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IO Interactive is finally free from Square Enix, and its first decree as an independent developer has been to make the first episode of the 2016 reboot of Hitman free, which includes two missions that take place at the ICA training facility.
You simply select the platform you want the free episode for and then sign in to claim the free episode. IO has labeled the free episode as a demo, despite the fact that it consists of two story missions, two Escalation Contracts, more than 40 challenges, 17 achievements, and countless player-created missions made through the creation tool in Contracts Mode. The story missions also include cinematics for the intro and the outro, so you get a decent idea of what the rest of the story is like based on the free episode.
The free episode takes place at the ICA training facility, which works as both a prelude and prequel to the events that occur in the other Hitman games. We actually find out how Agent 47 comes into the employ of the ICA, and learn a bit more about his skills and how Diana became his handler throughout the series.
The ICA facility isn't very big but it definitely offers players plenty of opportunities to experiment with the different costumes, stealth kills, run-and-gun kills, and a lot of the other special context-sensitive hits that Agent 47 can pull off in the game.
Despite being one of the most gameplay intensive iterations within the Hitman series, and offering far bigger and more expansive gameplay opportunities than Hitman: Absolution and Hitman: Blood Money, the major drawback was that IO and Square Enix decided to experiment by releasing the game piecemeal through episodes. The multiple episodes were scattered out across all of 2016, and the first season didn't conclude until all the episodes were packaged together with a $60 release in 2017.
This episodic approach to an AAA game did not go over well with some gamers, and it resulted in the 2016 outing of Hitman to underperform on the market, and it eventually led to Square Enix selling off IO Interactive, which has now gone back to being independent.
On the upside, despite lacking a publisher, IO Interactive managed to retain the rights to the Hitman brand, which is huge news for the developers because it means it can keep making new games in the series under its own direction as opposed to seeing the brand becoming saturated under a publisher's direction. Whether or not this will mean that we'll see any new Hitman games anytime soon remains to be unseen, but in the meantime, you can get your hands on the free episode right now.