Hitman Go iOS Review: Making Sliding Puzzles Cool Again



Hitman Go is a puzzle game based around the Hitman series that effectively distances the player from all the gruesome bloodshed by turning everyone into game pieces. This way, your kids can play ‘murder’ without all the backlash from the media – yay!

I’m not sure whose idea Hitman Go was, but they deserve a medal. Hitman Go is fun, very detailed, and blossoms an unexpected franchise into new markets.

Hitman Go Gameplay

Hitman Go is the very definition of “casual game” in that all you need to start playing is to download the game. There is no learning curve, no story — outside of a bill that reads ‘kill your mark’ — and no ending cinema.

The gameplay is simple, move your character (Agent 47) across the board to the destination. Do this by swiping your finger. Now you’re an expert, enjoy!

To kill… or let him blow thy enemy’s balls off?

The game is split up into 8 boards, each with its own theme: gym and gardens, airport, Wayne manor. Within each board is anywhere from 7 to 15 missions, and each mission has three objectives for additional stamps. The stamps unlock new boards, but if you play through each board, you won’t have a problem unlocking them all by board 5 — with or without 100% completion.

Not only does each board harbor its own theme, but each board incorporates new elements into the game. These can range from new weapons and enemies to new board mechanics like trap doors and escalators. There’s enough levels to get you comfortable with the added feature and long before you tire of the gameplay, they add a new element. (I actually questioned why this was a Hitman game [at first] as I was 2 boards in before they added guns.)

Part of what makes this game so fun is the challenges. In the first board, the challenges usually consist of something like:

  • Reach your destination
  • Collect the briefcase
  • Use 13 or fewer moves
Challenge: Don’t shoot the man in the blue blazer.

When you’ve completed a level — especially a difficult one — the challenges add intrigue and replayability. They make you pause and think, ‘Wait, I can complete this in 13 moves? Challenge accepted.’

If you complete all 3 challenges for the level a ribbon appears and one of the most gratifying sound effects plays. It’s very subtle, but sounds like someone is smoothing out a crumpled origami paper. I’m not usually an auditory person, but I can feel a rush of dopamine every time it plays — so crispy and smooth. I think it’s amplified due to the fact that Hitman Go is largely a silent game, but I digress.

Hitman Go Art Design & Genre

It’s worth mentioning the art design, if only to draw attention to the amount of detail crammed into this game. Most levels have a wide-ranged setting with some humor and personality thrown into the mix. For instance, on one of the airplane levels, there’s a man riding atop baggage like a horse on the second floor. It has no impact on the gameplay, but it adds to the atmosphere; it reminds you that you’re a hitman and you do things incognito so these regular layabouts don’t notice.

You actually play topside, but that didn’t stop them from adding lower levels.

Others, like the image featured above, help articulate where you are, i.e. an upper floor of a hotel. Without those indicators, it would just look like an isolated box in the middle of nowhere — still fun, but less personality.

It’s these kind of details that help demonstrate the amount of care that went into this game. In anyone else’s hands, this could’ve been a cash-grab — a throwaway to bank off the franchise — but with Hitman Go, the franchise successfully branches into another genre.

IO Interactive could teach other gaming developers a thing or two about how to change genres successfully. I mean gaming developers used to do this often (see Legend of Zelda 2 or Sub-Zero Mythologies or Mario [insert sport here]), but those are often met with mixed reception and playing the numbers game (ex. Megaman 10) sells. IO Interactive‘s approach to Hitman however, works because even in the new genre, the spirit of the franchise is kept intact; the idea of observing enemy patterns for a stealth mission translates handsomely to an iOS board game.

Conclusion: Hitman Go is a Sliding Puzzle

I’ve already sung my praises of Hitman Go, if you came for a recommendation, you got one. But what if you’ve never heard of Hitman before? What if you like stealth and action shoot-em-up games, would this suffice? And if you have played Hitman, would you enjoy this iteration?

Rather than ask those questions, consider the sliding puzzle:

This was the closest thing I could find… and figured Jeff would be happy.

Essentially, IO Interactive has remade the classic slider puzzle for a new era. If you want to know if you’ll enjoy Hitman Go, simply ask yourself if you enjoy slider puzzles. If you do, then this is definitely the game for you.

For more iOS reviews, visit Derek Hobson’s Article Archive

4 Comments on Hitman Go iOS Review: Making Sliding Puzzles Cool Again

  1. I do love Batgirl! And sliding puzzles. And I’ve always wanted to play a Hitman game. There’s also a really good Cracked podcast about iOS games and how the auditory awards actually do hit the dopamine and stuff in your brain. Very interesting. Good stuff buddy!

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