Tension mounts as the situation at the gala reaches a sticky impasse. Your agents in the field are set to extract a valuable asset from the clutches of a criminal mastermind, but they’re sorely outnumbered and the security detail may be on to them. They’re running out of time to pull the mission off before the asset leaves, and you’re sweating bullets because if you fail, well… let’s not even consider that an option. You crack your knuckles, exhale, and think to yourself, if only I could get Jack out of this corner, I could have him grab a guard and whisk him off where he won’t be able to cause any trouble. You shuffle things around, play with the arrangements, and suddenly the solution presents itself. With fingers moving like lightning across your screen, everything locks into place and you clear the board for your agents to succeed, the music swelling to a crescendo as you drop the last of the face cards onto their respective piles. Another mission in the bag, and another game of Solitaire won.
Master Assassin, Baba Yaga, The Boogeyman, The Devil. These are names for the eponymous John Wick. How he got these names, John Wick Hex tries to fill in with his badassery in this standalone prequel to the movies starring Keanu Reeves, featuring only his likeness and not his voice here. As a whole, it works well without it being shoehorned somewhere within the numbered series that messes up the chronology. Mike Bithell has developed memorable and engrossing story-driven games with great gameplay before, but his touch feels notably absent here. John Wick Hex is a smart game made fallible by messing with the core of this action series: slowing it down.
One of the major challenges facing any narrative-driven game is the successful execution of a story whose quality merits the player’s time spent. This is especially true for games which are essentially interactive dramas. While Subsurface Circular certainly isn’t a visual novel by any means, its core mechanic is story advancement through conversation.