If you were to tell me that one of the most fast-paced, well-choreographed action films out there was to be converted into a game format where actions happen second by second, and pause by pause, I would have called you crazy. But, crazy as it may sound, Bithell Games’ John Wick Hex manages to distill the action of the film franchise into a top-down, tactical, almost-turn-based game. And quite frankly, it was very successful in its mission. Is John Wick Hex worth your time and money? Find out in our review below.
A review code for John Wick Hex was provided by Bithell Games for the purpose of this review.
I was greeted by the main menu upon first booting the game up. I always consider that a plus, as it give me the chance to tweak graphics and audio settings before being thrust full-force into the game. There weren’t many graphics settings to adjust (to be entirely fair, there’s not much to modify of what I would describe as John Wick Hex’s cel-shaded style), and after adjusting some audio levels, I was good to go.
After starting the game, I was presented with a cutscene that unfolded panel-by-panel, almost like a comic book. I noticed the first real technical hiccup while the characters were speaking. There was this weird frame stuttering shifting from panel to panel in the cutscene, but it eventually seemed to resolve itself. The stage was set, and I donned the suit of John Wick.
Tutorial panes popped-up, explaining how the game was played. I found them useful, albeit short and to the point. Buy hey, the best way to learn is by doing. I approached my first enemy by moving from ‘hex’ to ‘hex’ to close the distance. Then, I pulled up my action menu. Under ‘Shoot,’ I saw that I had an 80% chance to hit. Too risky. I advance several hexes forward, and my hit percent chance increased to 100%. I initiated the Shoot command, and and a little over a second and two muzzle reports later, the enemy was subdued. Rinse and repeat through the levels.
John Wick Hex is all about tactically positioning John in order to give him the best chances in what could be described as an overtly hostile environment. It is truly you versus the world. Game actions take place along a timeline, displayed at the very top of the screen. This differs from turns like one might see in a more traditional tactical game, like XCOM. Put simply, every action both the player and surrounding enemies do take ‘X’ amount of seconds. Say an enemy is lining up a shot on the player, and it will take him two seconds to take the shot. As the game time pauses, the player is given several choices in this scenario. You could move to break the enemy’s aim, rush them for some melee combat, or, time permitting, shoot the enemy before he shoots you.
Setting the Pace
The enemy’s timeline is shown under yours. An intended action is shown, and the timeline extends. It’s up to you the player to decide what actions to perform in order to best subvert the enemy within the given timeline. Any intended actions will show up in a hypothetical timeline displayed at the top, even providing raw number outputs. Using this timeline system is a unique take on the more traditional turn-based tactical RPGs. Through this system, John Wick Hex gives off a much faster-paced gameplay than its cousins, which fits given the game’s pedigree. Players looking for a greater challenge challenge will find a mode that only gives the player 5 seconds in each pause cycle to decide on what move to make next.
Within the core gameplay, there’s, of course, health, which can be healed by bandages. Bandages are a limited resource, and using them takes precious in-game seconds. The same can be said for ammunition. Oftentimes, switching between guns dropped by enemies is a necessity. Once again, picking up a new weapon takes in-game seconds as well, in which all manner of things can happen in the environment. There’s also the ‘focus’ gauge, which modifies various factors during gameplay. This is limited as well, but it regenerates slowly as time passes. John Wick Hex is the epitomizes the saying: “Use your time wisely.”
Past that, there’s not really much else to the gameplay loop. An added layer of difficulty gets added due to health and ammunition not getting carried over from level to level. The cel-shaded art style is done well and is unique, with vibrant colors popping out at the player. Animations can occasionally feel a little bit awkward, but other than that, John Wick Hex provides an enjoyable 9-12 hour initial experience.
Overall, John Wick Hex provides an enjoyable, but possibly short experience. It’s definitely worth the pickup for either fans of the franchise or fans of the tactical gameplay genre. John Wick Hex is available on the Epic Store for $19.99 USD. If you’d like to read more of our reviews, check out our entire review section here.
- THE GOOD
- Timeline System Provides Spin On Traditional Turn System
- Great Art Style
- Captures The Fast Pace Of John Wick Well
- THE BAD
- Animations Occasionally Awkward
- Some Tedium Is Added Through Resource System
John Wick Hex provides a unique take on the tactical top down game, and by adopting different systems, is able to capture the fast pace renowned in the films. The fun gameplay combined with the art style make John Wick Hex a fun, but albeit short, and occasionally awkward experience.