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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Wanted: Dead

GP Rating

Developed by the team behind Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive, Wanted: Dead (currently available in the Steam sale) has all the ingredients of what should be an excellent action-adventure game that combines shooting and close-combat mechanics in a cyberpunk setting.

Players take on the role of Hannah Stone, the commander of an elite anti-terrorism hit squad –basically a SWAT team, but without their restraint – as they investigate a series of incidents that ultimately lead to an explosive conclusion.

Wanted: Dead wears its influences on its sleeve: there are distinct elements of classic action games from early 2000s and anime films like Tokyo Gore Police.  The aesthetics and art style are evocative of Parasite Eve 2.

Wanted: Dead sounds like a perfect game, until you start playing and realise that it has fundamental flaws that need to be addressed.

The combined close combat and shooting mechanics work reasonably well.  The game is played in the third-person, but switches to first-person when aiming.  However, it soon becomes apparent that ranged weapons are hopelessly ineffective, to the point of being redundant, so survival is dependent upon closing in on the opponents as quickly as possible.

Gameplay is also simplistic; quite often it involves rushing to the enemy, to avoid taking too much damage, and then bashing as many attack buttons as possible.  Combos are available, with some only being available by spending XP when levelling up.

The core character design and art style between missions has an appropriately grungy cyberpunk feel, but everything else feels generic.  Likewise, the types of enemies are also incredibly limited and the gameplay soon descends into killing wave after wave of similar faceless foes.

This is also a hard game, and punishingly hard at that.  This becomes frustratingly so, as save points are limited.  If players happen to die after a series of pitched battles (and they will), then they will have to restart the entire level.  After this has happened several times, having fought the same faceless enemies, what should be a visceral and adrenaline-fueled experience quickly becomes dull.

The tutorial could also have been improved.  It covers all the usual combat mechanics (block, dodge, combos, etc) helpfully enough, but fails to tell players how health can be regained – this is only mentioned in the tips on the loading screens.

Whilst the developers have crafted a compelling setting and story, the characterisation feels needlessly misogynistic and the characters seemingly never face any consequences for their actions.  That said, the character designs are exceptional and another character, who is mute and communicates using sign language, is presented without any comment and is accepted for who they are.

More than anything else, Wanted: Dead needed more development time in order to create a playable game.  With the appropriate patching and DLC, Wanted: Dead has the potential to be a fast-paced action experience, but as the game currently stands, it is poorly designed and implemented.

Peter Ray Allison
Peter Ray Allisonhttp://www.peterallison.net
Science Fiction: the final frontier. These are the articles of the freelance journalist Peter Ray Allison. His continuing mission: to explore strange new realms of fiction, to seek out new genres and new visions of the future, to boldly geek where no one has geeked before.

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Wanted: Dead has the potential to be a fast-paced action experience, but as the game currently stands, it is poorly designed and implemented.Wanted: Dead