A popular saying tells us imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but if that is to be believed, where would one place parody? This is how WASTED chooses to introduce itself, by making it clear to anyone with a cursory gaming knowledge that we’re playing a title strongly influenced by modern Fallout releases. Now granted, Fallout this is not, theme, visuals and bits of the plot may have originated from Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic adventure, but in gameplay terms, WASTED is more akin to a Rogue-lite dungeon crawler.
In it, we learn that the cold war set-off during ’80s, engulfing the world in flames and ending civilization as know it. In order to preserve mankind, several vaults were built with the intent of preserving food supplies, but these failed in their original goal and its contents became irradiated. Just as interesting, is the fact toxic alcoholic beverages now spark powerful mutations to anyone who drinks them, making them faster, stronger, deadlier and occasionally producing the opposite effect. This is what motivates your soon to be permanently killed main character as you explore vault after vault of randomly generated corridor.
While not particularly deep, what little plot there is does not take itself seriously, however, the humor is rather hit-or-miss. In the end, as Played through a First Person perspective, your goal is to traverse these locations, dispatching other looters and mutated dangers along the way while gathering better equipment and upgrades. Indeed, WASTED is the sort of title whose main strengths lie gameplay and in that regard, it’s a competent title. Initially, gameplay styles are limited due to a lack of a proper arsenal or permanent upgrades, however, that soon changes with level progression. Most foes drop weapons when eliminated, be they firearms or melee, though you’ll most likely find yourself scrambling for ammo, especially when you’re initially allowed to only carry 10 items, which include armor, ammo, weapons and healing items.
For those who are not too keen on shooting frantically, you could become an explosives expert and set ambushes for your enemies. Other useful skills include sneaking for bonus damage, disarming traps and lock picking doors with can openers. These are all stat-based, the bulk of which come from the equipment you gather. WASTED offers a fairly open array of play styles, but I soon found the low inventory cap forced me to specialize in one strategy and stay with it. For example, I often found myself filled with nothing but different types of ammo, eventually, I had to settle on or two weapon types and abandon all other combat strategies. Even when I discovered pouches which increase my inventory limit, I still found myself thinking carefully of what I was willing to take with me.
The combat itself is fast and chaotic and as a result, when something goes wrong, it all goes by in a flash of explosions, knockbacks and bullets. It’s all rather fun and engaging though when things get out of control chances are you’ll be dead before you even know what happened. Upon death, the game immediately sends you a new character with all stats reset. The only notion of progression comes in the form of its story line, unlocked dungeons and gear you managed to bring back with you to a safe house.
However, even the act of leaving a dungeon isn’t something you come across fairly often. Every few levels you’ll find the much lauded radioactive booze. