Before we dive into this article, I want to mention that I was initially thrilled about Wanted: Dead based on its early marketing material. However, I cannot overlook the fundamental design of the game. In the following paragraphs, I’ll elaborate more on my thoughts.

Wanted: Dead presents a challenge, as I strongly suspect that there may be a cult classic buried within the game. Still, unfortunately, it has not managed to captivate me in any significant manner.

The game is marketed as a fresh blend of slasher and shooter, developed by the creators of the acclaimed titles Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive. It is touted as a tribute to the sixth generation of consoles, encompassing consoles such as the original Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo GameCube. For those unfamiliar with gaming history, the sixth generation refers to the era of video game consoles when Ninja Gaiden was first released in 2004. The game continues to set the standard for hack-and-slash games even today.

I was initially thrilled about Wanted: Dead due to the exceptional quality which should come from a statement like “from the makers of Ninja Gaiden.” Although the game features some visually stunning elements, the gameplay fails to measure up to the standards set by a title that is now 19 years old at the time of writing this review.

There are instances when everything seamlessly converges, with chaos unfolding in perfectly illuminated environments, characterised by flawless character animations and just the right amount of blood gushing from enemies. In these moments, I am inclined to overlook the game’s inadequacies. However, at the end of the day, the camera pans and focuses on the enemy you’re executing, concealing the unsightly and poorly designed environment.

If you were expecting Wanted: Dead to be a 1980s anime version of Dark Souls, you might be correct in your assumptions, but for reasons that miss the mark.

Once you invest the time required to develop the necessary reflexes, the game starts to come together. The gameplay becomes much more enjoyable when you possess a solid grasp of enemy attack timing and can confidently execute parries. However, the process of learning these timings often resulted in me repeatedly dying, being revived, and then dying again – Combat doesn’t come together stylishly. All that happens is you’re ending the cycle of respawning.

The Chainsaw, a temporary weapon but crazy fun.

It’s important to note that Gears of War debuted on the Xbox 360 in 2006, with few cover-based shooters preceding it. To be objective regarding this sub-genre, only a limited number of games execute it exceptionally well, even today. The shooting mechanics in this game don’t do it justice. If anything, they feel hastily assembled to lengthen the storyline, which only spans eight hours.

Throughout my playthrough of Wanted: Dead, I often encountered situations where I would approach an object which looked like cover, only to find that my character could not use it as intended. This problem also affected enemies, as their AI seemed uncertain about how to proceed in such scenarios.

It is difficult to recommend Wanted: Dead, particularly given the abundance of exceptional titles being released this month, all exceeding expectations in their respective genres. 

Once more, I am uncertain whether there is a potential cult favourite lurking within this game, beneath the use of uninspired design choices, or if the creators at Soleil are operating at such an advanced level that I am unable to fully comprehend this game’s brilliance.

Simply put, if you’re looking for a game featuring hack-and-slash or samurai aesthetics, you would be better off investing in Like a Dragon: Ishin! or Wild Hearts. While no cover-based shooters are being released this month, replaying Gears of War is still a superior option.

Launch Trailer

Written and edited by Colin.