If you asked me what I thought a John Wick video game would look like, I wouldn’t have come up with John Wick Hex, a top-down action game that feels more like a puzzler than a shooter.
But it makes sense, because a normal shooter game wouldn’t really do John Wick justice. John Wick Hex captures the kind of tactical thinking that the Keanu Reeves action hero requires to be the deadly boogieman he’s known to be, and also works as a fun and inventive puzzle/action game.
The key element in John Wick Hex is time, which only moves when Wick moves, kind of like in the game Super Hot. Between every move, you get to take as long as you want to decide what to do next, and there are always a lot of options.
This feature helps players embody John Wick without the years of training and experience Wick has had in killing large groups of people all by himself. You can take a breath and look around, gauge Wick’s well-being, see how many bullets are in the magazine, check every angle, see where enemies are looking, and then act, one move at a time, to make it through the situation as successfully as possible.
At the top of the screen is a timeline. The top line is Wick’s actions and how long they’ll take, followed by the closest visible enemy’s actions underneath, which allows players to see which option will be the best choice at every time freeze.
To the right are actions like Shoot and Takedown, and on the bottom there’s information including ammunition, health, focus, and stance (either standing or crouched). Focus is required for actions, and to refill your focus you need to take a couple of seconds to get back in the zone.
Once you get a grasp on these things, which happened pretty quickly for me, it’s all about moving through levels one step at a time and methodically executing every person in your path as well as Wick does in the trilogy.
As far as the story goes, it’s not unlike the movies. John Wick Hex is a prequel and includes the characters Winston (Ian McShane) and Charon (Lance Reddick), who are being held by a new antagonist. As Wick, you’re trying to figure out how to get to them.
And just like that, you find yourself shooting and beating up countless people in your way to get to your destination.
Along the way there’s a handful of environments and songs that feel like they’d fit right in with the movies, from cool clubs to dark alleyways.
John Wick Hex is surprisingly difficult. You can’t exactly hide away and heal yourself whenever you get shot, and the reload mechanic is very realistic — if you choose to reload your gun, the bullets in your current magazine will be discarded, just like if you actually switched out a magazine on a real gun.
Enemies don’t relent either, meaning you’ll have to be prepared at all times. I had to do multuple levels repeatedly to get through them without dying.
I’m no John Wick, after all.
John Wick Hex is available now on the Epic Games Store.