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Wanted: Dead Review (PS4, PS 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S & PC)

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The creators of Dead or Alive and the Ninja Gaiden series are back at it again with a new rendition of the hybrid slasher/shooter action sub-genre called Wanted: Dead. Just from the fact that Wanted: Dead is so closely associated with such highly celebrated action entries of all time meant that the gaming community was more than eager to get their hands on it. 

Surely, the many years since Ninja Gaiden graced our screens, and the wealth of gaming technology today’s consoles offer, should evidently show on the new game, further elevating the slasher/shooter gaming experience beyond what we could possibly comprehend. But, oh well. Hate to break it to you but your high expectations will likely be beyond crushed. 

Wondering how Wanted: Dead could have missed the mark when they have such successful predecessors to draw inspiration from? Or, why the ratings, so far, are just so damn low? Make sure to stick around till the end to find out what’s to like, love, and hate in this Wanted: Dead review that doesn’t stray any further from the truth of the matter.

The Meat to the Bone

Wanted: Dead revolves around an elite squad, curated to bring down a major corporate conspiracy. It’s pretty much like the story of Suicide Squad, where a bunch of police serving life sentences are given the chance to redeem themselves in a seemingly impossible mission. Consequently, the infamous elite police squad is tagged the name, “Zombie Squad.”

Wanted: Dead is set in Hong Kong, and like Suicide Squad, features the retelling of each character’s perks, background… you know, the good ol’ character development ingredient to a successful game. We’re let into each character’s lives via cutscenes, anime flashbacks, personnel files, and lots, and lots of eat outs.

There’s no easier way to say this: Wanted: Dead barely understands plot development. Each eat out is unnecessarily long with banter that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Would you even call it banter if the characters don’t seem to bounce off of each other’s energy? The plot is disjointed, with each conversation feeling like pieces to a puzzle neither we nor the characters themselves understand. 

For the most part, it feels regurgitated from some movie I can’t quite put a finger on. The likes that spend its entirety goofing around without actually addressing the themes and issues that brought us to this point in time. Just get ready for too much than necessary ramen, karaoke, and anime scenes with 70% “attempts” at comedy writing and far less bearing on the actual plot, character, or theme development.

The voice acting doesn’t help much either. You can even hear a European accent in there, which just doesn’t make any sense. Before you have the time to grasp what’s happening, Hannah Stone, the mysterious playable character, gets thrust into an action scene to take out some criminals nearby. Who or why this matters, I have no clue.

Seriously. Seriously. The Meat to the Bone. 

wanted: dead

Okay. So, the story doesn’t really take us anywhere. Maybe the combat, which is what we’re here for anyway, will? Lieutenant Stone dones a sword and a machine gun. Hence, the slasher/shooter concept. There are other weapons, of course. A pistol, an assault rifle, SMGs, rocket launchers, and even a chainsaw that you can use to chop up enemies in a hedge maze.

As cyborg protagonist Hannah Stone, you’ll have freedom of switching between the katana and whichever gun. Note to self, the bullets don’t land, and when they do, they don’t do much damage, so probably stick to the sword. You’ll slice, dice, and dodge, on repeat, earning as much XP as you can, so you can unlock more powerful weapons and moves.

It’s not all wasted effort. For the first hour or so, you should feel thrilled to “survive” attacks, dismember enemies’ limbs, and land some impressive executions. However, the progression system is wanting, seeing as the new skills you earn don’t do much to elevate the experience. Instead, they feel like necessary power boosts to survive future attacks, or ones you may have very well had from the start.

Once you learn a combo that works for you, chances are you’ll be using that very same one way down the roughly eight hour campaign. Melee attacks don’t evolve either. Pretty much the katana you receive at the start is the same one you’ll use through to the end. As a result, it’s bound to get repetitive, boring, and then tiring to play.

