John Wick: Hex Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, PC and Apple Mac
Have you ever watched John Wick dispatch rooms full of Eastern European crooks with ruthless, impeccable efficiency and thought “Pfft, I could do that, I just don’t feel like it.” Well, thanks to John Wick: Hex, you can finally test your mettle from the comfort of your own home and not a single puppy needs to die to facilitate that.
John Wick: Hex takes an unexpected turn for the franchise, side-stepping the expected shoot ‘em up genre in favour of a turn-based strategy game. The purpose of John Wick: Hex is to plot out and execute the seamless elimination of a room full of armed opponents. You are given a handful of options per turn, the standard move option, the roll to dart across long stretches of the level quickly, several variations of close-quarters combat to conserve ammo, shoot to do the opposite of conserving ammo, throwing your gun when you do a poor job of conserving ammo, and bandage when someone puts their own ammo in your body.
Every time you make a move, your enemies move at the same time as you, so if you travel a long distance across the stage then your enemies will move along their route and potentially ambush you. You need to consider every move, timing your movements with the bad guys to line yourself up for the perfect gun kill. Your early efforts might be clumsy, one of my own attempts involved me circling a table trying to work out where I was supposed to go next, but in time you will become a master of assassination.
Once you complete a stage, you are given the chance to watch the action unfold in real-time, and these can either be a very entertaining showcase of your prowess or a clumsy farce that shames the legend of the Baba Yaga. The game animations can often be clunky looking in the replays but everything is bathed in gorgeous neon purple so they do not detract from a satisfyingly successful mission.
As the game progresses, you can earn Continental coins to cash in for boosts for your next game. Everything that I unlocked seemed to provide negligible benefits but it was a nice detail for fans of the John Wick universe.
Beyond the taciturn titular character, the only staples from the films to appear in John Wick: Hex are Winston and Charon of The Continental Hotel, with Ian McShane and Lance Reddick reprising their roles. Troy Baker plays the core antagonist Hex. The story is largely disposable and the performances are rather phoned in from McShane and Reddick, the real draw is the gameplay, and that definitely has its appeal.
Fans of the movies may not be wild about the methodical pacing of John Wick: Hex and the additions the game makes to the universe are too inessential to make this appointment gaming, but fans of turn-based strategy games will find a lot of engaging action and novel spins on classic genre mechanics.