Wanted: Dead Review – A Stylish Slice of Action

Wanted: Dead Review

There was a time, back in the sixth generation of consoles when over-the-top, hack-and-slash titles dominated the market. God of War, Devil May Cry and a number of other games gave you the tools to dissect enemies in a variety of ways to create adrenaline-filled moments of violence. Developed by the team that brought you the incredible Ninja Gaiden series, Wanted: Dead is a brutal throwback but can the blood-soaked title capture the essence that imbued the era?

Set in a cyberpunk version of Hong Kong, you take on the role of Lt. Hannah Stone, an imprisoned officer. In a last-ditch attempt to settle a global war, a decision is made to create an elite team: The Zombie Squad. Your task is to lead the group in unearthing a major conspiracy and win the battle. While the premise is conventional, its delivery isn’t. Scenes drift from standard cutscenes to beautifully animated sequences that contain the quality of a published anime. Unfortunately, even though the presentation and characters build intrigue, the voice acting and dialogue are enough to diminish interest in the narrative. The banter between the cast is rigid and awkward and vocal lines fall flat at almost every opportunity. 

A Cut Above

The game excels with its combat. Following the ethos that permeates the Ninja Gaiden franchise, mastery is key. You must learn the many elements in order to attack and defend intelligently. Doing so will help you to stylishly annihilate the vast number of foes you encounter. Your most effective weapon is the katana. You can literally slice the limbs off of the opposition to create extravagant fountains of blood on the battlefield. Combining the sword with your pistol is a great way to create combos. Adversaries can quickly swarm you, so the pistol becomes a vital parry attack that allows you to break the action of an opponent.

As well as visceral melee, Wanted: Dead also features comprehensive use of weaponry. Staples from third-person shooters are present and allow you to get into cover, and hop over barricades to get the perfect shot. You gain access to a range of weapons which enhances your options to eviscerate enemies. 

Foes come thick and fast and due to this, you must vary your method of attack in order to be successful. Some are particularly weak to strikes whereas others are better to incapacitate through incendiaries and other firearms. The enemy variety is strong and due to their recognizable attire, you can quickly plan how to tackle encounters. As you beat the life out of characters, they can enter a stunned stage. At this point, you can unleash a barbaric assassination which creates incredible sequences that could have been taken directly from The Raid. It is an absolute thrill to set up several enemies, then execute them all in one slick move. Due to Soleil Games’ intuitive algorithm that assesses the environment, weapons and positioning. assassinations vary which avoids repetition.

Just Another Victim

Bosses and larger grunts are tough and can kill you with only a couple of hits. Due to this, you must be quick to avoid damage and death. You have the ability to roll and evade harm or block oncoming strikes and counter with a lethal blow. Certain hits can slash a huge chunk of your health which can cause frustration; however, If you take out enemies quickly, you can regain health which adds a lovely risk/reward feature to combat. Timing is essential and it can be difficult to perfect this as the window is small. However, there is an option to increase this in the skill tree. Along with a range of other elements, you can choose to improve support, defensive and offensive abilities to improve your prowess on the battleground. 

To break up the violence, you can also take part in a number of mini-games. You can showcase your vocal skills in button-prompt focused karaoke or even fly through space in the R-Type-inspired space shooter. These can be accessed on the main menu or in the hub area where you can also collect items to learn about the characters and scenario or interact with others.

The Dance of Death

The visuals are inconsistent. At times, the game has a lovely polish which gives it that triple-A feel and other times re-used assets make it feel of a different era. The protagonist is particularly large compared to certain members of the supporting cast and some character models appear a little generic. Animations however are fantastic. Complex maneuvers are wonderfully captured to give the game a cinematic edge which makes you feel like a total badass.

Wanted: Dead successfully captures what made action games incredible in the sixth and seventh generations of consoles. Its combat options are deep and due to this, cutting up enemies never gets old. While the narrative shifts into beautiful hand-drawn anime, the voice acting and dialogue halt interest in the unremarkable narrative. However, fans of third-person action games who want a gameplay-focused experience should take stab at this one.

***PlayStation 5 code provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Intense Combat
  • Brutal Assassinations
  • Challenging and Rewarding

The Bad

  • Dodgy Voice Acting
  • Dull Narrative
  • Frustrating One-Hit Kills