Developed by some of the creators of Ninja Gaiden, Wanted: Dead is 3rd person action shooter primarily aimed at players who feel particularly nostalgic of the golden era of linear action games. The game is set in a dystopian future where the Hong Kong police department is formed by mercenaries and war criminals who for some reason have been converted to police officers. As Lieutenant Hannah Stone, you will lead the Zombie Unit in a set of missions with the aim of uncovering a major conspiracy filled with corrupted corporations, androids, giant robots and other cyberpunk stereotypes. Unfortunately, the plot is nothing amazing and most players will quickly get bored by it. It has a bit of charm, mainly because of some unexpected nonsense moments and the design of some characters, but it’s nothing you have already seen, especially if you are used to more weird Japanese games (like the ones from creator Suda51). Characters are introduced very quickly with not enough description, but the worst aspect is their voice acting, which is awful (you can immediately hear it through the protagonist’s voice). Mediocre dialogues and wooden facial animations also don’t help characters to express themselves in a good way. Despite being a Japanese game, English is the only language available for voice overs and that probably makes it worse. Stefanie Joosten is in the game playing a recurrent side character (she was Quiet in MGS V: The Phantom Pain) but this clearly isn’t her best performance. For some reason, there are also some cheap anime cutscenes that don’t really mix well with the super realistic graphics and will only make things more confusing.
The focus of Wanted: Dead is obviously the gameplay. Developers tried to combine fast-paced melee combat with cover-based gunplay. Essentially, a mix of Binary Domain and Metal Gear Rising. Stone’s basic weapons are a katana, a rifle and a pistol, each one tied to specific buttons. The game wants you to take cover when being surrounded by enemies and slice through them when you don’t have enough ammo or when they get close enough. Still, there is no reason to prefer guns over melee combat. The gunplay is terrible and it’s easier to run, roll and slash enemies with your sword or combine it with your pistol (like John Wick) to quickly chain combos. When an enemy has very low health you can also perform a bloody and spectacular finishing move. After playing a couple of hours though, you will realize that this is all the gameplay has to offer. Sure, there is a simple ability tree from which you can unlock more skills (like grenades), but it’s not enough to make combat engaging in the long run. Movements also feel very janky, so you don’t get much satisfaction by using your sword either. Due to the lack of diversity in the enemy types, the gameplay can become monotonous after just a couple of hours, with the only exception being bosses who require parries and counters, making fights somewhat enjoyable despite all the combat issues. You will always fight with your Unit alongside you, but they are only good to distract the enemy and you will do most of the work by yourself.
The PC version is greatly optimized and runs flawlessly even at max settings, but the graphics aren’t really much impressive, especially compared to other modern action-shooter games). Not only levels are linear, but they also lack details and feel too similar one to the other. The most bothering issue though is the low quality of facial animations, which basically ruins every single cutscene.
Wanted: Dead is a game that can only attract players nostalgic of old linear games, particularly those who enjoy weird action games like Binary Domain or No More Heroes. It’s ridiculous on purpose, but also involuntary, and you won’t feel involved in the story no matter what. Its mechanics are enough to make the game playable and you will probably enjoy slicing enemies with your katana, but there isn’t enough progression and the low variety of enemies will quickly make combat monotonous.
Review written by Sonic Punk for Zeepond.com
Positives+ Some weird but charming moments
+ Slicing enemies with your katana feels good
Negatives- Janky movements, dated mechanics and terrible gunplay
- Characters’ voices and facial animations are seriously bad
- Linear and basic level design
Wanted: Dead delivers mediocre storytelling and combat experience, but it’s still worth a try if you enjoy old school 3rd person action games.
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Zeepond Rating: 5/10
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