The conclusion to the first season of IO Interactive’s Hitman is finally at hand. It has been a bumpy road along the way, with online connectivity issues and a couple of missions that failed to impress structurally, but there’s still a lot to love in this neatly-developed package. Whether it’s the comical ways to eliminate your foes or the living and breathing world that was created around Agent 47, Hitman does plenty right. While penultimate episode had its moments and tried a few new things from a story perspective, it was ultimately a bit of a letdown. This is where the finale comes into play as IO Interactive is looking to impress players by dazzling them with yet another exotic location, but this time spreading even more opportunities and creative outlets to take care of the targets in the varied sandbox.
The sixth episode of Hitman brings our favorite bald protagonist to the northern island of Japan where he’s tasked with killing a member of the Board of Directors at the ICA, Erich Soders and his rather fashionable lawyer, Yuki Yamazaki. It would seem Solders has a rare health condition called Situs Inversus, and in order to survive, has betrayed the ICA to get the proper treatment needed (namely a heart transplant). It’s Agent 47’s job to eliminate him and the lawyer who handles Providence’s legal work to hopefully dig deeper into the mysteriously anonymous employer from the past five episodes. This private health center is one of the stronger locations in Hitman, not necessarily besting the luxurious Sapienza, but does a good job varying up a relatively closed off location. Players will immediately be put into unfamiliar territory as smuggling anything, which includes weapons and secondary items, is entirely prohibited, so you’ll have to find new and creative ways to distract guards rather than throwing a coin in the corner. Each room in the hospital is based on the individual’s standings, meaning the electronic lock on each door will only open up for specific individuals. For example, a chef has limited flexibility, whereas a scientist has far more open reign for where to go. It’s a good way to encourage players to try on all types of clothes and approach each situation differently.
After the penultimate episode contained four targets, it does somewhat feel like a downgrade to go back down to two, but it’s made up for in the opportunities. Colorado was a large open area to move through, but this issue was the limited NPC diversity as it was made up of almost all militia and security with little personality. That’s the complete opposite with Hokkaido as there are various encounters to partake in, and random individuals to follow around. An example would be the drunk Texan who is mostly useless, but provides for some comical dialogue wherever he goes. At the same time, he unintentionally aids the player with information regarding where specific doors lead and which are off limits. It’s thanks to the well-designed and interconnected map that going to and fro targets has never been easier. In terms of the actual ways to kill, Soders only has a couple of entertaining executions as he’s strapped to an operating table for the entirety of the mission, but Yuki certain provides a plethora of opportunities as she moves around a lot and sees most of the hospital. Overall, despite one of the targets being immobile, Hokkaido somehow establishes far more intriguing methods thanks to the varied and interwoven location.
While the gameplay is high grade, in terms of the narrative, things couldn’t be worse. While the story has been vague throughout the entirety of the season, the last two episodes were moving towards a captivating revelation. Unfortunately, the finale is unsatisfying, to say the least. There’s no definitive conclusion, but rather one of the worst setups to a second season. It’s not like there are any characters outside of Diana, Agent 47 and this mysterious manipulator who are of any importance to begin with, but how it’s handled is beyond disappointing. When you begin to slowly put the pieces together and close in on a mystery, you’d expect some sort of climatic conclusion, but what we get is basically nothing. Now granted, Hitman has never been about story, but how Hokkaido ends just opens up far more questions than it answers.
For a season finale, Hokkaido is exceptionally crafted. While the idea of being restricted to an Asian resort may give you flashbacks of the underwhelming Bangkok episode, the sixth episode somehow is able to blend all the best elements of the Hitman franchise into one compelling mission. Not only is the atmosphere of this luscious location rivaling that of Sapienza, but the world is teeming with possibilities thanks to the interwoven structure. The only disappointment is on the story side of things, as the plot is nothing short of anti-climactic, despite slowly being unraveled over the last couple of episodes. With that said, the gameplay is what matters most and it’s at its highest in Hokkaido thanks to the plentiful opportunities and immaculately designed map layout. Despite the story going basically nowhere, Hokkaido concludes the first season with one of the more memorable missions in the franchise.