This article contains lite spoilers of Hitman 3 live-event in Dartmoor.
I love murder mysteries. From the really bad ones done during dinner at events, the drunken ones played with friends, and of course, the filmic kind from Clue and Knives Out. They’re all a quick way to make my day. So, when the second mission in IO Interactive’s Hitman 3, “A Death in the Family” was revealed I was beyond excited. The location for this mission is Dartmoor, an estate equipped with a greenhouse, a hedge maze, a cemetery, and of course, a mansion that is ripped directly from the murder mystery handbook. Your goal as Agent 47 is to eliminate Alexa Carlisle and take her case file on Arthur Edwards, the head of the Constant. But to do this, you must first gain entrance to the estate by pretty much turning 47 into Benoit Blanc.
Now, the murder mystery isn’t the only way to eliminate your target but it is by far the most fun and close to a whole game in and of itself. Like any good murder mystery, the Dartmoor mission is all about intrigue, backstabbing, and squabbling children looking for great wealth. Having faked her death, Alexa Carlisle called her family to Dartmoor for her funeral. However, when they got there they realized their mother is very much alive and the family’s patriarch, Zachary is very much not. Made to look like a suicide, Alex has her doubts, which is why she’s called a private detective to look into him and the children and uncover the truth. If you’re getting excited, you should be. While Hitman 3 is an excellent game overall, the absolute best part of it is its murder mystery, which is easily its own game altogether.
While most of Hitman 3’s story missions have around three steps, Dartmoor has many. As Benoit Blanc 47 you must interview every member of the family. including the loyal butler, investigate every room, all of which are locked, and finally, put together all of the clues to find the chain of events to search the rest of the estate. But that’s not where the fun part is. Depending on which people you choose to investigate, you will be prompted to take your findings to Alexa Carlisle or continue investigating. This is where I tell you, keep investigating to have Benoit Blan 47 fill all of the donut holes, and give a thorough and quite exciting chain of events once you present your findings.
Overall, Hitman 3 is a game I love. It’s written as a finale to the series in an emotional way that looks to the future of the series. That being said, the best writing of any individual mission belongs to Dartmoor. As you uncover intel, the way the family speaks of each other and interacts with each other is phenomenal to both be told directly and overhear as you lurk in the background. One particular character is a pianist. Depending on when you meet them, this character is playing a somber song on the piano or just walking around the room, talking about how disturbed they are by the events of the past couple of days. In the background, two of the mansion staff lean against the door listening to the song and detailing how the music carries the character’s pain. It’s a moment that can easily be walked past, but one that builds out the character. On the other side, you can also hear about characters that are just awful, like snide remarks a character’s greed which was revealed when the family believed that the matriarch had died.
Beyond the strong character moments, however; Dartmoor also presents players with a map that may seem simple and small in scope to others like Chongqing, which is a multilayered city with hidden buildings, or Dubai’s location of the world’s largest and most decadent skyscraper. That said, in the mansion alone you’re given everything there is to love about the Hitman series blended with the elements you love from murder mysteries. Secret passages? Check. Peepholes? Creepily checked. And a spacious mansion equipped with taxidermied animals and antiquities? Check to the extreme.
The map itself is gorgeous and immersive. It’s beautiful to look at, especially as you load into your starting point and the camera pans from behind 47 and reveals the gorgeously massive Carlisle estate. But the beauty of this map is also functional, taking into account nearly every element of Hitman 3’s mechanics. As Benoit Blanc 47 you can scale the outside of the mansion, sneak into locked rooms, use creative objects to take out and subdue NPCs. Finally, with gardeners, outside security, bodyguards, butlers, a photographer, and more, there is an astounding amount of disguises to slip into as well.
While I had fun in Hitman 3’s world overall, Dartmoor is where I spent most of my time, diving as deep as I could into the messy rich family relationships and piecing together the truth. And let’s be honest, Benoit Blanc 47 is nice to look at too.