Wanted: Dead

released on Feb 14, 2023

Wanted: Dead promises "spectacular melee combat and exciting gunplay," and is set in a "dark and dangerous version of science-fiction Hong Kong where you will need sharpened skills to survive."

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Pure unadulterated 6th gen zoomer filter
Wait, this was released just this year? How could this be?
In all seriousness though, I’m never trusting a journalist’s review ever again. I had interest in Wanted: Dead until I saw IGN’s 4/10 review calling it a bad game. I know not to trust these publications positive reviews, but usually when reviews are this low, there’s something very wrong. That’s not the case with Wanted: Dead.
Wanted: Dead is not only good, but it’s great; A beautiful seamless blend of cover shooting and hack n slash. The shooting is responsive and features great feedback. The melee combat is simple, yet engaging and challenging. Mixing these together could result in a mess, but the enemy variety, balancing and health system makes it harmonious.
Staying in cover blasting away results in running out of ammo and health. Much like Doom (2016) and Eternal, running away and hiding will get you killed. You heal from preforming the melee takedown animations and regular melee attacks. You can still use the cover shooting mechanics in an attempt to take out enemies at long range or thin out the horde, but the melee combat is what allows the player to regain health and build adrenalin. Adrenalin is basically your devil trigger or god hand, activating it shoots nearby enemies with your handgun leaving them open for a “glory kill”.
As for the melee combat itself, the only comparison I can make is Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Parry enemies’ basic strings and then use the handgun counter on the moves that flash red. It’s simple and it could have used a few more types of enemies. At least there are bosses that have unique strings and abilities.
My biggest complaint with Wanted: Dead is that it doesn’t evolve much. The game doesn’t change much past the first level. Sure, there’s new enemies and a skill tree that unlocks new moves, but the lack of any real level design, platforming, or puzzles makes it more paced like a beat ‘em up than a traditional 6th gen character action game like Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden. Still, I didn’t find myself getting bored. It throws waves and waves of enemies at you with new combinations.
The checkpoints are stretched really far apart. It can be frustrating (especially a certain one of level 4) but overall I think it ties in well with the design they were going for. Wanted: Dead also has some jank but who cares? I don’t know why people get so upset about this. I glitched out of bounds twice, some of the animations froze during the glory kills, the chainsaw can miss right through enemies, a few times I couldn’t pickup a med kit, but if you’re gonna let that get in your way you’re not playing video games for the right reasons.
Wanted: Dead’s world is bursting with personality. There’s multiple goofy mini games and strange yet compelling voice acting.
Lieutenant Stone’s VA specifically is strange. Theres a few lines delivered poorly, but her unique tone makes it memorable. With all the extra side content I barely touched, I’m surprised how short the game was. It’s set up like a much longer game, complete with an HQ area and challenge arena, but it only lasted 7 hours for me. The story starts as a confusing mess without any structure, but eventually in the penultimate level, the twists and turns make sense of most of it without spelling it all out.
The devs of Wanted: Dead proclaimed it to be a “love letter to the 6th generation of games” and that’s absolutely what it is, warts and all. I cannot fathom someone playing this game and legitimately thinking it’s “bad”. It’s straightforward challenging fun. Get filtered.

ummmmmm idk im a stupid bitch whats the word ... its godardian ... ?
more kusoge action games you can beat in 1 sitting pls

one minute you're blowing legs off with a shotgun, using counters to stagger androids, and doing elaborate gun kata glory kills, and the next you're in a ramen eating contest, learning about the gunsmith's twelve cats, triggering an anime cutscene, or hearing about the anthropic principle. ever wanna watch stefanie joosten bake? today's your lucky day
it's a wild game, bursting with the kind of unhinged personality we don't see too often. a chaotic little mess that feels like soliel gleefully crammed in every idea they possibly could before making due with the odd beast they cobbled together. I love it, but I can't imagine how this thing got made, and I don't take for granted that it did. sure, hannah stone has the most bizarre voice acting since rutger hauer in observer, and the game spends more time on small talk than telling its story... but it works, and I wouldn't have it any other way
combat starts off a lil rocky, I made it 18 mins into the game initially before setting it down and going to bed. it does the vanquish cover shooter fakeout bit and hides major crucial mechanics behind a skill tree, so your first steps are bound to be a bit wobbly until you align yourself with what the game wants from you. thankfully, by the end of the first level you'll have everything you need unlocked to make the most of things: a better guard, a riposte, longer combos, grenades, and charge attacks all come around to make everything make a lot more sense. the parry starts to click, the gun counters click, and suddenly you're carving through rooms of people like it's nothing, leaving a trail of bisected and limbless grunts in your wake
it doesn't require a labcoat, but it works on the same level as something like binary domain: it's fun, it's satisfying, and it keeps things moving. there's a decent ceiling to work with if you're so inclined, but your options are kept limited enough that it's less about expression and more about optimization and prioritization. still, it's more than enough to carry everything to the finish line, and well worth trying japanese hard difficulty once you do. if you're anything like me you'll find it easier than your first run, all the tricks and quirks so well understood by that point that even the limited toolset of the early game can't hold you back anymore
between each mission you'll get all the weird bits: the minigames, the diner cutscenes, the character interactions that get into dating lives and crass anecdotes. play a claw machine, try your hand at a shooting gallery, pick up optional documents that occasionally trigger full cutscenes. there's not a ton to do, but it's varied enough, brisk enough, and entertaining enough that the downtime never feels like filler. you're gonna have a hard time wrapping your head around the story no matter how hard you pay attention, so you might as well enjoy the zombie unit's goofy interactions and roll with the game's loose approach to structure and form
it's worth mentioning there're some bugs and iffy bits here and there. performance can be all over the place, the third level's audio mixing is nothing short of deranged, and enemies sometimes decide to fuck off and run to the start of maps or disappear into geometry. I'm pretty patient with this kinda stuff personally, but 110 swear up and down that there's a big patch and roadmap coming so it might be best waiting until it does
all in all, it's exactly what I expected while somehow being more of that than even the trailers gave away: a rough, uncompromising passion project that nods back to AA action games from when we still took them for granted. I wish it was a bit longer, had a touch more depth, and wasn't so technically wonky in places, but all my complaints are small potatoes when I look back at how much I enjoyed everything
I've played a lot of shit this year but there's not much I'll remember more fondly than turning around after blaring the 99 luftballoons karaoke segment thru my speakers and realizing my partner had been watching skinamarink a few feet away the whole time it was happening
the perfect dumb ass moment for this perfectly dumb ass game

