There's something special to be said for mastery in a video game. You reach it near the end, when you know every single button-press like the back of your hand. In these moments, the video game can be at its most fun, because you're no longer figuring it out so much as enjoying everything about its world.
But is there enough of the game left to enjoy this? Often, not so much.
The beauty of "Hitman 3": It's all about mastery, about taking the tools you've used in the first two chapters of this trilogy and leveling them up. Square Enix's reboot of the classic franchise concludes with this chapter, and instead of introducing new mechanics, it builds on everything you have learned before. It's a master class in letting a gamer appreciate their mastery. And if you love stealth gameplay, once you start this, you just may never stop.
"Hitman" now lands on Nintendo Switch as well, with the game sitting on a cloud server, much as it does on Google Stadia. This means a new audience can appreciate the title.
A quick refresher course: "Hitman 3" has you playing as Agent 47, a supremely resourceful assassin. You're dropped into a series of areas with objectives communicated to you by your handler, Diana Burnwood, the other pivotal character in the franchise.
You're tasked with killing somebody, and there are multiple ways to do so. The magic of the game is in ingenuity. Can you drop a chandelier on your target in what looks like an accident? Set them up to walk into a puddle, then electrocute them by flipping a light switch?
Try. Or try again in multiple playthroughs. There's more than meets the eye to Agent 47 and Diana and their bosses, and you'll learn all this in expertly built cutscenes. You hone your mastery in each area by revisiting it, playing it better, and then using those levels in a variety of online challenges. It's satisfying and layered, everything you want in a stealth game.
This satisfaction is only offset by a lack of multiplayer options. What is here, though, gives you plenty of satisfaction, thanks to the usual suite of additional elusive targets and other additions that push you back into levels you've beaten.
Platform: Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, Stadia, and PC.
Rating: M for 17 & older.