Word/Puzzle Game of the Year 201409 Dec 2014 0
The Puzzle Game of the Year isn't just the slickest puzzle experience of 2014 -- it's also the finest premium mobile game put out by a major publisher all year.
Earlier this year I said that Hitman GO was cool, and --I have to stress this-- I wasn't using "cool" in the weapons-free way that my generation usually does, flipping it around casually like it was the only adjective going.
I meant that Hitman GO is cool. It's the puzzle game that other puzzle games have posters of on their bedroom walls. It's so effortlessly self-assured and beguilingly attractive, with a near-photorealistic tilt-shifted visual style and a finger-snap-inducing bebop soundtrack that is genuinely new and fresh.
Once you've actually started playing it, you find that it's not all surface appeal. Set loosely in the universe of the mysterious assassin Agent 47 of console and PC fame, Hitman GO asks you to facilitate the title character's wetwork by navigating Rube Goldberg machine mazes filled with witnesses, security guards, and trapdoors. There were dozens of excellent puzzles to solve at launch, and Square just keeps adding more with updates.
The game is a knowing wink at its own origins: the famously sanguine series doesn't spill one drop of visible blood in the neat wood-and-plastic world of GO. Hitman GO is more restrained --more elegant-- than its console predecessor, which has fallen into an icky intersection between trying-too-hard and does-your-mother-know-you-do-this?
Beyond the quality of the product, Hitman is a big W for paid games, which didn't have a great showing this year -- at least as far as big publishers were concerned. With EA leading the charge off the cliff into the free-to-play underworld, Square Enix's Hitman: GO is a downright old-timey one-off exchange of hard cash for game content. Squeenix (who we've thrown more than a few spitballs at over the years here) deserve kudos for ignoring the horde of "monetisation strategists" and other fiends who were no doubt telling them that they were crazy for not making a freemium game.
While it's certainly too cool to care about any of this, Hitman GO is the year's most complete package of aesthetics, experience, and fun gameplay.
Honourable Mention: Monument Valley, Threes, Rules, Perfect Paths
To see all of the games recognised in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2014 Awards, visit the 2014 Awards Index page.