IO Interactive has revealed two abandoned concepts for Hitman Absolution; one which would have seen Agent 47 embark on a "very dark" quest for vengeance against a group of killers, and another that saw him as a "frail and destroyed" homeless man with nothing to lose.
"In 2006, IO Interactive had published four Hitman games and as the development of the fifth game eventually began, the feeling of wanting to bring the silent assassin somewhere else was beginning to manifest itself internally," IO explained while discussing Hitman Absolution's development process in a new behind-the-scenes iOS App, Hitman Absolution: Full Disclosure.
"Since the release of Blood Money in 2006, IO had begun to explore other franchises but didn't want to abandon Agent 47 completely. Absolution went into pre-production with a decree of 'anything goes', which kicked off some pretty interesting creations."
While in pre-production, IO explored "radical ideas" that saw the team spending "a substantial amount of time exploring the borders of the Hitman universe' pushing, poking, stabbing and pulling at things and concepts.
"From the very beginning, there was a strong desire to drive the gameplay forward through a personal and emotional story. The most extreme idea was dubbed 'The Angry Man' and was a very dark revenge story about a group of teenagers, who had killed a girl. Many years later, Agent 47 got involved and was tasked with killing the group of men, who in the meantime had grown in different directions in life."
IO says that The Angry Man idea was "inspired by 70s revenge movies", with the music taking a turn "towards rock 'n' roll and blues rather than the digital and orchestral music of the past games".
It would have also featured a hub world – a small town that served as the hub for other levels.
"There's not a lot of this concept retained in what eventually became Hitman Absolution," IO explains, "but some of the energy and general grit of this idea remained all the way through to the finished product."
A second idea, meanwhile, dubbed 'The Homeless Hitman', saw a "frail and destroyed Agent 47" slung out onto the street, which IO hoped it could use to explore "the emotional aspects of the otherwise very deadpan behaviour of 47".
"In this story, the emotional impact of killing Diana was the catalyst of 47's decline and he was supposed to be gone for 13 years, having left the agency after the killing," continued the studio. "As a man without purpose, he slowly erodes and becomes a homeless man. Poverty and tragedy grew as a theme and we developed a whole group of homeless characters that were supposed to inhabit the 'lowlife' parts of the game – they were thought of as allies to the fallen 47."
Neither idea was implemented for the final release, however, after the decision was made to turn the game's production away from "the very tough and dark themes" to a more "lighter approach".
"Absolution became a game where the personal story was a frame around the levels, where it is all up to the player to do as he wants," IO said. "If 47's story would have taken a lot of space on the levels, it would have detracted too much from the gameplay and freedom of choice and so the ideas generated for this concept were eventually abandoned."
Hitman Absolution launched last November and saw Agent 47 trekking across America to rescue a young girl called Victoria.
The game was subject to a lengthy development cycle, having first been confirmed in early 2009. It's thought to have been in development for much longer, with the game's predecessor, Hitman: Blood Money, launching six years prior to Absolution in May 2006.
A new Hitman title is expected to be in development at Square Enix Montreal.
Hitman Absolution: Full Disclosure is available to download now on the App Store for £1.49.