Ever since Resident Evil 4 and Gears of War, the third-person shooter market has completely exploded with a seemingly endless parade of "me too" shooters with the same cover systems, the same look, and the same gameplay; joyless exercises like Wanted: Weapons of Fate, that go through the motions, but just aren't fun. WET is not one of those games. Rather than underestimating the player, Artificial Mind & Movement has built a stylish game that grows with the player.
WET is a grindhouse bloodbath complete with jumpy projection and film that melts away between "reels."
Owing much to the fashionable kitsch of Quentin Tarantino, WET is a grindhouse bloodbath complete with jumpy projection and film that melts away between "reels." Rubi Malone, the title's star, is a katana-wielding gun-slinger drawn from spaghetti westerns and vintage samurai flicks. The whole vibe is maybe a bit too willfully ironic, but it makes a good complement to the bloody, stylish gameplay.
At first glance the controls seem woefully inadequate. Keeping up with the onslaught seems impossible with just manual aim. The hook lies in Rubi's many special moves, including wall runs, slides, and flips. While performing these moves, Rubi can auto-aim on a target, even while manually aiming and hitting another. Chaining these moves together in rapid succession triggers a score multiplier and other in-game perks like health regeneration. Learning to do this is tricky, and my initial attempts were clumsy and wrought with mistakes. As I played more and understood how to use the level design more, the system made more sense. This is a game that rewards skill rather than making clumsiness look smooth. It's a dangerous road to go down, but the hardcore should be glad they did.
Later in the demo we got a taste of Rage Mode, which does away with the subtler gameplay for a bit, as the whole screen switches to a blood-red abstract view with shades of Killer 7. In this mode the lock-on works all the time and Rubi is much more powerful, but these areas seem to be brief. After this we were treated to another over-the-top action sequence on the roof of a car. The QTEs to avoid accidents and leap to new vehicles were a bit trite, but the ridiculous action still works.
It's difficult to judge a game like WET with only a half-hour of experience, but even in that time I could see how the game will get more fun with repeated plays. Throughout the course of the demo, Rubi learned new moves from melee katana slashes to kick-jumping from enemies' faces, and I was assured I had barely scratched the surface. There's tremendous potential here, but I also fear that asking too much from the player will make it the next Mirror's Edge; a misunderstood game where depth was treated like a burden.