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John Wick Hex was designed as a John Wick game from the start

Lead developer Mike Bithell says the John Wick license isn't a "wallpaper" over another kind of game.

Plenty of games that use movie licenses begin their lives as something else – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, for example, is rumored to have been conceived as a Batman game. But John Wick Hex director Mike Bithell says his upcoming game was designed from the beginning for the John Wick franchise, and that the source material has guided the game’s design.

“I think … Lionsgate and Good Shepherd also really wanted to make something you could only actually do with John Wick,” Bithell told us. “Something whee John Wick was not just wallpaper over a different kind of game and is actually a game that was built to be a John Wick game.”

It may be a bit of a surprise, then, to learn that Bithell’s take on John Wick is a considered, turn-based strategy game in the vein of XCOM, rather than a Max Payne-style third-person shooter. But the mix makes sense on reflection: John Wick the assassin does everything according to carefully-considered plans and super-human instincts. With the ability to replay the action in real-time after a round, it’s easy to see how turn-based strategy works with the films’ balletic combat.

“It’s like making a game where you start with a ‘Let’s Play’ of the game you’re making, because you have the movies, you have this reference of how the game is meant to play,” Bithell explained. ” A good player of the game should play like we’ve seen in the movies, and all you have to do – the easiest thing in the world – is go and work out a game where that’s the outcome of someone playing it well.”

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Bithell may have been pulling our leg a bit with that last statement – we can think of several things that are probably easier than making high-level play look like it does from the movies – but his comments do show that the concepts that underpin the John Wick films have been baked into John Wick Hex from the word go.