If you haven’t heard by now, there is a series of movies out that focuses on a retired/not retired hit man named John Wick. Now, in the movies, Mr. Wick, or Baba Yaga (Russian for “The Bogeyman”) is a highly regarded and respected hit man and enforcer for the Russian mob in this game. Chronologically, the game takes place prior to the first movie and walks you through what John Wick was like before…well, watch the movie. No spoilers here.
Anyway, the game takes you through a story centering around a rescue. The player undertakes missions consisting of five or six areas each, culminating with a big boss fight at each mission’s end. As you progress through each area to the exit, you encounter many enemies to dispatch. Doing so requires you to manage “Time”. Every action, moving, shooting, striking, even throwing your gun, takes time. Enemy actions also take time, and you can track it all on a bar at the top of the screen. You must also keep an eye on your health, ammunition, and another statistic called “Focus”, which is consumed by performing unique actions like rolling and special melee attacks. Turns usually go something like this: 1) Move into position; 2) Choke out an enemy; 3) Door opens nearby and you decide to shoot; 4) Prepare and take the shot – standard double tap; 5) Move further in towards exit/goal; 6) Dodge or roll to avoid the next enemy that surprised you; And so on. As you perform actions the game pauses and lets you survey the general area and plan your next move. So while there is a lot of action the pace is very controlled and deliberate.
This leads me to one of my favorite features of this game: the replay. You get to see the entire area playthrough you just played, but without the pauses, so it looks like you’re making split-second decisions when you may have taken a lot longer. It’s a fantastic feature that is always in the back of my head, so a lot of my decisions were led by, “This is gonna be so cool on the replay!”
I really loved playing this game. I can see how a big “AAA” developer may want to produce a different take based on the films. But as an alternative, this more basic yet very challenging rendition of John Wick does the film series justice. There are role-playing elements as well after each mission that allow you to improve chances to dodge, use less focus for those unique moves, things like that.
Another great thing about this game is the voice acting. For those who are fans or at least familiar with the movies, actors Ian McShane and Lance Reddick will be very recognizable as their movie characters Winston and Charon, respectively. The dialogue is not flat, but the writing could be a bit more dynamic.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this game. It’s a very different rendition of John Wick than you might expect, and the developers did a great job following through with the concepts they introduce. The game is pretty easy to learn, but can be very difficult to master to get through some of the missions. If you’re a fan of John Wick, I would highly recommend this game. If you’re not a fan, still watch the videos and check out the game play!