Now *this* is a game with style. When tasked with shrinking down the open-ended, 3D sandbox environments associated with the Hitman franchise to better fit mobile devices, Square Enix Montreal adopted a striking board game aesthetic. Each environment is laid out as a simple, interconnected grid, and character pieces animate as if they are being lifted up and plopped down by an invisible hand. Along with this game's muted sound effects and subtle, atmospheric score, this game creates a chilling and sterile atmosphere that pairs well with Agent 47, the silent and methodical series protagonist.
Each level tasks you with navigating through treacherous patchworks of guards and making it to the end (or assassinating one of your primary targets) without being detected. Whenever you manage to sneak up behind an enemy, a highly satisfying animation of its piece being slapped off the board by your own will play out. Everything operates in a turn-based manner that pushes you to think several moves ahead in order to avoid being cornered. While this game's difficulty quickly ramps up, it's quick and simple to reset the board and try out a new strategy.
Having played Hitman: Blood Money before this, I often found myself smiling at the various nods Hitman Go makes to mechanics from previous series entries. In order to slip through a level without being noticed, you can pick up rocks and trash cans that are strewn about and throw them to create loud diversions. You can also hop into shrubberies or don disguises to further befuddle your targets' hired goons. Each new gimmick that you're introduced to keeps things fresh and forces you to approach levels in a different way.
It isn't always easy to bring a well-established video game franchise over to smaller, more limited platforms like this. When developers try to directly port over a game that was built for a dedicated video game console to a mobile platform, they often overreach by trying to emulate the console experience as closely as possible. Mapping complex video game controls to simple touch screens is the worst. Does anyone really want to try to play Grand Theft Auto with a cell phone? Hitman Go succeeds by instead focusing on keeping the spirit of the original games alive while creating a new playstyle and aesthetic that is perfectly tailored for mobile devices. I'm definitely looking forward to spending some more time with this.