Hitman Go is an excellent example of a game that takes core elements from a franchise and turns them into something wholly different, while feeling through and through like it belongs. As you solve its puzzles, you feel like you’re making your way towards an assassination target, completely undetected. It’s marvelous how a simple and engaging puzzle game can be nothing like its precursor yet maintain a similar spirit. It’s something that carries over to virtual reality but isn’t helped by it–instead, it makes a poor case for why you should play it in VR at all.
Hitman Go is presented like a board game, where you move an Agent 47 piece around the board, trying not to get caught in an enemy piece’s path. You eliminate enemies like you would pieces in chess while making your way to the marked destination. Each level has three objectives: one is always to slip past the level’s enemies and make it to the end, while the other two can be anything from completing it within a certain number of turns, grabbing an inconveniently placed briefcase, or making it through without killing anyone. Cleaning up every objective often requires you to play through the level more than once, and although not every level is as good as the last, figuring out the solutions is enjoyable enough in most of the levels to make them worth visiting a second or third time.
Hitman Go also does a great job of introducing new concepts as it progresses. New tools that help you get through Agent 47’s covert operations–such as sniper rifles and Agent 47’s signature Silverballers–are brought in, but you’ll also go up against new enemies, typically right when you think you’ve got everything figured out. By taking what you’ve already learned about an enemy and throwing in a new variation with a different set of behaviors, Hitman Go remains engaging throughout.
Unfortunately, VR doesn’t add anything of import to playing Go in VR. You’re sat inside a bland room where the lighting changes on occasion–hardly an interesting addition or reason to play Go in VR. It’s kind of cool being able to get a closer look at certain levels, but it’s in no way impressive. With movement based on your perspective, controls can sometimes be finicky and frustrating, too. You control your piece with the left stick, moving it in the desired direction to slide Agent 47 across the board. However, as you move your piece away from its original position, the directions will change if your perspective stays the same. Moving your piece up now requires you to move the stick diagonally, as that’s how it now appears to you. You can change your perspective by moving your head or sliding the board around with the right stick, but pushing up on the left stick and watching Agent 47 stand still makes the game feel unresponsive. On top of that, there were times when I felt a little bit motion sick after rotating the board close to myself. It was never anything major, but it was definitely noticeable.
Virtual reality requires a commitment: you need to put aside time to put the headset on and cut yourself off from the world. Unfortunately, Hitman Go VR doesn’t provide enough of an escape to make it worth the extra hassle. It’s also a game that works better in short bursts, and VR headsets aren’t always the quickest and most convenient things to jump in and out of. And no matter what device you play it on, whether it be on PC with an Oculus Rift or an Android phone with Gear VR, you have a device that can play the non-VR version of the game, which is almost the exact same experience. Additionally, Hitman Go VR doesn’t offer a non-VR option–if you buy this version, the only place you’ll be playing it in is virtual reality.
Hitman Go VR feels unnecessary. It’s an excellent puzzle game, but it’s already available on a bunch of different platforms where it plays very well; the non-VR versions will be enough to enjoy everything Hitman Go has to offer. Solving its puzzles is as satisfying and enjoyable as eliminating a target without getting detected, but the VR version shouldn’t be your first choice to experience them.