John Wick Hex is a Timeline Strategy Game developed by Bithell Games and published by Good Shepard Entertainment. Set as a prequel to the movie series, John Wick Hex follows the infamous assassin in a desperate mission to free Charon and Winston who have been captured by Hex, a new adversary seeking to invoke his birthright.
In Depth Strategic Gameplay
John Wick Hex is not a game for the faint of heart. It can be punishing on a level rarely seen outside of the Dark Souls series of games. Every decision that is made has immediate and long lasting implications that may have you restarting a series of zones. In order to be successful you must find a balance between aggression and caution without losing momentum, all while maintaining a heightened sense of situational awareness.
Ammo is extremely finite, bandages are extremely rare, enemies will continue to spawn until you are able to complete your objective, or find the exit of the zone. Each level is broken down into multiple zones. Any wounds you take, or ammo you use will persist through the entire level. Using all of your ammo or bandages in the early zones of a level may leave you frustrating lacking as you attempt to progress.
You will probably die. Multiple times. Having fun yet?
This isn’t an action movie……or is it?
The John Wick movies were awesome, filled with gunfights and intense hand to hand action with John Wick always seeming to know how to move and what enemies to kill in order to achieve his objective. Now it is your turn. Every action John takes, and enemies for that matter, are displayed in the order they will occur. You will often find that split seconds matter.
Game play is ruled by resource management and a timer at the top of the screen that you have to utilize to have any hope of surviving. Movements, mundane actions and attack preparations are shown in grey, while actual attack executions are denoted by a pink color.
The game will auto-pause when Wick completes an action, has an action interrupted, or when a new bad guy appears. This will give you time to decide if you want to shoot, hide, punch or maybe even throw your gun at them hoping to stun them long enough to finish off someone else. Wick also has a limited “focus” pool that is depleted when using certain actions, such as rolling, that he must take precious seconds to “refocus” in order to replenish said pool.
At the end of each zone you have the option to watch a cinematic replay of your actions as they played out through out the level. While on the surface this seemed like a really cool feature, in practice it leads to some really awkward and funny footage that is often obscured by set pieces.
After this you are taken to a stats screen that will detail and grade your performance, you will also be given different names according to how well you did. Things you are graded include shot accuracy, bandages used, time spent in each area as well as a few other things.
My only other gripe is that I could not use enemies as human shields. Besides that, I found the game play was challenging and rewarding, with a cohesive execution that left little to be desired.
Preparation is key
Before you start each level you are able to place some items, such as ammo, weapons and bandages, in specific zones through out the level. Proper placement can very well be the difference between success and failure. You also have the option to purchase different upgrades for Wick’s suit, which will provide in game bonuses. This is all done by using a limited pool of credits that is pre-determined.
Should you make it through the game and wish for a greater challenge, there is an “expedited” mode which only allows a few second to decide your next move, which can lead to some really spectacular sequences, or a very quick death. Either way, it’s fun.
This all blends together to become what really feels like a fluid action sequence that in its best moments emulates a seasoned killer moving from one victim to the next in a meticulous dance of death and destruction. The game utilizes a dark comic book art style. Combined with voice talent such as Ian McShane as Winston, Troy Baker’s seething Hex and Lance Reddick’s suave, foreboding Charon make for a satisfying backdrop to the gun-fu that plays out the rest of the time. A well placed score rounds out the experience.
Expect to spend 8-10 hours clearing the campaign initially, with a equal or greater amount of time spent on attaining “perfect” runs for those folks that need to.
I rate the game 4 out of 5 and would definitely recommend picking it up, fan of the movies or not. John Wick Hex is available now for PC via the Epic Game Store, with a console release planned for a later date to be determined.