WASTED

wasted logo

WASTED
PC
Developed by Mr. Podunkian
Released in 2016

Yeah… I don’t really have much of an interesting story for this one. Partly because I have no clue how this game ended up in my inventory, partly because it ended up being another one of those games I really don’t feel anything for. If there’s one thing this whole indie month has taught me, it’s that most of these games were left unplayed for a reason.

Fallout is calling

In an alternate timeline where the Cold War turned hot, the earth is now a wasteland where surface dwellers cling to their means of survival. Projects to create underground vaults to protect people from the nuclear war have failed, leaving many of the inhabitants dead, but its storages filled to the brim with useful goods. One such good is “booze”, a drink that has been irradiated and tastes terrible, but has left the surface dwellers raiding the vaults absolutely addicted to the stuff. You are one such waster, and your goal is to delve into the labyrinthine vaults to unearth the tastiest of boozes.

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It’s really not much and I actually wasn’t expecting such a lengthy, overdone introduction cutscene when I first fired up the game. Unlike many competing roguelite shooters, WASTED is actually quite fond of dialogue, having you meet characters as you explore the vaults and select dialogue options. It’s rare and I don’t feel it adds much, it’s not like story is a main appeal for the game, and I wouldn’t even have mentioned it were it not for the game shoving it in your face like this.

Story score: 3/10

Unsatisfying

WASTED is a roguelite FPS dungeon-crawler in which you explore randomly generated areas in search of elevators to increasingly difficult floors. Your ultimate goal is to find a stash of booze and pick which to drink, after which you’ll pass out and leave the level. Boozes grant you special upgrades, both beneficial and troublesome; choosing to delve further instead of taking the first drink you find will eventually lead you to more useful boozes, or you’ll get killed and have nothing.

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As you explore you’ll face monsters and other wastelanders, which you get to take out with a combination of guns, melee weapons, and your own two fists. This is where the game kind of falls apart for me, as fighting enemies has very poor game feel. Melee weapons feel more like short-ranged guns, as they only hit what you are targeting and have very little impact. In my experience. It feels like you need to bury your face into the enemy to get hits in and trying to keep up as you get shot at, bounced around by explosions, and enemies run all over the place is just annoying.

Gunplay, meanwhile, is not much better. Your stats are dependent on what clothes you wear and upgrades you gain, with your starting accuracy being akin to just spraying bullets around. You’ll also have to loot containers and enemy corpses for your items and ammunition, which usually left me needing more bullets than I was getting back for the effort. Even at maximum ammo capacity, a single fight could have me run out due to how many bullets everything takes to kill and how frantic it all feels to play. I may be getting on in age and first person shooters aren’t exactly my go-to genre, but I have certainly had better FPS experiences in indie games like Rogue Shooter and the Sanctum games.

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Looting is perhaps the most fun activity, owing to how efficiently its designed. The game will automatically loot items that take up no inventory space or if they stack and you already had some in your inventory. You can also eat food or apply medicine straight from a container without first having to loot them. This makes it easy to just skim through rooms, take what you can use, and leg it again. This is helpful because your time on each floor is limited; exceed the maximum allotted time and the game will deploy a powerful foe to hunt you down relentlessly. It’s a common design strategy, though in this case it does make the inclusion of stealth baffling. Even when moving at a good pace and skipping a lot of optional rooms, I found that time was usually short and I’d have to make a running escape towards the end.

All in all, Wasted just didn’t take long to start grating on me. Pretty much the moment I got out of the tutorial and into the game proper I felt it was more of a hassle to play than anything else, and with competition in the roguelike FPS market like Eldritch, Tower of Guns, and post-revamp Paranautical Activity, the looting and light RPG mechanics don’t add enough to make the gameplay of WASTED worth bothering with.

Gameplay score: 4/10

Borderlands on the line too

The art-style really is reminiscent to Gearbox’ mad FPS series, utilizing a similarly rough, animated style, though obviously at a cheaper end of the spectrum. What it lacks, however, is Borderlands’ sense of humor and how this integrates in its world design. Aside from some graffiti in places, the level-design is rather boring and kind of drab, making poor use of its lively art-style. I will say the wacky character art is a plus and the randomized design of enemies is definitely a feature I hope to see in the future.

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Another cool touch is the voice-acting, which is definitely above par for an indie game, even those published under the Adult Swim label. Hearing different enemies taunt you or snicker to themselves before engaging in a mad charge is fun, and the sounds for various monsters are well done too.

Presentation score: 5/10

Verdict

I’ll be entirely upfront in saying I didn’t play too much of WASTED. Boredom set in on my first run through the game and a few runs (and dead characters) later I didn’t get the sense the game was becoming any less tedious. In that way, this may be seen as a first impressions rather than a formal review, but playing WASTED just reminded me of a lot of other first person shooters and how much more I’d rather be playing those.

40/100

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