John Wick is a man of focus, commitment, and sheer will! John Wick Hex has been out for almost a year now, and now Bithell Games has decided to bring the long-living legend of John Wick to PlayStation 4 as well. Over the year that followed the game’s release on the PCs with its nonexistent hype, it felt as if the game never existed. Well, we’ve found no reason for it to be so, and the game is not particularly what you should be expecting.
Perhaps, the developers were unaware of the fact that the legend of John Wick is known for its three-movie saga. With all the power that the developers had at hand when they announced the game under the name of John Wick, they let it all go to waste when they decided to base the entire game on a comic series. The first glance at the game tells you that the developers may have saved a buck or two while designing the game and its characters. All the characters are out of comic books. This is not even the worst part, all of the cutscenes are from comic books as well. It seems like having a John Wick game with those blood pumping and action-filled cutscenes from the movies that could add life to the game, will remain yet another dream.
Bithell Games really through away the last of my hopes for the game when they presented it in a top-down view. You will not require any adrenaline to land an action-filled kick or have the satisfaction of popping an eye with a pencil, since it’s not an action game, at least not the action that I was expecting it to be. Turn-based tactical games are fun, but not when you are in control of a murder machine. Instead of getting your reflexes in order so that you can bring out the best action moves in the game, you will be calming your mind and planning the next ten moves before you press a single button to mark your move.
This is as bad as the game gets, not that there is much else left to a game, but when it comes to the gameplay, I think we can give the game a little moment to breathe. The turn-based tactical is certainly not the best one in the market right now, but it is still not the worst either. The game reminds you that time is of the essence by running a timeline over your head. Every action you take and every move you make will require time and your timeline will inch forward with it. It is a nice little feature that gives you this realistic feeling that you are progressing in time and getting John Wick nearer to his goals.
You start feeling at home with the game when you have to struggle and keep your Focus high. What’s a John Wick without focus? Dead meat. Something similar happens in the game as well. While devising the perfect tactic to take down the enemy, you have to keep a lookout on your Focus. If you have enough Focus you will be able to dodge the enemies’ moves. Once you run out of Focus you will have no other option but to charge at the enemy, and if the enemy is armed, you better get some meds for the holes that they are going to leave in your body.
Like other turn-based tactical games, John Wick Hex too demands your utmost patience. Most of the levels will offer you dark alleyways which will only light up once you ease your foot into them. There are chances that you might run into an enemy while you are blind sighted, but this is nothing that a good strategy can’t solve. Even more so, you’re required to have patience so that you can understand and make the best use of guns while devising a tactical strategy. The 9mm is a handy little gun and has a lot of damage, but it is still not as powerful as the shotgun. If you are thinking you have found an all-rounder, well you haven’t, since reloading a shotgun takes ages.
Next, we move onto the SMGs. Without a doubt, they have more fire rate, but things get shaky when you use them for long-ranged targets. Similarly, there are a lot of other guns with their pros and cons. There is a variety of enemies and they all take different hits with different guns. This confusion coupled with all the gibberish that appears on the screen when you face an enemy will overwhelm you for the first few stages, but it smoothens out later on. The ammo is limited in all of the guns and you will have to make efficient use of the bullets. If you run out of the ammo mid-game, you can always pick up the weapons of your defeated enemy, but this will require time.
The game gives you plenty of chances by freezing itself every now and then, this will give you more time to plan your moves. Every time a new enemy makes an appearance, or you finish up with your move, or the enemy lands you a punch, the game will freeze, and you will have sufficient time to make a comeback. Even though the location of the enemies is not visible, you can locate them using the white arrow and then spend your time accordingly to refill your Focus or reload a weapon before the enemy makes an appearance. The game will even give you a chance to plan out your moves in between the stages.
In the beginning the game will be a bit difficult to get a hang off, especially while managing the overhead timeline and Focus. But after a few stages, you will be able to predict the movement of the enemies and also get used to turning the timeline to your advantage. As you reach the final stages of the game, the game starts to get difficult, while in the last two stages, the antagonists will have you prove your gaming skills to them before you can finish the game.
As far as the storyline of the game is concerned, the game takes you back in time when Helen, John Wick’s wife, was alive. With this, the developers get a restriction-free ground to get creative with the storyline. They won’t be running into any over-excited John Wick fans in case they deviate from the actual storyline that the movie follows.
Turn-based tactical games are best played on PC, but Bithell games have done a pretty good job setting the controls up for PlayStation 4, and playing the game with Dual Shock 4 was really not as hard as I expected it to be.
Personally, I was looking forward to the game to play out in a similar way to the movies, but this game is not meant for people who are playing it to get the wisp of the movie again. This is a totally different game, with different kinds of action and even a different storyline. However, the developers have pulled a few heartstrings every now and then by including some of the movie elements in the game. The neon lightning in the nightclubs is very similar, if not a carbon copy, of the nightclubs John Wick visits in the actual movie. Admit it, it is a little difficult keeping up with the story in a turn-based tactical game, hence, you will be allowed to replay your moves in the form of a movie afterward. This brings back some nostalgia for the original trilogy.
Well there you have it, the game is developed to be played with a different mindset, but as a hardcore John Wick fan, I feel that the game would have made a more remarkable impact as an open-world action game. I was really looking forward to burning some rubber on John Wick’s iconic 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. Anyways, it is what it is!