For a hit to go off successfully, assassins need to work with clockwork efficiency. Hitman Go: Definitive Edition, the PlayStation 4 and Vita port of Square Enix Montreal's mobile spin-off, takes that idea literally, polishing the shiny scalp of cold-blooded killer Agent 47 like it's made of resin – because, well, in this interpretation of the murder simulation, it actually is.
While the board game inspirations are obvious here, this tasty looking tie-in actually shares more in common with slide puzzles. You control the series' suited slap head around a grid, with each move that you make sparking a reaction from your opposition. Green coloured guards will pirouette 180-degrees, while yellow men will walk along a pre-determined axis; blue goons will remain static, waiting for you to pop into their view.
You move between nodes, with your objective being to reach a specific end point. However, if you move into a space that's directly in front of an enemy, they'll knock you off the board; surprise them, of course, and you'll have the upper-hand. The game, then, has you experimenting with the release's very mechanical rules to reach your objective; if you move up and down enough times, you may find your foe's exactly where you want him.
But while things start out simple, they quickly get more complex. Rocks and tin cans allow you to push and pull opponents into different patterns, while trap doors allow you to scale large distances in a single move. The game never feels taxing in the way a title like The Witness does, but the developer gets more than enough mileage out of the concept to keep things feeling fresh from chapter-to-chapter.
And, this being the Definitive Edition, there's quite a lot here to work your way through. There are seven chapters in total, the bulk of which comprise of 15 levels apiece. Within these stages are sub-objectives, too, which task you with rescuing briefcases or completing a level in a certain number of moves. As is an unwritten law in the mobile space these days, chapters are gated based upon how many of these tasks you've completed, so you'll need to play some stages several times over in order to unlock the next batch.
The problem is that the difficulty takes a little while to truly ramp up, and you'll breeze through the first few chapters without much resistance at all. Moreover, when you do feel impeded, the game can feel a little too trial-and-error; some solutions are fixed, and thus you're left puzzling out the exact path that the title wants you to take, rather than really doing any experimentation of your own. These aren't enormous niggles, but they're worth noting.
Fortunately, the presentation is sublime. Each stage is presented as a uniquely rendered diorama, sometimes furnished with props such as biplanes and swimming pools. A combination of great image quality and really soft lighting helps give the release an elegance that suggests this is high-brow murder – it's a Vodka Martini rather than a Coors Light. There's some really nice music, too – particularly the operatic motifs that complement "hit" missions where you must off a designated target.
And it's all made the transition to the PS4 – the version that we tested for the purposes of this review – with nary a blemish to its tuxedo. We did have very minor issues with the d-pad not moving us in exactly the direction that we expected on a handful of stages, but using the analogue stick instead rectified this issue. The touch pad is also a very viable option if you like.
Blockbuster brands like Hitman seldom make the transition to mobile successfully, but Hitman Go: Definitive Edition is a well-presented puzzler that we can get behind. Despite being respectful of the source material, its slide puzzle spin on the series is strongly executed – even if it can feel a teensy bit too rigid at times. This port's perhaps a little pricey, but with plenty of content and cross-buy on the cards, we'd recommend moving in and pulling the trigger if you've got the appetite for a little assassination.