Paris. Italy. Morocco. Over the course of several months, someone has been playing a game in the world of Agent 47. A puppet-master has been pulling strings, planting the seeds of an elaborate plot as 47 was manoeuvred towards eliminating obstacles and people for a shadow client whose connections run deeper than one would think.
And what a game it has been so far. The idea behind Hitman adopting a more episodic approach may have been a controversial idea at first, but IO Interactive have gone above and beyond with their reboot, crafting a new entry in the series that has made its mark as the definitive version of Hitman to date. And the season finale of Hitman is a quiet yet fitting cliffhanger towards the revived future of 47.
The beauty of Hitman this year has been that every level on offer has had something to offer. A defining trait, that gave each mission a unique flavour. Paris had intrigue, Sapienza had a surprising amount of depth and Colorado felt like the purest version of Hitman to date. But Hokkaido? An exclusive mountain retreat hospital that happens to be a fierce blend of modern and classical ideas within its architecture has something else entirely: Poetic opportunities.
By now, IO Interactive has mastered stage design in Hitman. Hokkaido is a more constricted level, one with winding turns and claustrophobic passages the deeper you dig into it. There’s a facade above the sterile and technological wonder on the mountain, with the stage itself proving to be a character on its own.
But scratch deeper below that surface, and you’ll find yourself eliminating a pair of targets with ruthless efficiency that complements their crimes and histories. It’s clever stuff, with episode 6 having some of my favourite opportunities in the franchise so far. Maybe you want to see just how deadly a yoga session can really be. Maybe you want to remind your mark that smoking does kill.
Fiddle with the Kai matrix that runs the hospital and your unlucky target will soon discover that there’s a homicidal ghost in the machine, or you can take things a step further by roping in a doctor whose personal history crosses with his patient and results in a circle being closed. Agent 47 is the great pretender, an assassin who moves through multiple disguises in this small yet deep level that strips him of any of his usual tools and has 47 rely purely on a skill set built up over years of training.
But it’s a fantastic reflection on the community who have been supporting Hitman since day one, as months of play finally pay off. Episode 6 is a quiet marvel, but an amazing chapter nonetheless. And as the sum of all its parts, IO Interactive have gone above and beyond with their episodic vision. 2016 has given birth to not only the best Hitman game ever made, but also one of the strongest contenders for the game of the year.
And I can’t wait to see what the second season has in store for 47.