The team at Square Enix Montreal is no stranger to the world of Hitman, being behind both Hitman Go and the original Hitman: Sniper. They know how to innovate on the concept and do new, creative things with the IP that make them ideal for the mobile player. This is the first time the team has built a Hitman game, without the iconic Agent 47.
Hitman Sniper: The Shadows brings out the core of what made the past mobile titles so exciting and iterated in new and exciting ways. Visually, the game is a treat, capturing an art style that is both striking but scalable, so it can be played on a range of devices and still look good. It feels like a mix of what you could find in the Hitman Go series, while giving a bit more realism to match the more dynamic and extensive gameplay concept.
“Coming from Hitman GO, and then Hitman Sniper, the original, and now going with Hitman Sniper: The Shadows.” Explained senior producer at Square Enix Montreal, Simon Doongoor about the new free-to-play game model “It’s obviously laid out a trail for our affinity to the Hitman franchise. It was just natural to pivot over to that, and we feel it’s a beneficial pivot for the franchise. Just given how free-to-play works, and how content is constantly being added to these types of games, it just fits with what we had imagined for the game.”
As mentioned above, this is one of the first times the Hitman series has gone beyond Agent 47. You will now have a team of six operatives, each with their own unique sets of skills. Series staple Diana Burnwood is still present, and still works as the handler for your team of assassins. The open sandbox feel is also still present, giving you plenty of ways to achieve each objective, all with different points and incentives.
Now activated, your team is responsible for dealing with a new criminal network that is responsible for death, destruction, and crime around the world. It is a simple setup, but one that gives enough incentive to go forth and strike from the shadows. Honestly, the story of the Hitman series has always felt secondary to the sandbox like experience, and thankfully, Hitman Sniper: The Shadows captures this feeling well, even on the limited mobile platform.
Jumping into the experience, and Hitman Sniper: The Shadows feels like the team loves the franchise, and wants to build on that concept. As much as this is an assassination game, it also feels like a puzzle with countless ways to succeed. From the ability to use the environment to hide your kills, to the abilities to take out more complex situations, Hitman Sniper: The Shadows immediately feels like it is cut from the same cloth as the other games in the series.
Even though this is a game in the Hitman franchise, it will have no connection to the console releases. As Doongoor details, “IO Interactive is focused on console development. And on our side, obviously the mobile, and so we’ve had an open dialogue with them back and forth to talk about the creative aspect of Hitman Sniper: The Shadows as well, specifically with the introduction of our new characters that we brought into the world.”
Further expanding on that, he explains, “The World of Assassination is a completely separate universe. Obviously, our universe shares the same DNA and has to fit this DNA of the Hitman universe. Many fans of Hitman franchise will immediately see agents night and stone that have been part of the world of assassination brought over into our universe, but it’s a complete, wholly new IP, universe and storyline. So there’s no connection to The World of Assassination, which is a great opportunity for us to kind of build a universe around the new agents we brought to this game”
This being a Hitman title, there is a vast array of flexibility and replayability for each mission. Just completing your task is never enough to really move on. There is always more you can do, a new way to complete a kill, or even a better way to rack up points as you take down your objectives.
The Agents are a major part of Hitman Sniper: The Shadows, with each agent having abilities that make them uniquely qualified to take on different play styles. Some agents will do better with accidental kills, while others it is all about precision. This makes the game feel very open to experiment, with each contract offering many ways to take it out, and plenty of reasons to dive back in and try a new tactic.
“Hitman Sniper: The Shadows is already a surprisingly deep experience…”
The game is still early, and the team knows this. They want the community to help shape the experience going forward. As Doongoor explains, “It’s just a starting point for us. We’ve iterated a lot with our fan base, our players directly. They’re really helping us pave the way on where we should go next. A lot of the feedback we’ve taken has not only validated our direction, but also given us ideas of where we need to go moving forward. So I would say stay tuned for now.”
Hitman Sniper: The Shadows is already a surprisingly deep experience, featuring a campaign mode, along with a PvP mode where players can compete against each other to help build their reputation. As with any Hitman game, creativity and efficiency are king, and the more unique and stealthy your kills are, the more you will walk away with.
Now available, Hitman Sniper: The Shadows is shaping up to be a very interesting mobile release. Square Enix Montreal knows how to build on mobile, and this game is a testament to that. With a streamlined interface, and plenty of depth should you wish to explore it, for people that demand more assassinations while on transit, Hitman Sniper: The Shadows has you covered.