Growing up I lived off a staple of Hong Kong and American action movies, I would watch anything from Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan to Chuck Norris and Cynthia Rothrock. I watched them all so much that most of my early to teen years I wanted to be an assassin when I grew up (my family still remind me of this). Roll on twenty-odd years and along came John Wick, a cool dog-loving badass assassin that just called to the little kid still inside me. Since then I have watched the films, read the comics and now played John Wick Hex, but is it a game worthy of the John Wick name?
The game brings us to a point in John Wicks life when he is in his prime. A new player has entered the game in the shape of Hex (Troy Baker), an international criminal that wants to prove to the High Table that his power demands respect so he kidnaps Winston (Ian McShane) and Charon (Lance Reddick)and stores then in a secret location.
Upon hearing of their kidnap the High Table issue a contract out on Hex and unleash the Baba Yaga himself, John Wick. John travels around the world fighting his way through Hex’s underbosses and destroying his operations for the High Table.
John Wick Hex – I see you
The decision to make a John Wick game a turn-based strategy one was a brave move and for most parts they pull it off. There are two difficulty options, normal or hard, hard being that you have only seven seconds to make a choice of action and in playing it on normal you will know how much of a big deal that is. The feel of the game was very John Wick I have to admit, you get little to no ammo for your gun so you will need to count every bullet. You can take down enemies in John Wick, up close and personal style and save your bullets or you can just pick up an enemies gun along the way. You can only move a certain number of places and can only attack or be attacked by enemies that you can see when you move you light up that part of the map and in effect discover what lies ahead.
The levels are done in segments to get to the next boss, I found it a bit repetitive after a while in every way. Yes, it makes you get better at the game as the levels get harder with a big learning curve but I didn’t have that urgency to finish a level to see what’s next, just the “here we go again” feeling. I think the lack of interaction in the levels between John and anyone really hurt the game as you just didn’t care enough about the story or what John was doing.
Style over substance
The style of John Wick Hex is a weird one, I don’t know what they were going for style-wise but for me, it just didn’t work out. Along with that, the animation was very messy, in the cut scenes you got a close up of Hex, Winston and Charon and it wasn’t flattering.
Their eyes were very Coraline-esque. They almost looked like buttons, maybe they were going for artsy but it just didn’t feel right. It was great that they got McShane and Reddick to reprise their roles as it gave the game some legitimacy but this was definitely not the John Wick game we deserved.
The only redeeming feature was the level playback option in which you can watch back the level you just played but it is done in the way of a John Wick action sequence. This made me want to get better at finishing levels just so I could feel like John Wick when watching it back.
Even at that, they could have given you the option to move the camera angle and a bit of editing control or even an upload option for players so they could watch how others made their way through the level, little things like that would have elevated this game so much more.
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