Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
When it was announced that the new Hitman would be released one level at a time, the response was confusion or worry. Now that its first season is complete however, we know that it was a success. More developers should follow suit.
It’s impressive, first of all, that the levels were released to a steady rhythm. Each is larger, more detailed and more complex than the levels in any previous Hitman game, but there were none of the delays that mar other episodic games.
It allowed the developers an excuse to deepen those levels between major releases, adding new missions, time-limited Elusive Targets, and other bonus content to each one post-release. Best of all, it allowed – forced, maybe – players to spend more time appreciating all the detail and extra content. Hitman is a game which reveals itself to you in layers, as you revisit locations again and again to find new ways of taking out your targets. Not having the option to move on, to reward yourself with narrative progress, encourages you to hang around and play more with what you have. You’ll enjoy Hitman all the more for it.
Io Interactive are already working on a second season of levels for Hitman, which is now a fabulously exciting prospect. They’ve built the tools, they’ve learnt how to work with the tools, and now rather than start over on a whole new game they get to apply what they’ve learned to what they’ve already got. It feels like the perfect marriage of game and release structure – but it’s hard not to wish we lived in a world where new Dishonored levels were being released monthly.