Hitman: Episode 6 Review – Silverballers and Sushi

Square Enix
Square Enix /

Seven months and six episodes later, Agent 47 takes to the field one last time in this year’s season of Hitman.

Developers: IO Interactive

Publisher: Square Enix

Platform: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One, PC

Release Date: October 31st, 2016

I’ve had something of a rocky experience with Hitman up till now. I’ve really enjoyed some of the game’s environmental variety and approach to sandbox gameplay during select episodes, but not without being underwhelmed and outright frustrated by its odd design choices and flimsy storytelling. Episode 6, “Hokkaido”, certainly represents one of the better offerings of this season, but it fails to raise the bar for what I’ve come to expect from the formula, and doesn’t leave the series in a strong place going forward with regards to the story.

In a move that feels appropriate considering that this is Hitman’s final major installment this year, Episode 6 strips Agent 47 of all of his crutches, including his clothes, dropping the poor man into the field with nothing but a kimono robe for protection. This immediately throws players out of their comfort zone, at least initially, by forcing them to adopt a patient, methodical approach that Hitman has always been trying to explicitly encourage. Throughout my entire playthrough, I used a weapon (a wrench) just once, and it’s a testament to IO Interactive’s superb level design that I hadn’t even realized it until the stats showed up at the end.

Square Enix /

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This iteration of Hitman has always felt somewhat clinical in its design and aesthetic style, so the setting of a private medical facility in Japan actually makes perfect sense. While the environments of Hokkaido aren’t as rich in detail or ambience as previous locales like Italy or Morocco, it makes up for it in terms of situational diversity. One minute you might be enjoying the view from your private bedroom, the next you’re performing yoga among hot springs, and before you know it, you’re deep within the legally dubious confines of a high tech medical lab.

The many floors, buildings and landscapes network together like a disbarred architect’s fever dream, and exploring each micro-locale is genuinely entertaining in itself, which is what you want from a game that thrives on the replay value of its missions. If any part of the design feels lazy, it’s the additions to the soundtrack, whereby the instantly recognizable refrains synonymous with Japanese culture have been thrown in without much thought for aural cohesion.

Square Enix /

The weakest link with this season finale is, once again, the story, which peters out with a hopelessly weak cliffhanger…

Compared to the extensive to-do list in Colorado, Episode 6 once again narrows the focus to just two targets in Japan, with no extra objectives thrown in for good measure.  After seeing how IO Interactive were able to use these bonus tasks to develop the narrative context of past assignments, it’s disappointing to see that this wasn’t capitalized upon for a map as expansive and labyrinthian as Hokkaido.

That being the case, the assassination opportunities have never been better in Episode 6. I haven’t even been able to fulfill them all yet, but there are some deeply disturbing and uniquely inventive scenarios that Agent 47 can find himself in, one of which culminates in a genuinely horrific elimination.

Square Enix /

The weakest link with this season finale is, once again, the story, which peters out with a hopelessly weak cliffhanger that asks more questions without bothering to answer any of the already existing ones. This final cutscene really puts the last nail in the coffin for Hitman’s narrative, which can now be determinedly classified as an unengaging, underdeveloped story marred by overly abstract dialogue and an inability to foster any sense of player investment.

What really adds salt to the wound is that the previous episode in Colorado really looked like it was building towards something, but the antagonist that has been slowly built up for this entire series doesn’t even make an appearance. If this was designed to get me excited for Hitman’s second season, it failed on all accounts.

7.5. Hitman ends with an episode that is ironically representative of the season as a whole; wherein the unaffecting story fails to provide a strong foundation for the intelligent mission design and creative gameplay.. IO Interactive. . Hitman: Episode 6 - Hokkaido

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.