Game Review: John Wick Hex
Woah!!! A John Wick game?? It's going to be action packed, lots of bullets in the air, no time to think, as you will keep shooting your enemies. I know that's what most of you would think about a John Wick's game, because the movie series has been mind blowing packed with lots of fast pace actions. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but that's not the case with John Wick Hex game. It's strategy based game, yea, you heard right, it's a strategy based game. I never expected a game made from such an action and trailing movie to be a strategically based game. Although, it’s one of the best new strategy/tactics games of this era and also one of the most authentic movie adaptions ever. Sit back, relax and read through this amazing game review article I made just for you!!!(smiles).
John Wick Hex
Before I started this review, I had to watch John Wick, Chapter 3 - 'Parabellum' again to have a better understanding of both the movie and game. To be honest, if you are a true fan of the John Wick's franchise, you most likely would not like the game or you might adjust to the game after playing for some while, but the first reaction of almost every true fan of the John Wick's franchise is dissatisfaction. Although, after playing for some while, you start noticing that the game really adopted the movie almost perfectly. We all know John Wick as the Baba Yaga, who is unstoppable, killing almost, or if not everyone that stands in his way. We see him as an action guy. But if you really sit back to think about all the chapters of John Wick and all his fight, you notice that they are strategic and tactical. He reads the moves of goons/thugs and react first, giving him the edge. He doesn't go firing in like Commando, he does his kills very tactically and that's why we are so in love with the John Wick's franchise.
The British developer, Mike Bithell,is the developer of the game. Lionsgate film company singled him out, because he's a developer that is best known for the platform puzzler Thomas Was Alone. John Wick Hex kind of has a similar feel as the 'Thomas Was Alone' game. Will talk more about the game as we go on.
The plot wasn't what I was expecting, and its not bad. Its a good plot. It goes way back, several years before John Wick met his wife. Its quite refreshing knowing a bit of John Wick's past through this game. A big gangster who was trying to prove himself and also make a statement to the lords of the High table in John Wick's underworld life. He kidnapped John Wicks friends Winston and Charon. The lords of the high table were not comfortable, with a gangster becoming so powerful, so they summoned John Wick. As at the time, John Wick was about quitting that life, but since he is the very best, he was persuaded by the lords of the high table and also because of victims kidnapped were his friends, he took the mission up. John Wick started at the bottom of the gangster's criminal network, doing what he knows how to do best, killing and destroying the gangster's network, in search for the gangster. Do you want know who this famous gangster is? He is Hex. The mission of the game is to find Hex, kill him and rescue Winston and Charon. Hence, the name of the game, John Wick Hex.
Its a very simple and straightforward game set up. John Wick completes each level by killing goons and the boss of the goons, which is one of Hex's network, in order to get information of where to go next till he reaches Hex. Its a very good game plot/set-up,
Winston and Charon were played by the original characters of the John Wick's franchise, which are Ian McShane and Lance Reddick respectively. The star of the John Wick's franchise, Keanu Reeves wasn't part of the project as he had lots of things on his table, with Cyberpunk 2077, where he is playing/voicing Johnny Silverhand. Here is a picture of Hex, Winston (at the right), Charon (at the left) and Hex (standing) 👇;
The game play is like playing a game of chess in an action-strategy style, The genre of John Wick Hex falls under Action-Strategy genre. The game leans more to strategy than action, because the game is all about decision making. Should I shoot now or take cover, should use gun or hand combat? You are in such a situation, where if you choose the wrong move, you die. That's exactly how it is in the movie. In the movie, John Wick doesn't always make use of his guns, he flows and react to the move and situation of the scene. Sometimes, he will want to single them out, by killing them one after the other, without using gun, because he doesn't want to draw the attention of the other goons. That's how it is in the game, you will need to understand your surroundings and think of the best move to make.
