Remember The Third of the Devil? Former Dead or alive Weirdo Tomonobu Itagaki’s 2015 Wii U exclusive combined elements of war implements And Ninja Gaiden to create something pretty outlandish, but unlike anything else I was playing at the time. The Third of the Devil ultimately flopped, but the idea of a character action game with first-person shooting and third-person brawling popped into my head in hopes that someone, somewhere, would try again. Only now has finally Wanted dead took the call. It’s the craziest, wackiest game of 2023 and I’m glad it’s picked up.
Developed by the people who worked on it Dead or alive And Ninja Gaiden, Wanted dead is a hybrid shooter slasher that feels like the evolutionary next step The Third of the Devil. You play as Hannah Stone, a hardened convict-turned-cop tasked with… well, the story is kind of irrelevant. It has something to do with a tech company that makes artificial humanoid workers and sells them to various global military powers because of capitalism, but the narrative takes a backseat to the game’s actual premise: a week in the life of one suicide squad-like unit sent in to do the job. Veteran officers are too fearful or unable to handle it. So, wielding an assault rifle, handgun, katana, and a plethora of other weapons, you’ll pummel with blazing guns and swinging swords, dice or fill people and plastics (‘synthesizers’) with lead as you uncover the relationship between the real and the wrong.
how does it look in action? If you can imagine The corporate divisionThe cover-based shooting mechanic of chimed in Ninja Gaiden‘s hyper-violent sword-wielding, you’ll start to get the picture. Basically, you can switch between melee and ranged combat on the fly, attacking enemies with both styles individually or simultaneously.
To be more specific, Hannah Stone is a skilled swordsman and a skilled marksman; She can wield a pistol in her right hand and a katana in her left to pull off some brutal, albeit equal, combos. She can also step back to fire her assault rifle to thin out the herd before chopping up the rest of the thugs. It’s crispy and satisfying when Hannah, nimble as she is, dashes across the battlefield to chop off one guy’s head, shoot another in the leg to initiate one of over 50 unique finishing moves, and then another guy in Swiss cheese transformed. It’s cyberpunk Ninja Gaiden with guns, except Hannah isn’t a ninja. She’s just a person with a robotic arm, a terrible smoking habit, and a bunch of really crazy characters around her.
It is the relationship between these characters, Hannah’s three other comrades in the zombie unit, that form the main component of Wanted dead‘s madness. Hannah’s team, all fellow inmates, is wild. Between Alexander “Doc” Flotsky’s overly sarcastic demeanor, Arnold “The Beast” Herzog’s unwarranted womanizing, and Manolo Cortez’s outspoken attitude, the Zombie Unit is this ragtag group of misfits who somehow get along, if only because the Captain tells them to has.
But really, it’s the activities they engage in when they’re not at work and the conversations they have while they’re out that make room Wanted deadis madness. For example, after a cutscene where Hannah has her assault rifle tweaked by the gunsmith (played by Stefanie Joosten, who portrayed Quiet in ). Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain), you are suddenly thrust into a randomly narrated sequence about the history of ramen.
Immediatelyand after, Wanted dead presents you his first yakuza-style rhythmic mini-game: a ramen-eating contest with Duke where you have to push your buttons to eat a bowl of noodles. If you shell fast enough, you’ll get another shell that adds another row of buttons. I never really figured out what the score at the end meant because I was too busy laughing at how upsetting it all felt; Right after the ramen meal was over, it went back to turning jerks into minced meat.
That makes Wanted dead So bananas: the nonsensical juxtaposition between the campy and the violent. This is a game that doesn’t really take itself too seriously, despite the political intrigue that forms the backdrop. It throws up a sobering plot point about the love of two synths, only to immediately drop it for an over-the-top boss fight featuring a flaming sword-wielding moron. Or there’s a debate about “cuck culture” at the gang’s favorite restaurant that’s abruptly cut short Wanted deadis second yakuza-style rhythm mini-game: a sing-along to “99 balloons‘ by the German new wave power pop band Nena. As if the game wasn’t badass enough, Sam Barlow-esque cutscenes are interspersed between the combat and cutscenes immortality and anime cinematics reminiscent of Studio Trigger Cyberpunk: Edgerunner. It’s cool, it doesn’t make sense and I don’t care. Wanted dead is the most fun I’ve had with a game this year.
That’s not to say the game isn’t without real bugs. While combat is enjoyable, especially after you’ve maxed out Hannah’s abilities and pressed New Game +, it can become predictable and rudimentary after a while. Shooting is not as accurate as in war implements or Fourteen days, at best serviceable. The action figure-like character models are odd, with extremely dead eyes and oddly shiny skin. The voice acting is horrendous and gives me the most energy I’ve heard in a minute. And enemies are both bloody stupid and obnoxiously talkative, constantly taunting you while for the most part just standing around while you dismember them one by one. Some enemies present a decent challenge, like the ninja rip-offs that look like snake eyes, but most of the others are fodder. The challenge comes mostly from a handful of tougher bosses, the rare checkpoints, and the buggy.
About the. Developer Soleil bills Wanted dead as a “love letter to the sixth generation of consoles”, meaning GameCube, OG Xbox and PlayStation 2. And like some games on these old systems, Wanted dead has sparse checkpoints scattered throughout its five levels. If you die, you’ll reset to around 10 minutes, which means you’ll repeatedly fight the same enemies only to return to your previous point. Combine that fact with the multitude of bugs, from glitches in inaccessible rooms to inconsistent frame drops leading to unintended damage to outright game crashes, and you’ll see the same handful of brown corridors and drab buildings over and over again, while doing this, a katana combo or two equals ad nauseam. This can be frustrating, but it’s bearable thanks to the game’s fairly competent combat.
I went for a drink with some friends the other day. In a dimly lit and loudly crowded bar in New York, one of them asked what I was playing. While I was busy with Team Ninja’s Wo Long: The Fallen Dynasty Lately, I’ve been pouring into the mindful group for about 10 minutes instead Wanted deadand called it one of the most memorable games of 2023. And I wholeheartedly stand by that statement, even though February isn’t over yet and I (I think…) have two beers in..
Is it a good game? That’s subjective. I could say it’s a bad game as it’s buggy and choppy, but I don’t think that’s right either. It’s a mid-game, honestly, but it’s mid-game in the best possible way. It’s a game of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, knowing that there’s no velcro on the wall to stick to. Wanted dead is bold in putting all these disparate ideas together, and while it doesn’t win any awards, it’s staying with me.
https://kotaku.com/wanted-dead-review-ps5-game-ninja-gaiden-devils-third-1850146518 Say hello to Wanted Dead, the jankiest game of 2023 (which I like a lot)