The latest Hitman title is the first major release to employ the episodic strategy, which will be used in titles like the upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake.
It’s an obvious way to squeeze more money out of gamers, but if it works then consumers are unlikely to bat an eye at the business model. So far, there’s no clear verdict as to whether or not the strategy has been a success and Hitman buyers have voiced both positive and negative reviews of the episodic structure. That’s why it’s so critically important that developers pay attention to the comments made by gamers who purchase this Hitman title.
I bought the full release, which cost me the price of a standard game, but IO Interactive and Square Enix gave consumers the option to purchase the “Intro Pack” for $15, which requires gamers spend an additional $10 per episode on the subsequent releases. That model is slightly more expensive, but it makes the six weeks in between episodes a bit more bearable and gives you the ability to opt-out of being invested in the full game.
Personally, the full-price paid upfront makes me feel a bit cheated, especially considering I want to progress the storyline and am unable to do so. That said, the extremely intricate levels, challenges and five-stage hits could easily keep you entertained if you’re an in-depth gamer who’s into that sort of thing.
Here’s where the model falls flat, though. The “complete” game will take seven months to be released, thus stringing along gamers for extra cost and giving them sandbox play that will only satiate certain palates. The initial episode comes with extremely long load times and offers very little story-wise, which could easily turn potential buyers away. Conversely, the time in-between episodes gives the developers a chance to make adjustments and perfect the product. It’s touch-and-go, experimental and immersive, but if done right it could offer a way for small studios to thrive alongside the big boys.
The second stage of the game proved to give me almost everything I wanted from the first. I know it’s not a story-driven title, but it could possibly help in some way… or maybe that’s just me being picky. The expansive map, dizzying array of ways to accomplish your task and explosive golf ball were brilliant. I guess the only thing I really want from the game is to hear people speaking other languages.
In the meantime, have fun exploring hundreds of ways to assassinate your targets as the least inconspicuous assassin of all time.