John Wick Hex isn't a turned based strategy game(TBS) but a real-time strategy game(RTS). I know this may be confusing to some of you, let me explain it a bit. Turned Based Strategy games are games where players would have to wait their turn before they could play. Just like chess, checkers, monopoly, etc, after you make your move, you will have to wait your turn again after your opponent has made his/her move. Whereas Real-Time Strategy game is the direct opposite of TBS game, where players don't have to wait their turns before they can make their moves i.e players play simultaneously. The Real-time strategy aspect of the game, that's what makes it very interesting and captivating. As you are making your move to kill a goon, the goon is also making a move to kill you, hence, the faster and smarter player wins. Every move takes a specific amount time, for example, for you to shoot a pistol, it takes 0.9 seconds, to crouch, it takes 0.5 seconds. Imagine, an enemy is coming towards you and you are already in a crouched position, and you have an option to stand up which will take 0.5 seconds or you roll over which will take 0.6 seconds. Which option will you choose? The wisest option is to roll over, although it will take an extra 0.1 seconds. Why would the wisest option be roll over which takes an extra 0.1 seconds? The reason is that, if you just stand up, your enemy has edge to shoot you, but if you roll over, you must have caused a confusion in your enemy's head, his accuracy to shoot would drop, hence, you stand a better chance of survival.
The game is all about time management and decision making. Managing your time and making the right decision is crucial to your survival. Every time, you or your enemy wants to make a move, there's an automatic pause, giving you the chance to choose which move to make wisely. You can also see the move which your enemies are about to make, so you react to their moves. The game has two modes, one mode, where you will have the time in the world to choose what move to make and another mode where you have just 5 seconds to decide which move to make. I prefer the 5 seconds, you feel the rush, and have to act and think quickly as what John Wick is normally faced in the movie. Although, some people don't like that rush, because it gives unnecessary tension which might not be good to some people. The developer, Mike Bithell, did some justice to that by satisfying everyone.
Weapons used in this game are quite simple. Some weapons are just useless and most times not used at all. We have semi-automatic pistols, revolver, SMG, shot guns and assault rifle. Shot guns and revolver take so much time to fire, hence, leading to your death. SMGs and Assault rifles fire multiple shots at a go, hence, leading to shortage of ammo. The semi-automatic pistol is the best weapon to use, as it helps in almost every situation. Although, that doesn't mean that the other guns ain't useful in some situations, they are and come in handy sometimes. Its just that semi-automatic pistol is like the most all rounded weapon to use. That's why John Wick in the movie mostly use the semi-automatic pistol, although, he used other guns, for some situations, same thing applies in John Wick Hex.
Focus and health are the two major factors that affects your decision making. You have to pay attention to these two factors before making your decision. The focus is super crucial to your survival as it acts almost similarly to our regular stamina bars in various games. If your focus bar is low, your accuracy and your level to perform some skills will automatically drop and vice versa. As you perform some actions your focus level decreases, and has to be refilled in some specific amount of time. For example, whenever you roll over, and try to shoot, you will have less than 80% accuracy, whereas just standing up gives you 100% accuracy. If you still recall an example I gave earlier on, when I said imagine, you are in a crouched pinned position and an enemy is approaching. Now, you have to decide what to do. Stand up, get a 100% shot accuracy and most likely get shot in the process or roll over, get less than 80% shot accuracy and higher chance of survival. Your focus helps you decide on whether or not you can perform some skills. Whereas your health level, helps to indicate your state of survival if shot. Lets go back to that earlier example again. Imagine, if you had a full health bar and other health supplies, and have seen your enemy's shot damage per shot and you know that your health can handle like two shots, the wise option is to stand up and take the shot. So that's sort of the kind decision making process you would be making throughout the game.
The Game Graphics is the part of game that is very unimpressive. For a game of such a movie franchise, the graphics is not good. Ok, its an action-strategy game, we don't need to pay much attention to the graphics, but this isn't any kind of game, this is John Wick franchise's game. Graphics should matter. The developer, Mike Bithell, made a very bold move to go for a cartoonish graphics or let me say, a comic book graphics. I think, Mike, made the wrong call there because the graphics is terrible and unsatisfactory. After the end of a level, you are given a chance to watch the replay of the amazing moves you made but sadly you watch a replay that's awful. There are no cinematic shots which makes it worthwhile. The replay do show the shortcomings of the graphic aspect of the game. I'm glad there is an option to skip the replay because if I'm forced to watch the replay every time I finish, that won't be good at all.
The John Wick Hex is an awesome action-strategy game. It tried a lot in the unique adaption of the movie. I generally like strategic games, and this is a very awesome strategy to me, although true fans of the movie franchise won't be that pleased with the game. The plot of game is great, going back to John Wick's past is pretty cool. The game play was also superb but the comic book graphics with the awful replay feature wasn't good at all. In all, it is a great game and worth a buy.
Enjoy the official trailer of John Wick Hex below
Developer: Bithell Games
Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation 4 [reviewed on] & PC
Age Rating: 16