John Wick Hex PlayStation 4 Review

John Wick Hex is a unique and fun strategy game that lets you feel like the unstoppable gunman.

By RON, Posted 11 Jun 2020

One year after arriving on PC, the Boogeyman has finally invaded PlayStation 4 users with the release of John Wick Hex. If you’re familiar with the John Wick movies, then Bithell Games’ latest project will definitely have your attention. Telling a tale set before the first John Wick movie, its gameplay might end up shocking many.  Instead of the fast-paced action of the movies, John Wick Hex delivers a top-down turn-based strategy game. It is a bold attempt to adjust John Wick to this slow-paced game style in lieu of a first or third-person shooter, but the idea eventually pays off. As the overarching storyline tries to build its suspense, you take control of John, methodically taking down enemy after enemy. It takes a little time to get adjusted to the gameplay, but when you do, you end up feeling like the unstoppable John Wick.


John Wick Hex, PS4, PlayStation 4, Review, Screenshot, Cinematic, Gameplay, Walkthrough, Boss Fights, Trophies
 

As you would expect, John Wick is the only playable character in the game. While controlling him, you walk throughout dark alleys and varied buildings to take on rival organizations. Each move forward reveals more of the map and the positions of enemies. This makes John Wick Hex tougher than other turn-based tactical games, because enemies can suddenly pop out from behind doors, putting you in difficult situations. On top of that, John only has visibility in a limited area around him that moves as he moves. Your only relief is that, on the default game mode, you can take all the time you need to decide which action to perform next. Each level is built as a grid and involves either getting John to an escape point or to the target that needs to be killed. Every action you take eats up a certain period of available time, the game constantly feeding you information on how each enemy encounter will unfold. A number of options will appear once an enemy is selected, showing the results of each action John can perform. For instance, if John decides to strike, push, takedown, parry, shoot or even throw his gun at a foe, the game shows the hit chance as a percentage. Each chapter has a distinct setting, from back alleys to nightclubs, from banks to snowy outdoors, which keeps you going even though the gameplay remains largely the same.

John Wick Hex features two game modes: Operator and Expedited. Operator mode, as we established before, is the main one that lets you take unlimited time when deciding an action. Expedited mode applies extra pressure, giving you only seven seconds to decide your next action. The gameplay, however, remains fast paced in both modes. Unlike other turn-based games, John doesn’t have to wait for enemies to move or attack, as they both perform actions at the same time. John's own line of sight, though, is something that is going to trouble you the most. The majority of the game’s stages start covered in fog of war, becoming visible only after John ventures to explore them. The moment John spots an enemy or a group of them, he must decide whether to move or change his stance. By changing his stance, he quickly bends down and dodges gunfire or avoids an upcoming attack. While in that position, he can quickly roll up to 2 squares and attack the enemies from a different angle. This, however, costs him a couple of focus points – a resource shown in a bar at the bottom of the screen along with John’s weapon’s magazine and health. Just like reloading the weapon, John can refocus – which reloads the focus bar – at the cost of a move. You’ll be spending most of your time killing and adjusting your focus points, succeeding somewhat depending on how you manage them when you’re swarmed by enemies. Except for moving, most of actions that John does cost you focus points, of which John only has 10. Thankfully, the focus bar will be highlighted when it’s low, in which case John can’t see ahead of the grid he’s standing and his hit chance becomes riskily low. Without focus points, John’s death is inevitable. To avoid attacks the best strategy is to move frequently. The more the game progresses, it compels you to change position constantly to avoid getting swarmed by the enemies.


John Wick Hex, PS4, PlayStation 4, Review, Screenshot, Cinematic, Gameplay, Walkthrough, Boss Fights, Trophies
 

One of the game’s most distinctive features is its timeline which indicates the time required to execute an action compared to the actions of all visible enemies. With this, you can almost calculate how the next few moves will take place. You can plan ahead and combine a sequence of gunshots, takedowns, and dodging when taking on a squad of three or four attackers. Some moments see you taking on a group of opponents only to find yourself out of bullets and simply throwing your empty gun to take down the last of them. Speaking of planning, before the start of each mission, you enter a planning phase with directions for each level within that mission. This is more like a briefing as the plans can’t be modified. You encounter different types of enemies in levels, each with different behaviors and weapons. Some prefer hand-to-hand combat while others fight at range. At the end of each level, you’ll go against a boss once you’ve managed to kill everyone else. For obvious reasons, bosses are harder to kill as they not only have higher health than regular opponents but their shots can’t be interrupted. Due to their higher focus, it’s difficult to kill them with gunshots. Melee attacks are the best option for confronting them, provided you’re at full life and with a full focus bar. So, it’s best to reload both weapons and focus before encountering any and using a bandage to restore health. Otherwise, they’ll take you down pretty easily and, as you can’t save the game in the middle of any level, you’ll have to reply from the beginning, which can be utterly annoying. Bandages are the rarest thing in the game and John starts each mission with only 2 of them. This makes knowing when to use them an important part of the gameplay. Speaking of replay value, it’s worth noting that every time you load the game, the positions of the enemies change, giving you a fresh feel about that level.

The game is played in a top-down view, and, at the end of each level, you can watch the real-time replay of your entire playthrough in a close-up camera angle. It’s rewarding and, at the same time, gives a cinematic feel while you review your performance. After a series of levels, when a mission is completed, John can spend his gold coins to enhance his abilities. This allows him to increase focurs points or have his dodge cost less focus alongside buying extra weapons and bandages to be stashed in future levels. This is handy because ammo comes in limited amounts and John must constantly pick up weapons from fallen enemies.



 

John Wick Hex isn’t perfect. The game forces you to adjust to its camera angles and gets even worse when you’re forced into scenarios when it’s impossible to progress on the first try; it takes only a few shots to take John down. Also, despite his appearance, Keanu Reeves doesn’t lend his voice to the in-game character. On the flipside, Winston and Charon are, respectively, voiced by Ian McShane and Lance Reddick. Lastly, watching a reply can be a glitchy experience, as the sound and action fail to synchronize at times.

Despite a few downsides, John Wick Hex is a unique and intense strategy game. There will, surely, be fans disappointed with its turn-based strategy approach and who would have expected a straight-up action game. But, after playing it, I think that John Wick Hex is perfectly fitting for a game using the license. Simply put, if you love turn-based strategy games, you should give John Wick Hex a try.
 

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
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General Information

John Wick Hex

86/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Good Shepherd Entertainment
Developer(s): Mike Bithell
Genres: Turn-Based Strategy
Themes: Top Down, Action-Adventure
Release Date: 2019-10-08

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