Instead of releasing Hitman as a self-contained project, Danish developer IO Interactive is bringing the game out via the installment plan. Episode 1 begins with Agent 47’s recruitment into a shadowy organization of assassins called the International Contract Agency. His handler, Diana Burnwood, guides him through ICA aptitude tests, which also serve as a tutorial for players.
The objective for each mission is to assassinate a target, but Agent 47 can’t simply rush in with gun in hand. Hitman is a stealth game in which the protagonist must infiltrate the target’s environment. Doing so requires subduing bodyguards and donning the outfit of one of them. Agent 47 then can access other areas close to the target and uncover “Opportunities” that unlock paths to an assassination.
On one level, Agent 47 must eliminate spymasters Viktor Novikov and Dalia Margolis at a Paris fashion show. This pair use the models to infiltrate the ranks of the rich and powerful, learn their secrets and then sell that information on the black market.
Once Agent 47 crashes their party, he can uncover ways to dispatch Novikov and Margolis. In one scenario, he can disguise himself as a top model and poison their drinks. In another, he can plant a bomb in a blogger’s camera and make it explode near one or both of them.
Each kill must be surreptitious, or at the very least appear accidental. Then Agent 47 can escape from the level he’s on. If, however, the mark is killed openly, the assassination can trigger a ruckus that makes escape difficult or impossible.
To pull off Agent 47’s assassinations, players must go through a lot of trial and error as they learn how to negotiate the challenges on each level without mistakes. Discovering the multiple paths to mission success is part of the fun.