As a middle-aged dude who grew up watching anime, kung-fu films, and The Matrix, inject the John Wick series straight into my veins, please. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks re-watching the entire collection to get pumped for John Wick: Chapter 4 on the big screen and now that I’m caught up, I don’t want to hop off this vibe train.
Fortunately, I also grew up playing a heaping helping of video games, and there are several kick-ass ones that are absolutely perfect to pick up and play to feel like the man, the myth, the devil himself. Boot these up and become an absolute badass. Better yet? They’re all pretty cheap!
The Hong Kong Massacre
John Wick: Chapter 4 includes an awe-inspiring top-down scene of Mr. Wick clearing out a French building with extreme, fiery prejudice. It almost felt like a video game—and that’s because it was inspired by a rad one. Director Chad Stahelski told SlashFilm the scene was directly inspired by The Hong Kong Massacre, a top-down shooter that released in 2019.
“I had seen this video game and I’ll throw a shout-out — I think it was called “Hong Kong Massacre” — they did this top shot and we had been doing so much with the big muzzle flashes and it just kind of clicked like, ‘Well, if I’m above, we shoot like this and we shoot like this, and it draws these cool lines with the muzzle flash, and if I get the right flicker effect, it’s like Etch A Sketch. It looks really cool,’” Stahelski said. “And it was a different way to amp up the action and keep you in that video game mode that John Wick’s kind of known for, that first-person shooter kind of thing.”
Speaking of first person shooters, the legendary Superhot (sorry, SUPERHOT. SUPER. HOT.) remains the best John Wick action simulator to date, especially if you’re able to play it in VR. Here’s an excerpt from our review:
“It’s a first-person shooter, except time only moves full-speed when you move. Stand still and everything slows to a crawl. Bullets hang in the air, red trails stretching out behind. People are practically motionless, frozen mid-charge.
Lucky for you, because the odds are overwhelming. You’re a one-man army, taking out anonymous red enemies en masse, watching bullets idly twirl past your skull, exchanging shots with statues. Pause. Running out of ammo and then throwing your gun at the nearest foe, putting him off guard just long enough for you to sneak in a punch. Pause. Grabbing his pistol out of the air as he falls. Pause. Spinning and shooting two more who’d snuck up behind. Pause. Dodging out of the way of two bullets arcing your direction. Pause.
This start/stop rhythm is the core of Superhot—more puzzle game than first-person shooter, more The Matrix or Equilibrium than Call of Duty.”
If you haven’t played Superhot, fix that mistake now. And if you’ve played Superhot, it’s time to play Superhot again. It’s always time to play Superhot.
But back to top-down, hyper-violent shooters with all the vibes. Before The Hong Kong Massacre, there was Hotline Miami, a retro-tinged masterpiece with possibly the most absolutely banging soundtrack of all time. Here’s how we described it once:
“Hotline Miami is still one of the best arcade-style experiences I’ve ever had. It was basically a tight, well-crafted version of Hitman on cocaine—blasting music, brutal murders, and adrenaline. As you played, you’d feel yourself gradually lose yourself in the experience. You’d allow yourself to slip into “the flow,” a sort of Zen state of unfeeling efficiency where your murders became almost reflexive.
It was crazy. It was disturbing. It was addictive as hell.”
That’s John Wick af. Skip the sequel, though.
More into fists than guns? You definitely want to check out Sifu, which calls itself “a realistic third-person brawler with tight Kung Fu combat mechanics and cinematic martial arts action embarking you on a path for revenge.”
That’s true and Sifu absolutely slaps. It’s also John Wick af, just without all the shooty bangs.
John Wick Hex
Finally, the actual John Wick game has to make this list, of course. But John Wick Hex is very, very different from the movies and the other games highlighted here. It’s not an action game whatsoever. Instead, it’s “a satisfying strategy game that aptly captures the feel of the films in a way no true action game could,” as we said in our review.
“A hybrid of real-time and turn-based, the timeline governs all in John Wick Hex. Every action takes a set amount of time. Walk one hex? Maybe a second. Pick up a gun? Two seconds. Bandage your wounds? Four.
Your enemies are ruled by their own timelines, of course. And given the nature of the system, their actions aren’t necessarily in sync with yours. As I said, one enemy is simple. Wick tends to act slightly faster than his opponents, so you can almost always handle a single foe. When John Wick Hex throws more enemies at you though, it starts to play out almost like a dance. Almost like the films, really.”
John Wick Hex stumbles to the finish line thanks to an insane difficulty spike and too-frequent deaths. But if you’re open to a new kind of experience—or simply want to step in the shoes of the genuine Mr. Wick rather playing through games that match his vibes—it’s well worth playing. “I wish more tie-in games were executed with this level of craft, and with premises this creative,” we said. “If they were, perhaps we’d see more of them—or at least more worth playing.”
Happy hunting, Mr. Wick!