A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Narrative themes include loyalty and vengeance. Players are rewarded for tactical planning and patience. The action glorifies violence and suggests fighting is a valid and even desirable solution to some problems.
Positive Role Models
John Wick's determination, razor sharp focus, and loyalty is commendable, but he's worryingly unconcerned about killing any men or women who stand against him in his mission.
Ease of Play
For a turn-based strategy game, it's surprisingly easy to learn how to play, thanks largely to intuitive controls and a good heads-up display. But difficulty ramps up quickly, and there's a good chance many players will need to restart later levels from scratch in order to preserve John's health through to the end.
Violence & Scariness
John Wick uses guns and his hands to take down hundreds of enemies in turn-based combat viewed from a raised perspective. Cartoonish pink-red blood accompanies bullet strikes, and dead bodies lie strewn on the ground. Players can watch replays of entire levels from cinematic angles.
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Spoken and text dialogue contains strong language, including "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
This game could inspire kids to seek out the movies upon which it's based.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the locations is a club where drinking presumably happens when people aren't murdering each other.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that John Wick Hex is a downloadable turn-based strategy game based on the popular John Wick movies for the PlayStation 4 and Windows PCs. Players control John, a professional killer who operates by his own code of ethics, which involves being loyal to and protecting his friends. He spends the game using guns and his lethal hands to kill hundreds of bad guys on his way to save his friends from a villain named Hex. Combat's turn-based, encouraging players to think strategically before deciding what to do next. Pinkish red blood splashes with each gun wound, and bodies pile up on the floor. Players can watch replays of entire levels shown from cinematic angles meant to mimic the look and feel of action movies. John sees this violence simply as a means to an end, and never shows remorse or concern for those he kills. Dialogue contains strong profanity, including the F-word. Parents should also be aware that this is a challenging game that could prove frustrating to players who struggle with patience.
Is It Any Good?
Turn-based strategy games don't come much more accessible or fast-paced. Thanks to its focus on a single character and a blissfully simple interface, John Wick Hex almost feels like it takes place in real time. It only takes a few simple choices to command John to make his next move, and enemies act at the same time as him, so there's never any waiting. And while tactical thinking is a must -- waltzing into a room without any thought to lines of sight, cover, or parrying attacks is a recipe for failure -- the action's dynamic enough that players must also think on their feet and react quickly to new threats. You may have thought you had enough bullets, but a missed shot or a fresh group of enemies bursting through a door could change that, forcing you to, say, throw an empty pistol at someone to stun him while running for a dropped weapon. And ensuring you're in the right stance -- standing or crouched -- in each situation and that you have enough "focus" energy left to carry out your plans is key.
Be prepared, though, for a bit of frustration. If you run out of health (or bandages, which restore health), finishing off a location can become so hard that you may feel forced to start over from scratch with an aim to play more conservatively. An easier difficulty option that, say, refilled health prior to each scene would have gone some distance toward easing this issue. Be aware, too, that certain elements of the experience lack polish. The automated cinematic replays, for example, sometimes choose awkward camera angles that don't provide a good view of the action, and some of the tutorials and instructions can be a bit confusing. The PS4 version of the replays are somewhat better than the PC version, but you'll still have some shots blocked by walls or columns when you're playing the action back. Luckily, though, the bulk of John Wick Hex is straightforward enough that this shouldn't prove much of a problem for most. It's got a great rhythm, and it manages to capture the thoughtful fighting technique of its hero surprisingly well. Well worth investigation for older players who enjoy turn-based strategy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.