A beautifully detailed sandbox. Hundreds of NPCs milling about the place. A single assassin, plotting mayhem and murder. What could possibly go wrong? Surprisingly, lots! IO Interactive’s Hitman has always been a wonderfully intricate collection of stages within which to plot out a few assassinations, emphasising cunning, stealth, and creativity to get the job done.
For many players who have notched up plenty of time within the world of assassination, they’ll be effortlessly gliding through the signature motions of the series. Working their way through disguises, watching plot points unfold, and finding that perfect moment to strike. If all the buzz over Hitman 3 has you eager to try the game out in an otherwise dry first quarter of game releases, Hitman might also be a touch overwhelming.
Unless you really get to grips with the game through its splendid tutorials, the skill ceiling can seem incredibly high. Cocking up results in heavy penalties, and the urge to be perfect can be all-consuming. After almost five years with this particular incarnation of Hitman, here’s my advice: Don’t be afraid to go tits up in a mission.
Unless you’re playing on the highest difficulty tier, Hitman is a surprisingly forgiving game depending on the severity of your actions. Believe it or not, it’s not the end of the world if someone catches you busting a nearby security guard over the head with a wrench or you wander into an area where you’re definitely not supposed to be. You can scarper and return to the scene of the crime in a different guise. Or you can just remove any witnesses with a bullet to the noggin.
While Hitman wants you to only murder people who happen to be part of a thoroughly naughty clique within the 1% of the planet’s richest bastards, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty in the early parts of the game. Remove obstacles in your way, whether it be items or people, with extreme prejudice. Be the most prolific serial killer in history since Ted Bundy tried to charm his way out of a courtroom assembled to hear his ghastly crimes.
You don’t need to be perfect from day one, because unlocking those Silent Assassin achievements takes time, effort, and a thorough understanding of the world around you. Hitman games also track your progress and regularly reward you with new gear, starting locations, and even shortcuts to your target to help you clear a stage within mere minutes.
I was discussing the game with Brad (who has just dipped his feet into Hitman), and I realised that IOI has created a reverse sandbox roguelike essentially: The bosses are piss-easy to dispose of, but the minions will wreck your crap if you get on the wrong side of them. There’s a certain joy to be found in Hitman and its sequels, within those failed runs though, learning experiences which players should savour and use to eventually become stealthy forces of nature that can move unseen through the shadows.
And getting there just happens to be an absurd amount of fun that captures the essence of Hitman: A serious game, with absolutely silly chances to smack someone in the face with a deadly bran muffin.
Last Updated: January 21, 2021