John Wick Hex puts you in the shoes of the world’s most dangerous hitman who will stop at nothing to accomplish his mission. This involves making quick decisions in the heat of battle even when outnumbered and low on ammunition, in typical Babayaga fashion. The game combines the look of the movies with time-based strategic gameplay to create an enjoyable experience that maintains momentum from start to finish.
The Timeline at the top of the screen shows how long it takes for you and other enemies to carry out certain actions. When you’re considering your next move, it is essential to make sure you will be able to execute it faster than any approaching enemies or else you will take damage and be interrupted. Shooting, striking and dodging all take up different intervals of time which forces the player to explore different combat options when short on time.
Regardless of how skilled John Wick is, engaging with multiple enemies of different types head-on is basically a death sentence. The inclusion of combos or environmental kills would have given players more creativity in how they approach each situation rather than relying on running backwards to cover constantly. The choppy stop motion and basic animations do not match the movies’ high octane action sequences, and this is further highlighted in the video playback of your gameplay.
Ammunition is scarce and a single magazine is usually enough to take out three or four enemies at most. This means you’ll have to find a new gun from the enemies you just defeated. This raises the stakes and forces you to adapt to new weapons with different firing speeds and ranges. Some weapons are objectively better than others which makes having the weaker guns as your last resort an intense and exhilarating experience.
Levels are designed to spawn enemies where you may least expect them, with randomized enemy types each time you attempt a level. There are multiple doors in each level that may also introduce enemies behind you which makes good positioning essential for success. The later stages of the game even introduce balconies and stairs which means you must worry about shooters from above in addition to those at your elevation. As the levels become more and more complex, it becomes difficult to figure out what counts as cover and enemies will sometimes shoot you through cover just as you turn a corner with can be frustrating.
The narrative features iconic characters such as Winston and Charon voiced by Ian McShane and Lance Reddick respectively, in addition to voice acting legend Troy Baker as the main villain “Hex.” The game takes place before the films and revolves around John Wick hunting down Hex who has captured Winston and Charon. The story unravels through cutscenes and dialogue from Hex’s perspective but doesn’t explore much in terms of lore in the John Wick universe. The game is visually appealing in its own way, with settings ranging from night clubs to snowy forests complemented by a unique 3D graphic noir artwork.
The turn-based nature of the game makes every gunfight a strategic and calculated game of chess with the AI which works well more often than not. However, the simplicity of the game limits John’s abilities by providing a small variety of moves and combat options. Nonetheless, John Wick Hex remains an entertaining strategy game that captures the look and feel of the movies but also adds its own twist to create a unique experience.
GameRev was provided with a digital download of the game for the purpose of this review.