We are gathered here to today to mourn a gaming legacy. A franchise that has spanned consoles, decades and generations of gamers. What makes this loss even more harrowing than it ought to be, was the valiant and masterful effort that it showed fighting against a terrible marketing campaign, confusing messaging and episodic content. By producing perhaps the greatest culmination of gameplay, tone and level design of last year, the developers proved everyone wrong and made a game people were desperate for more of.
Today we say goodbye to Hitman and IO Interactive. I hope you’re happy Square Enix.
I’ll always remember our time together on the sun-soaked streets of Sapienza. How we laughed as we broke into our neighbours' apartment and threw him out the window to his death before stealing his clothes and going to work for him. I remember with excitement discovering just how many points we could lose simply by trying to eradicate the map of anyone without a barcode. It was -950,000. We spent so much time together in that beachfront town, all the while not even realising what treasure lay waiting in the clock tower, or under the church or over on the island. Every time we dropped into that world, dressed as Mr Worldwide himself, I had little to no idea what I wanted to do, 20 minutes later I’d have half the island chasing me as I dragged the costume off of the jester I had just lacerated with a katana. We even learned how to slip through the entire town undetected, carrying out our task and leaving, wearing only our favourite suit.
How could I forget the time we spent in Paris. The first time I walked in front of the camera and both the host and the camera person reacted, I knew it was love. Amongst the glitz and glamour of the fashion show and the hustle and bustle of the attendees, we still found time to murder and disrobe a world famous supermodel and wear his outfit while plotting the assassination of dozens. Though we only saw him for fleeting moments, I’ll always remember hiding the body of Middle Eastern royalty in a bathroom while we culturally appropriated him in the name of murdering.
In our later months together, things became busy and we stopped making time for each other, a fact which today fills me with regret. Though our time in Marrakesh was short lived, it wasn’t quite as short-lived as the life span of the countless NPC’s we embedded an axe into. All the name of laughs. We killed rock stars with an efficiency that neither drugs nor alcohol ever could in Thailand. We recreated Jonestown in Colorado and we committed in ninja themed medical malpractice in Japan. It was the truly the best of times.
Unfortunately, not everyone loved you like I did. Or rather how we did. Because we may not be as many in number as to satisfy your corporate masters, we are loud and passionate. We took down your elusive targets, we completed your challenges. We even wished you a merry Hitsmas. But in the end, it wasn’t enough.
Everything looked so bright. A second season was all but confirmed and our minds exploded full of ideas and new locations to pull off our daring escapes, massacres or general nonsense. What could the team that gave us such a surprising and engaging joy of a game give us, with the support of a loyal fan base and seasons worth of feedback?
But then that fateful day came. A day that has arrived for many like you, all cut down by the ridiculous expectation of companies that don’t understand their audience. A company that is so obsessed with announcing games years before they even exist that they couldn’t see what they had in front of them. A company that took a niche franchise, applied an appallingly bad marketing strategy and then expected blockbuster sales. Make no mistake, this is all their fault.
And just like that, one of modern gaming's greatest joys was to end. Who knows what the future holds. Have we played our last elusive target? Will we ever walk the streets of Sapienza again? Who is to say. If we never go back, it was a hell of a time when we were there.
Hitman is to be buried beside Deus Ex, Thief and Sleeping Dogs.
It’s survived by Tomb Raider. Barely.