The dead will make Ninja Gaiden fans very happy

Wanted: Dead is a game that is deceptively difficult to describe. Its creators call it a “triple-A love letter for sixth-generation consoles,” which isn’t surprising, considering the team is made up of former Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive developers. There’s a lot of Ninja Gaiden’s DNA in Wanted: Dead, but I have a feeling it goes back to an earlier time. While it looks and plays like a hack-n-slasher, structurally, it’s actually closer to traditional 2D slashers of the arcade era. If you like any of these things, you’ll want to catch up on this game when it arrives next February.

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I got a little hands-on with Wanted: Dead at PAX West last month, but my short gaming session left me craving for more. Part cover shooter, part scene fighter, Wanted: Dead is a bloody cyberpunk grit that, like Ninja Gaiden, will push you to master every encounter, largely by smashing you into the pulp over and over until you learn the ropes of combat.

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Wanted: Dead only has five levels, but the developers at Soleil Ltd. (Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time, Naruto To Boruto) They say they still expect players to spend at least 20 hours going through it all. I’m not a slacker when it comes to the genre, but I totally got my ass up throughout the demo, which took place in a high-rise office building filled with gun-wielding thugs flaunting devastating accuracy. I obviously can’t speak much about how difficult it is to play for just a few minutes, but it seems clear that it’s aimed at an old school, if not practically medieval, experience.

There are plenty of games in this genre that combine hack-n-slash and guns, but Wanted: Dead takes this collection to a new level. If you want to play it as a cover shooter, you have an arsenal of fully customizable weapons that you can use to make your way through each level. If you want to play it like a slasher, you have a whole bunch of combos and special attacks that you can unleash on your enemies. Of course, the best strategy is likely to be knowing how to mix and match gameplay strategies depending on the situation. For speed and perfection runners, finding the perfect way to get past each mission will be the big draw here.

The other big draw for casual wear like myself is how elegant they are. There are over 50 unique ultimate moves that you can perform and each one I’ve seen was more brutal than the previous one. I gasped loudly the first time I saw my character cut off the arms of some dude before flipping behind him and putting a revolving gun straight down on the top of his head. The protagonist, Lieutenant Hannah Stone, is a stone cold assassin who cuts people without prejudice. Wanted: Dead has some of the most gruesome fights I’ve ever seen.

It’s a little cyberpunk movie, a little anime, and a bit like a movie from the 80s. It’s a shooter, slasher and, believe it or not, a bit of life too. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the activities you can do in between missions, like getting to know your teammates better by going out after the daily carnage. One place you can visit is the arcade where you can play a fully developed shmup called Space Runaway. Soleil will release that game separately before the launch of Wanted: Dead next year. Wanted: Dead is hard to spot because it does so many things, but don’t be surprised if you see this at the top of Steam charts or quickly topped the following games. Get ready for Ninja Gaiden fans, this is the game you have been waiting for.

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