It takes a little while for John Wick Hex to click, but when it does, the game does a surprisingly great job of making you feel like the unstoppable hitman himself. The title follows an original storyline that takes place before the John Wick movies, with comicbook-style cutscenes playing between each mission. It's a decent attempt at creating an overarching plot and it does build some tension, but much like the films, the action commands centre stage.
Or in this case, it's the tactical action that makes up most of the experience. Each level is built around a grid, and you're tasked with getting John to either an escape point or the target that he has to kill. As you carefully make your way through backstreets, restaurants, and the hideouts of criminal organisations, enemies pop into view and time stands still. Each action that you decide upon takes up a set amount of time, with the ever-present timeline at the top of the screen feeding you information on how each encounter is about to unfold.
Ammo is limited and looting guns from your fallen foes takes a couple of seconds, so you're constantly trying to plan ahead. John may be an unrivalled killer but he's still just a man -- if you're caught out in the open, reloading or applying a bandage, you'll be gunned down very quickly. Initially, wrapping your head around John's moment-to-moment options can be difficult, but once you're familiar with enemy types and the rules of engagement, chaining commands together quickly becomes second nature, and watching Mr. Wick fight his way out of certain death situations is hugely rewarding.
But things don't always go so smoothly. The game's at its best when you're being forced to adapt, but it has a bad habit of introducing scenarios that feel like they require trial and error. For example, some enemy spawns are near impossible to see coming on a first run, and while you're never truly out of options, taking a few bad hits can cripple your chances -- especially in later levels.