This is not only one of the most impressive Hitman maps ever made.
It’s also one of the most original settings in all gaming.
Just like it was with Mumbai, where the attention to detail is so high you can almost smell the garbage seething in the sewer canals, The Isle of Sgail is somehow able to tell you its own story by way of voyeuristic tourism.
This was always part of the Hitman series, but with the technology and growing capabilities of Glacier Engine it is turning into an overt feature.
However, this is also something that at times feels overpowering against the main story. For example Providence is a cabal of kingmakers and powerbrokers, while the Ark Society is a Freemason-like clique of businessmen and academics, both groups brought together by a common operating figure - Janus.
As you immerse yourself in the “story” of the Ark Society and their activities, you realize their secrecy and their rituals is what allows them to pursue real world goals in isolation. Kind of like how you can only really make a decision with your friends, away from your parents and teachers. The decisions and directions you find scattered around the Ark Society event indicate that they are actually a quite progressive group. They support ecological and green energy ventures, even as Providence dabbles in the business of murder as well as amassing power and wealth.
Similar to the 007 film QUANTUM OF SOLACE, where an ecological corporation has links to a secret cabal, so it is that The Ark Society and Providence demonstrate the dotted line that links a car bomb killing to a zero carbon future.
And yes all that feels big, and immersive, and fun when expressed in this map.
So big, it tends to make Subject 6’s revenge agenda feel small and less significant.
At times I found myself wondering… In a world where every powerful person has made difficult and terrible choices and where we inhabit the role of a veteran assassin responsible for ending many lives… Do we really want to throw a wrench into plans to save the environment just so that Angry Lucas can have his revenge?
True. Soders was a threat to compromise the ICA in favor of Providence. But the operation at the Isle isn’t even an ICA sanction. “Our” agenda ended in Hokkaido by surgically penalizing the one man we wanted to punish and one associate. Soders’ offence wasn’t that he worked for “evil” Providence. His offence was that he was working for someone else when he is supposed to be working for us.
As it is when real life corporations go to war the goal isn’t always to eradicate the other. It’s usually a gut punch meant to say: “You’ll think twice next time before crossing me.” because as it is all organizations use each other some way or the other. Those MkII weapons you loathe so much in your inventory are paid for with Providence money.
This idea that almost everyone below a certain rank is innocent or blameless in a Hitman map is also a feature of the series, but it also means that agendas which seek to attack an entire group tend to fall flat. This isn’t like Dominic Greene’s gang in QUANTUM that directly pursued villainy to the point that their ecological corporation looked like a mere shell. Instead the Ark Society appears as a fully working think tank that wants to save the trees and colonize the planets - only three or four people on the map are overtly linked to Providence (and you can tell who they are because they’re the only ones not wearing fancy robes in restricted areas). Yet, our heroes seek to unsettle them all.
It is remarkably the same feeling as QUANTUM OF SOLACE feeling big and slick and exciting and sophisticated… only to learn that the climax boils down to stealing the water supply of a poor country that can never pay its ransom.
But the good news is whenever one steps onto the Isle of Sgail, especially outside of the main campaign, all of that fades into the background and you can just enjoy this impressive vertical castle sandbox.