Fast-paced spectacle fighters (To steal a name from Ben (Yahtzee) Croshaw) have never been my forte. I've played a good number of them and been adequate-at-best with them. From your Devil Cry and Ninja Gaiden, or maybe even Metally Gear: Revengalot, I've played quite a few of them and generally had a good time. While at Gamescom (yes, still putting these up), I got hands-on with Wanted: Dead from Developers Soleil and publishers 110 Industries, finding a game that reminded me of some of the titles mentioned above.
Granted, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Wanted: Dead made me think of specific other titles; some of the members of Soleil have a history of working on Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden. There's more than enough linking the games, with a few extra things thrown in to liven things up.
Let's talk about setting first. You take on the role of Hannah Stone in a futuristic-cyberpunk Hong Kong, leading the elite "Zombie Squad", a specialist unit taking on the jobs the regular police force can't take. Your current investigation has you tracking through a big corporate conspiracy, facing mercenaries, mobsters, and more. The difficulty is high, keeping with the idea that you're the people taking on what the regular cops won't.
Before I talk about combat, let me cover other aspects. As you progress, you'll have a few options in character development, going up skill trees, unlocking perks, and upgrading statistics. While playing, you'll unlock several customisation options for your weapons, increasing the variations available to you in combat.
I said I wasn't going to talk about combat yet, so let's talk about something unusual but a great perk for Wanted: Dead. This features several mini-games featuring a bit of the quirky Yakuza style. Of course, Soleil kept with the game's general theme; having one of the mini-games was developed and had so much effort into it; it's essentially a complete game. You'll be able to play these after missions, also letting you socialise with your squad, interact with them, build a stronger bond, and allow you to get to know them better.
So, hands-on time. Let's talk mini-games. Wanted: Dead will feature five mini-games to play. From a full-fledged side-scroller shooter to karaoke, or even a ramen-cooking mini-game, each of them adds a bit of character and, dare I say it, quirk. I could get hands-on with three of these, and all of them felt fun in their own right. There is also a chance that Soleil may even release one or more of these before the full release next year.
But how about the core gameplay? During my time with Wanted: Dead, I could play through a reasonable amount of the game, learning the ropes quickly as I went along. What I did learn very quickly is the value of a combo. The weaponry at your disposal? A sword, an assault rifle, and some pistols. Now, the sword and assault rifle are your core means of attack. The pistols, they're the glue between one attack to another.
Your assault rifle will do some damage; that's more than fine, but once you get into the chain of slashing enemies, chaining attacks with the pistol and eventually getting to use even more special attacks. Stun an enemy, or get them into a particular state, and you can turn into Super Saiyan Trunks, slashing enemies at great speed and damage. You can also perform a host of gory finishing moves, adding to the spectacle of this spectacle fighter.
What is the best day to release such an energetic, violent, action-packed game? If you thought "Valentine's Day", then you are both insane and a genius. Wanted: Dead is launching on the 14th of February, 2023, and I'm genuinely looking forward to it. Will I be good at it? I highly doubt it. Will I have fun? Yes. That's certainly my take from my time with Wanted: Dead; it feels like a lot of fun and arguably one of the best games I got to play during my time at Gamescom.