John Wick Hex is as Surprising and Stylish as the Films
It’s only a few years old, but John Wick already has cult classic status. Starring Mr. Hollywood Do-No-Wrong Keanu Reeves, whose star power continues to grow, Wick weaves breathtaking violence with brutal, savage choreography. In short, it screams to be a video game. Now, it is. I played John Wick Hex this week, and it’s a supremely fun and satisfying… turn based game?!
For the first few minutes of my appointment, I was baffled. Of all the things to turn John Wick into, why a methodical and strategic kind of game? The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. In real life (and the John Wick movies), every action has a consequence. If Keanu reloads his gun, any bullets left in the old clip are gone. If he moves, rolls, or punches a baddie, it takes some amount of time.
John Wick Hex uses that fact as the central mechanic. It’s not turn-based in the ‘now it’s your turn’ sense, as everyone takes action at the same time. However, you’ll have as much time as you want to make your next move. Practically, that means you need to choose your actions carefully. Going for a takedown might end a weaker opponent, but takes a long time. If there are several enemies in play, simply breaking the line of sight might be the smarter option.
Consequences can be devastating if you neglect to notice that an enemy will squeeze off a shot before you can, and you might just die. That’s not very Wick. I played pretty recklessly, going for last second position changes or rolls to dodge. In doing so, I eventually found that flow that makes the John Wick franchise special. I felt a step ahead, with superhuman intuition, my cheeks flushed with adrenaline. Knowing that one mistake could cost everything made every success a total rush.
Actions have hit ratings too, and it feels more accurate than something like XCom. If you crouch, you’re going to hit your shot. You’re John f****ing Wick! I really appreciated the ability to interrupt enemy actions, and also that the action pauses when an enemy has a line of sight. It made adjusting on the fly feel like a violent puzzle where everyone dies. Sweet.
The style of the game plays right into the franchise’s construction. I was told that the team consulted with the creative team for the movies, and the highly stylized result looks great. The severely lit, comic book artworks great with the source material. Reeves’ signature John Wick stagger is breathtaking ( 😉 ), and the team has done a nice job making each movement and action feel weighty.
It wasn’t on display at E3 2019, but the final product is set to have a playback feature where you can watch back all your actions in real time with cinematic flair. That. Sounds. SO COOL.
John Wick Hex has no release date as of yet, but you can bet your suite at the Continental that I’ll be watching this one closely.