’s path to the exit wasn’t tense or tricky enough for you, you’ve got bonus objectives to consider. You won’t always be able to complete them all at once: some stages might ask you to kill all guards and then take the pacifist approach on your next attempt. Often you’ll need to find the most efficient approach, finishing a stage within a given number of turns.
Hints can let you pass stages you’re really struggling with, but these exquisite dioramas will turn a dull grey to discourage you from overusing them.
Levels based on the series’ best-known stages show just how successfully GO streamlines the Hitman formula. Like the note-perfect performance of Ave Maria that plays when you encounter your primary targets (aptly dressed in blood-red garb), this bold, beautiful rendition has been executed to perfection.