Gone are the days of simple games. Hack and slash, RPGs, and shooters all now have elements of other genres mashed in to make things more complex. Some of these mashups work very well, and others turn out to be Wanted: Dead by developers Soleil.
These are the same devs that brought you high-octane action games such as Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive. While there is a lot to say about the game, not all of it is bad. There will be some players who will appreciate some of what it has to offer.
Don’t open that door
Play as Hannah Stone and her team of misfit cops. There’s Doc, Herzog and Cortez, who is deaf. Each has their own personality, backstory and personal connection with Stone and the rest of the team. To be quite honest, I have no clue what the story is. I found myself extremely distracted with the voice acting to really focus on any development.
Do you remember those cheesy arcade shooters like House of the Dead or Time Crisis? The voice acting is just as terrible. The only game to still be number one in my book of awful voice acting is the original Resident Evil. R.E. gets a pass since it was made in the 90s. There’s no excuse now for poor VO work. Stone is just devoid of any emotion and a lifeless shell of lines that simply need to be said in a microphone.
As mentioned before, there is a fair mix of game mechanics in Wanted. Stone carries a katana, sidearm, and your choice of carrying two different kinds of primary weapons such as auto rifles, scouts, shotguns, submachine guns, etc. All of these are upgradeable, and players can also choose new attachments and skins for a bit more cosmetic customization.
Unfortunately, not all these elements work well when fighting multiple enemies. Autotargeting and ADS are wonky, slow (at least with default settings), and infuriating when there’s chaos. Not to mention, there are a mix of melee enemies that should usually be dispatched with your katana, but you also still have to take cover and dodge any incoming fire from a handful of other gun wielding soldiers.
How can you have a cover mechanic game while you’re still being shot up and melee’d at the same time? The combat is not as fluid as you’d think. There are so many martial arts and action movie influences that this game is trying to portray but it’s slow to execute. Pair this with sluggish controls and bullet sponge enemies, and you got yourself an unentertaining mess.
Soleil tried to give the player options when it comes to how players can control the action and combat preference while in action. I just found myself shooting most enemies and only used my katana when someone decided to rush my safe zone. Even then, bullets are limited, which also left me stuck with very little to no ammo to use against enemies shooting me from a mile away. The rest of Stones team joins you in every firefight as support.
They’re a good distraction for some enemies in each room, but they can also be a hindrance. Maybe it’s just me, but I found myself shooting at my teammates often, thinking they were the enemy. Wound up wasting ammo and sanity since I didn’t notice their generic designs resembled some enemies while I’m scrambling to take cover or attack my next target.
The only saving grace between rooms is the reset of med packs and ammo of whatever Stone is carrying. If you’re not careful with how you spend your ammo and cover time, you will go through those packs rather quickly. This is what I feel some players will appreciate. It’s difficulty. Players must take their time and plan out their next move. This is not a hack and slash where you can run gung-ho and hope for the best.
Although the art style is going for a more realistic look, Stone and some of the other characters’ facial animations are just as stone-cold and emotionless as those old-school arcade shooters. Major moments in the game’s cutscenes try to come off as epic, eventful, or dramatic. It just doesn’t work when characters look like PS3-era generic builds. Even the level designs come off as basic and unimaginative. Either everything is too shiny or bereft of any unique world-building detail. The only thing interesting is Stone’s cyberpunk style wear.
Unless you’re looking for a challenge, in more than just gameplay, avoid this game. I’m disappointed that the makers of such quality action and fighting games resorted to mixing everything they knew into one badly rendered hybrid. Wanted: Dead has no identity. Not one piece of gameplay mechanics or character development stands out. I can’t enjoy a game that portrays itself as high octane, fast hack-and-slash, shooting action, but then have me be methodical, slow, and perfectly accurate at the same time. This game is simply not wanted.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Wanted: Dead for PC provided by Soleil.