DISCLAIMER before I gush about this game:
This game has maybe the worst voice acting I’ve heard in a game since the original Resident Evil, the script is bizarre with more focus on weird character moments than the plot, the combat isn’t super deep, there aren’t endless unlockable weapons and combos, it’s extremely linear with no platforming or exploration, and the game is pretty short at around 6 hours for a first playthrough.
Now with all of that out of the way: I adore this game and it’s disappointing seeing so many mainstream critics seemingly not even give this a chance. This is especially difficult when the industry is in desperate need of more throwback action games like this.
This game meshes pretty standard third person cover shooting systems seamlessly with visceral melee combat. You are armed with a katana to parry enemies, slash and block. You also have an assault rifle at all times which you can customize with various attachments as you progress. You’re secondary weapon is whatever you pick up from slain enemies and can range from shotguns, LMGs, grenade launchers to rocket launchers. Your third gun is your sidearm that you also have at all times but it operates with a face button you tap to fire a quick shot to stagger enemies, keep your combo going or break enemy charge attacks. A few rare occasions will also let you go to work with a huge chainsaw.
As you progress you’ll unlock various abilities that keep the gameplay fresh like a charge attack, slide attack, grenades and even bullet time. None of these are super deep and I kinda wish there were a few more combos or juggles but everything is fluid and useful.
The biggest draw to the combat is the stylish finishing moves that are usually jiu jitsui take downs. It’s all awesomely gory gun-fu and this is the closest thing we have so far to a John Wick video game.
Gameplay pretty much consists of pushing forward killing enemies room by room till you reach the next checkpoint or end of level boss. The enemies range from different knife wielding enemies, synthetics, gunners, ninjas and large foes in mech suits. It’s not a ton of variety but there’s just enough and enough remixed combinations of enemies to keep you on your toes. The first boss fight is meh but I thought all the others were really good.
This is a weird game that leans into its quirkiness with several mini games to break up all the combat. These include karaoke, ramen eating, an arcade cabinet and a gun range similar to RE4’s. They’re all nice distractions and are accessible at all times to go back and try to beat your previous score. There are also training levels that are scored and new game plus with additional difficulties to give some replay value and make up for the relatively short length of the campaign.
The story isn’t fleshed out much at all but there are a ton of revelations and plot threads left dangling in the last few minutes of the game so I really pray this game can find a cult following and a way to get a sequel made.
This game may not be the most polished and definitely isn’t to everyone’s taste but fans of 6th gen character action games should definitely give this a shot. The difficulty is pretty high on normal but I’m really looking forward to playing again on hard and Japanese hard. This is my sleeper hit of the year so far.

peak クソゲ
Wanted: Dead is a total mess, but it's lovably idiosyncratic.
It's clearly trying to emulate the trappings of PS2 action games and PS3 cover shooters - and it manages to capture both the design ethos and the charm of those old titles.
I'm not trying to convince you this is secretly a really good game - it's not - but I loved my time with it all the same.

what a goddamn mess. i wonder what led to this game having like 10 different directions, all eventually coalescing into one extremely entertaining, frustrating, and insane whole. there are like 5 different plots happening at once, and none of them get that much time for themselves.
- it feels like you're seeing the logical end to events in the lives of the cast; an end represented by slightly underwhelming action setpieces that are executed with mild disinterest (apart from the literal bloodbaths) coming from the game.
- it's like you're experiencing a deranged outsourced sequel to a blockbuster drama that really wants to make some callbacks to show good faith to the audience.
- it's impossible to find anything other than pure sincerity here.
- it's honestly beautiful.