Review: John Wick Hex

Taking his turn to fire shots, James Troughton lays bare his grievances with this indie tie-in.

James Troughton
21st October 2019
When John Wick Hex was first announced, I was expecting a lacklustre FPS that imitated better titles in the genre, developed by some unknown studio with a terrible track record. However, as I stumbled across the news that it was being developed by an indie team, my scepticism turned into flourishing optimism.

The game may not have the jaw-dropping graphics of modern titles like God of War, but it does have a unique charm to it with its comic-book aesthetic. This bleeds into the cutscenes too as each part of the story is told through still images that feel like zoomed-in comic panels but, rather than telling dialogue through gigantic speech bubbles, we get some thrilling voice acting from a great cast.

"...with slower action, the story’s lower quality is noticeable."

However, the story isn’t brilliant. What carries the John Wick films is the incredibly choreographed fight sequences and drip-fed lore, not the actual narrative. Keanu Reeves’ performance also lends its hand to bringing the series to life. So, with slower action (but still faster paced than most turn-based games), the story’s lower quality is noticeable. Nonetheless, I doubt people picked this up for a thrilling and well-written narrative.

So, what’s the gameplay like? In a word, repetitive. The actual take on the turn-based genre is refreshing as, when you move, so does everybody else around you, meaning that when you make a decision, you have to factor in your surroundings.

This makes the experience far more tactical. Or, you can lob your gun at an enemy to stun them and rush in for the kill only to be gunned down by the mob of angry henchmen.

There’s a lot of player choice and its very freeing. The downside is that the game doesn’t grow in complexity and there’s little advancement which makes the experience incredibly monotonous. You do the same thing over and over until you beat the game.

Where I must praise John Wick Hex is in its difficulty options. Most games have a list of choices that range from “not spongy” to “sponge hell” but not this title. Instead, you can pick between a mode where, when time freezes, you have as long as you like to make your move. Or, you can choose ‘Expedited’ which means that you only have five seconds to take your turn.

"This is brilliant because it means that the difficulty increase feels genuine rather than cheap."

This is brilliant because it means that the difficulty increase feels genuine rather than cheap. It forces you to think faster and increases the pacing of the overall game. This definitely helps ease the repetitiveness of combat whilst also giving you a more challenging experience.

So, is John Wick Hex a worthwhile purchase? It’s a shame that it launched on the Epic Games Store (I’m personally not a fan) but it is incredibly cheap for what you get and so it is more than worth giving a shot. It’s not the best game of the year and it’s not the best in its genre (for that, give Divinity or Fallout a go) but it’s still a very fun way to kill ten hours.

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