Everything about Wanted: Dead made it seem like the kind of game I would love, but the best word to describe it would be ‘meh’. The action and combat? Meh. The level design and structure? Meh. The visuals? Meh. Whilst I wouldn’t say anything in the game is outright awful (and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have cool moments), it also felt like one of the more underwhelming releases that I’ve played in recent years.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Wanted: Dead puts players in the role of Hannah Stone, a member of the Hong Kong police’s ‘Zombie Unit’ that is made up of brutal members that’ll go to any length to get the job done. It’s up to you to investigate some sketchy corporation to get to the bottom of some villainous conspiracy… or something. The storytelling is so frantic, silly, and, at times, messy, that it’s easy to find yourself baffled as you follow its many narrative threads. But you know what? I still liked it. It’s over-the-top and zany, and sometimes that’s all you want from an action-game like this. And hey, it has got some really cool characters too (especially Hannah), so it’s easy to appreciate the ‘Zombie Unit’ as a whole.

The action of Wanted: Dead takes a shooter-slasher hybrid approach, meaning players will be able to pick off enemies from afar with their guns or get up-close and personal to unleash fierce combos with their melee weaponry. Unfortunately, using guns isn’t as effective as I’d like, with ammo not only sparse but enemies also built like bullet sponges. I unloaded close to a whole magazine into one standard enemy before it went down at one point, with it proving easier to run up close and take them out with your sword. There’s a decent cover system in place that would seemingly encourage gunplay, but these hindrances just make it feel ineffective. There are even ways to customise your loadout and weaponry, but again, the end result always felt the same, with players stuck with firearms that just don’t seem to pack much punch.

At least using your sword is a lot more satisfying, whilst slicing and dicing enemies always looks slick and gory. Whilst mashing out combos with your sword, parrying attacks, and stunning foes to hit finishing moves is effective for the most part, you’re also able to unlock new abilities that can make you feel unstoppable as you progress. Don’t get me wrong, the swordplay never feels as intuitive or rewarding as it does in the likes of Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry, but it definitely highlights the more positive aspects of Wanted: Dead’s shooter-slasher mechanics.

“The storytelling is so frantic, silly, and, at times, messy, that it’s easy to find yourself baffled as you follow its many narrative threads. But you know what? I still liked it.”

It’s a shame then that the boring level design never complements it all that much. Whilst you will venture through some cool locales throughout the game, they’re mostly made up of some repetitive areas that simply throw loads of enemies your way to kill, with progression locked behind their death. In fairness, Wanted: Dead was designed to embrace this old-school approach, but this only works if the combat is super slick and rewarding… unfortunately, that isn’t always the case here. It doesn’t help that the enemies are rarely interesting, whilst the boss battles can feel a little cheap. In fairness, some of the boss encounters stand out as some of the game’s coolest moments and bring some interesting mechanics to the fray, but others will prove frustrating and long thanks to some inconsistent attack patterns and unfair moments which seem to actively work against you.

I feel like I’m being a bit hard on the game, because I can’t say anything was outright awful – I did have some fun when playing, whilst there are some genuinely exciting set pieces thrown in here and there. It’s just so inconsistent and flawed, with almost every aspect of the game’s main design proving to be JUST mediocre and repetitive. Add to that some dumb AI, iffy checkpoints, and visuals that wouldn’t look out of place ten years ago, and you’ll quickly find that the game’s real positives can be few and far between.

There is one area it shines though: its mini-games. As I mentioned, Wanted: Dead never takes itself too seriously, with the mini-games seeing players show off their singing skills in karaoke, try to nab some prizes in a claw game, play through an old-school arcade shooter, and even… uh… eat ramen. Each mini-game has its own little mechanics to embrace, and honestly, they’re a fun little endeavour that break up the monotony of the main game nicely.

Check out some screenshots down below:

I think I went into Wanted: Dead with the hope that it would be something special, especially since it is billed as being from ‘the makers of Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive’, but instead I’ve been left underwhelmed. The combat was never as fast-paced or exciting as I wanted it to be, enemies and bosses were inconsistent throughout, whilst the core gameplay loop just got a little dull due to some repetitive mechanics. It’d be something if the guns felt good to use, but their inefficiency left me begrudging using them. Things just don’t end up clicking into place, but instead leave the whole experience feeling a bit tiresome.

Wanted: Dead Review

Wanted: Dead has some cool ideas on show, but some dull combat mechanics and repetitive gameplay leave it feeling a bit rough to play. I wouldn’t say anything is outright bad in the game and it does have its cool moments, but they’re few and far between when compared to the more monotonous aspects of the experience.

Swordplay can be cool, the narrative is silly (in a good way), and the mini-games are quirky and fun, but that’s about all Wanted: Dead has going for it. Everything else? Well, like I said at the start of this review, it’s all a bit ‘meh’.

Developer: Soleil Ltd
Publisher: 110 Industries
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Website: https://wanteddeadgame.com/