Hannah Stone in Wanted: Dead.

Wanted: Death Review

Wanted: Death Review

Wanted: Dead would have a complete breakdown in the late 2000s. It’s a serious hack, with some disgustingly wicked dismemberment, B-grade voice acting, and tons of stutter. That’s exactly what developer Soleil is aiming for, and has the support of several former Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive staffers. But in our Juggernaut 2023, its unassailable vision won’t be shared by all.

what is it? A hack and slash game inspired by the humble action games of the 2000s.

Expect to pay: £49.99 / $59.99

Developer: sun co., ltd.

Publisher: 110 Industries

commented on: Nvidia GeForce RTX3070, AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, 16GB RAM

multiplayer game? No

Association: (opens in a new tab)

Unfortunately, I am one of them. I’m a big Team Ninja fan and a regular on Dead or Alive, so I’m excited to join the Hong Kong Police Force’s Zombie Squad. A group of ex-convicts serving life sentences, and you take on the role of Hannah Stone. Along with comrades Herzog, Doc, and Cortez, Wanted: Dead’s fragile narrative plays out across multiple missions.

They’re linear, but in a way I really like them. Waves of enemies are scattered between checkpoints, most of them fairly identical and repetitive. There are gun-toting enemies that are easy to dash through, a host of melee enemies that offer varying levels of challenge, and mini-boss-type monsters that deal massive damage and require precise timing. Their paths can be a bit erratic at times, not sure if they’re heading straight for me or one of my teammates. They all follow simple patterns that are mostly easy to pick up in isolation, barring a particularly tough enemy or two in the final mission.


Wanted: Dead mixes melee and gunplay, with Stone capable of slashing and parrying with her katana, staggering enemies with her pistol or engaging in classic third-person shooter gameplay from behind cover. She can also parry certain moves with her pistol and dodge gunfire with her dodge ability. Combat feels great when it flows. Slashing an arm or parrying at the right moment is very satisfying, and Wanted: Death is filled with gloriously bloody finishing moves that never got old in my 12 hours with the game.

Compared to katana slashing, the gunplay feels noticeably weaker, and the cover system is pretty rough, too. There were times when Stone couldn’t come out of cover normally, because she was too busy shooting any enemies with her cheek against the wall. You do have the ability to jump over low objects, but I found it too unstable to use reliably.

(Image source: Soleil Ltd.)

With the exception of Stone’s own rifle and shotgun, most of the guns also feel terrible to use, and these seem to be two of the only guns that can actually hit enemies. The grenade launcher and stone-supplied grenades did almost no damage, and I eventually gave up on using them because they were so useless.

On the plus side, you can fine-tune Stone’s main gun and pistol through weapon customization, and Stone can upgrade her abilities through a skill tree. The skill tree is nice and simple, divided into offensive, defensive, and utility skills. There’s little hassle in choosing which skills you want to invest in, and the process of gaining new abilities is simple, earning you enough points to earn your final upgrades and enough time to enjoy them in the final mission.

Enemies generally waited patiently for Stone to finish off any one in front of her, which meant I was rarely fighting more than one or two at a time. I did have some frustratingly unfair situations where I would be stuck between the two of them, unable to escape or parry, while being beaten from every direction.

I’m not the most action-loving gamer out there, and found the bosses at the end of missions particularly frustrating. The final mission gave me a lot of grief without some very sporadic checkpoint placement, which turned the game into a challenge with a lot of healthy resource management. One particular checkpoint in the final mission killed me over 10 times, leaving me frustrated with my lack of skill that didn’t match my desire to keep going and finish the damn game.

If you’re a fan of games like Devil’s Third, Sekiro or the classic Ninja Gaidens, you’ll feel right at home. But as someone who doesn’t dabble in these games much, the spike in difficulty did cut down on the amount of time I spent playing Wanted: Dead.

On the plus side, there aren’t any performance issues holding back or making combat more difficult. Occasional frame drops and texture loading issues when new enemies appear, but for the most part my game is pretty smooth. I have no problem running most graphics settings on the highest options. For those who might struggle with rigging, there are plenty of graphics options to adjust texture quality, draw distance, and ambient occlusion, among other things. No ray tracing or DLSS – I can’t imagine a 2007-style game benefiting much from the former, and fairly low system requirements mean DLSS shouldn’t be a necessity.

(Image source: Soleil Ltd.)

However, I did run into some nasty bugs that added to the roughness of the game. The music stops during the encounter, the menu doesn’t disappear, and the game continues in the background. I also experienced several random crashes. I’m not sure if it’s a bug or a poor sound mix, but one level has bizarre enemy voices screaming over the music and other sound effects, and it’s incredibly distracting.

die of confusion

The game loop is a well-paced one that sent me back to police headquarters every time a mission ended. It’s the most open-ended game ever, with four floors to explore some collectibles, and some very anachronistic mini-games that turn Wanted: Dead into a weird Yakuza class. At one point, I watched a cutscene and immediately fell into Stone and Gunsmith (voiced by Metal Gear Solid 5’s Quiet) singing 99 Luftballons while I frantically tapped the keyboard to match the beat.

Weird moments like this where I sit down and realize I’m not even entirely sure what I’m playing. The narrative is all over the place, often throwing cutscenes at me that are completely unnecessary. An early cutscene takes 35 seconds to follow Herzog to a jukebox in a restaurant, watch him choose a song, and walk all the way back to his table. The zombie squad went on to place a shocking order, and it took Stone a full 24 seconds to ask for her breakfast “and a pack of cigarettes”. Later, a roughly 90-second cutscene involves Stone walking into the police mess hall. She sits down and casually examines each plate of food while seemingly struggling to grasp the concept of using a fork. For some reason, she looked up to see the rest of her team sitting at another table. That’s it, that’s the cutscene.

(Image source: Soleil Ltd.)

Even when the cutscenes try to tell a story, it’s delivered so woodenly that I’m still not sure what’s going on. I didn’t particularly pay attention to its empty narrative, but a few times, I had to sit back and say “what the fuck?” as the cutscenes faded to black. At times, Wanted: Dead uses anime cutscenes to tell the story, a choice that left me severely whipped the first time it happened. It feels unnatural juxtaposed with its normal aesthetic, though in isolation they’re crisp and well animated.

Wanted: Bleach is too bad to happily appear in mainstream gaming in 2023. But it’s sure to resonate with a niche audience – sadly, I’m not one of them. Soleil had a vision and it can proudly realize it.It won’t be for everyone, but for those who like it yes Because, they’re going to have a lot of fun.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.