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John Wick Hex

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 20 - 2020

Play as the retired assassin before he retired.

 
Movie tie-in games don’t have a great reputation. While there have been some gems over the years, the majority tend to be questionable quality cash-ins rather than anything that gamers would go out of their way to play. However, in recent years the trend of dropping a new video game for every popular movie seems to have worn off, and developers that do make a movie tie-in game seem more inclined to experiment. Thinking of a tie-in game for the excellent John Wick movies may lead to some kind of Max Payne or Stranglehold type of action game. The reality, as revealed in Mike Bithell’s John Wick Hex, turns out to be a stylish action strategy hybrid game. Now that does sound interesting. Having been around on PC for a while, PS4 gamers can now step into the unrelenting shoes of the assassin John Wick. Nice.

 


 
Set before the movies, John Wick Hex will give fans a great glimpse into the life of John Wick before his retirement. Even the movies were not really known for their deep storylines, and the game follows suit with a tale that plays to the brutal underworld that John is a member of. It also pays great fan service, as the story follows the kidnap of popular characters Winston and Charon, both voiced by their real life actors Ian McShane and Lance Reddick. They have been taken by another shadowy character, Hex, and The High Table have ordered John Wick to investigate. As already mentioned, it is not deep, but it does give a good excuse to shoot and beat up a massive number of bad guys.

 
The game is divided up into stages, with each stage consisting of a number of levels. Each of the levels within a stage carry on from one to another, with the player bringing over whatever ammunition or health from one to the next. Management is perhaps the most important aspect of John Wick Hex, with the player having to constantly manage not only their own health and ammunition, but also their focus, and time itself.

 
The way that the game plays from one moment to the next is quite different, and will take a while to click in the heads of many players. Essentially, much like Superhot, time only moves when the player does. Unlike Superhot, the game is played from an isometric viewpoint with similarities to XCOM. The level is made up of a hex-based grid, and a fog of war will cover the area until John is actually in a position to reveal it. This means that the player will have little idea of what is to come and so will have to make their plans as enemies or potential hiding places are uncovered.

 
When an enemy does come into view, or more likely multiple enemies, the player will have a variety of options for dealing with the situation. Everything that John does in the game takes time, from shooting, hitting and taking down enemies, to reloading and bandaging wounds. Tool tips will give the player details of how long each action will take, along with likelihood of success, and the player will have to plan accordingly using the timeline at the top of the screen in order to ensure actions can be performed without interruption. John’s focus is also measured, and so players will have to take that into account or risk running out and being severely limited.

 


 
The levels themselves are quite short in reality, and once they have been completed, the player can watch a replay of the action in real-time, which is quite interesting. Heading into the next level, the player will carry with them whatever they had at the end of the last, including ammunition which is in short supply. Picking up dropped weapons is an option, but again this takes time and the player will not be wanting to enter a new level without any bullets, just in case. The levels tend to either involve John reaching an exit point or taking down some boss character, and don’t really vary much.

 
Before starting a stage, players are given a number of coins that can be spent on various perks or buffs to make their trek through the levels easier. These coins are not carried over so the player can feel free to spend them all, picking up some buffs or stashing some supplies in the levels.

 
The gameplay in John Wick Hex really works well and makes the player feel like a tough as nails assassin. It odes take some time for the player to work out how best to use John’s abilities, and to learn the different types of enemies they will be facing. There is a slight problem with repetition during long play sessions, but being John Wick in short bursts will never get old.

 
The stylised cel-shaded visuals have a Marmite effect. They have a certain comic book style to them, which can leave characters in the game looking quite strange. The level replays can look a little strange with janky movement and frequent visual issues, such as clipping, and the cut scenes often feel out of place. For some, this will be the embodiment of cool, while others will be turned away by the visuals before they even start. Personally, I think the visuals suit the setting, but I can understand players expecting more.

 


 
John Wick Hex did not take the safe route, but the results feel like they really emulate the feel of the movies. The visual style may not be to everyone’s taste, but the strategic, action-packed gameplay is very satisfying once the player gets to grips with the mechanics. John Wick Hex is a movie tie-in game that tried something different, and has succeeded admirably.

 

 ★★★★★★★★½☆ 



 

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