By now you must have seen at least one of the John Wick movies, if not the whole trilogy that’s been presented thus far. It’s basically the story of a hitman who’s retired, but one not-so-simple act of violence jars him back onto the scene, killing anyone that gets in his way.
Oddly enough, it’s a plot that’s ideal for a video game, considering fans of the films have been wanting to get trigger happy with Wick for years. But the one that’s been presented to us by Mike Bithell of all people takes a different approach. John Wick Hex is still all about mowing down the competition, but it does so in a tactical sense. And, strangely enough, it works, if only because you get a better idea of how someone like Wick would operate. You know, rage aside.
Thinking Ahead On Assassination
The difference between the usual third-person action game and John Wick Hex relies on the tactical approach. As you enter each new situation with enemies entering the picture, you have a general timeframe of how things unfold. You’ll need to figure out what move you’re going to make, and fast, before your enemies do. Do things correctly and you’ll effortlessly mow down a trio of guys like nobody’s business. Screw it up and you’ll have to heal up, lest you become endangered in the next situation.
But it’s not a matter of being invincible. With Bithell behind the wheel, you have a lot of things you need to adjust to in John Wick Hex. One of the big things is line of sight. If you don’t have a clear view of your enemy, you can’t really take the shots you’re hoping to take, even if you are John Wick at the end of the day.
There’s a lot to consider as well. Sure, you could shoot the guys right in front of you, but that could leave you open to attack from afar. If you hit someone from far range without doing something to whoever’s going to hit you, you could take even more damage. You have to think each area out pretty neatly in order to move forward. Fortunately, Hex lets you adapt to gameplay very easily, and it doesn’t take long to figure things out and look like the same effortless hitman that Keanu Reeves portrays on the big screen.
Along the way, you’ll be able to pick up new weapons and take care of ammunition, so you’re never really brought up short. Sometimes it can take a bit to figure out the right path in a level, but it pays off when you finally reach the exit after cleaning house on pretty much everyone that’s set out to kill you.
It’s an overall surprisingly smart game with a heaping dose of action, once you get used to it. The only downside is that the story doesn’t quite follow suit, even though it takes place in the same universe as the film. Perhaps it’s not supposed to have the same impact, but rather serve as a supplementary piece that asks, “What if?” with control over the would-be hero. We can accept that.
A Rip-Roaring Presentation
John Wick Hex doesn’t just benefit from a strong gameplay system that leaves you on your toes. Its presentation is also steeped into the lore of the films, even if the story isn’t entirely there.
For instance, yes, that’s Keanu Reeves’ likeness as Wick, although he really doesn’t say anything over the course of the game, which is a bit unlike him. Fortunately, Ian McShane and Lance Reddick fill their roles of Winston and Charon nicely, so you do get something that’s recognizable.
There’s also something neat about the level layout, as we said above. It can take a bit to figure out the right path in getting where you need to go. But once you do, seeing how each battle unfolds in cramped alleyways and other areas is really cool. Plus, the art is excellent, matching up with the tone of the films, right down to the stylish bloodletting. The music, like the voice acting, really fits the tone of the material, too.
Not Your Usual Killer Game
While John Wick Hex may throw off those expecting a full-blown run-and-gun experience, it has a remarkable amount of weight behind it. That’s due to the prowess of Bithell, looking to make something deeper than the usual shooter. It works, even if the story isn’t entirely up to snuff and we never get to hear Reeves growl in our ear. The tactical gameplay will keep you coming back as you look for the best way to handle each, ahem, killer situation; and the presentation is as polished as you can get. John Wick Hex may not be the assassin you expect, but he’s certainly the one you deserve – just like the real deal.
John Wick Hex is a killer good time for those seeking something beyond the usual run-and-gun.