What’s worse? The opponent variety doesn’t evolve much either. You’ll encounter ninjas, grunts, brutes, uhm, mech dudes, which pretty much behave in nearly the same ways such that you can easily replicate the same patterns over and over through to the boss fight. 

Love Letter to the OGs

wanted: dead

If you’re looking to challenge yourself, Wanted: Dead’s publisher, 110 Industries, describes the game as a “love letter to the 6th generation of video game consoles,” which were the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and the original Xbox. And if you remember, these games follow a somewhat exact combat recipe. 

A kind of rhythm that consists of endless levels, so many enemies, repetitive combat, fewer save points, and a pocketful of health packs. So, basically, here’s a game that wants you to study it. To learn its patterns. To keep moving no matter what. And, if by any chance you respawn, you’re likely to start it all over again. 

In that regard of renditioning to the OG’s, Wanted: Dead nails it to the core. Even the environments feel old and new at the same time. See, the visuals generally look bland with lots of empty spaces and slogging through hordes of enemies. Sure, there’s some evident modern hardware touches you can easily see at first sight. But once you start playing the actual game, it turns into a series of long corridors and roomy offices that feel more dead than alive.

The Best Part

It’s sad that the endless levels of crime scene after crime scene and Stone’s swordplay/gunplay that violently turns enemies into mush, don’t do much to the gameplay experience. Rather, it’s the charming, little minigames ranging from arcade cabinet romps to rhythm-matching karaoke that spice things up a bit. 

But we shouldn’t have to rely on minigames to finally feel the blood pumping through your veins. Honestly, the best part of Wanted: Dead are the minigames, the anime story interludes and live cooking shows, however meaningless they are to the actual plot, character stories, or gameplay. It feels like the “love letter to the 6th generation consoles” is more of an excuse to thwart the game. Regardless of the goal, cramming too many ideas into one in the most chaotic ways possible is a bad idea. But then again, art is subjective. So, who knows? You might have a different opinion to ours? 


Wanted: Dead - Official Release Date Trailer

At no point should a game’s story ever be confusing, ever. Unless it’s meant to be a puzzle or a twist we later piece together, no. Wanted: Dead is a confusing game plot-wise, that fights you at every turn. I doubt anyone can coherently tell you what exactly is going on in the game because it just doesn’t seem to tell a story. 

It’s not that the characters fall short of words or character. They’re, in fact, more cutscenes than we could have asked for, mostly eat outs in diners, and where we’re forced to listen to what’s an awkward sort of banter between individuals who clearly don’t tolerate one another.

It feels like Wanted: Dead was going for a blend of action and comedy. And I guess we’d have given it a pass if the action ended, which is what we’re here for, holding up its end of the deal. But, no. Combat is a repetitive sequence of a few varieties of enemies with the same moves. At first, it’s pretty thrilling to execute a perfect combo, but afterward, it starts to get boring, and then feels “like a chore” trying to at least finish the roughly eight hour campaign. 

Perhaps Wanted: Dead’s only moment of greatness is the charmining little silly minigames you experience that sort of give you breathing space from the mostly scrappy experience. Otherwise, Wanted: Dead is a clunky combat, average voice acting, dull story game that, sadly, never really lives up to its full potential. 



Wanted: Dead Review (PS4, PS 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S & PC)

An Ambitious Return to Old-School Gaming

Wanted: Dead is a new single player, third-person slasher/shooter action game that attempts to revive the 6th generation of video game consoles’ gameplay. I won’t sugarcoat it to say Wanted: Dead does all it sets out to do, because the end-result is a crime scene after crime scene grueling experiencing across waves of samey enemies. There’s barely a story to unravel, the fights hardly evolve in a way that challenges you to keep grinding, and the visuals don’t do much either to draw you into the gameplay. Perhaps the one thing to give props to is the charming, little minigames and anime story interludes, which says a lot about whether it’s a worthwhile game to play. This one is a “try, if you must” kind of deal.




Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.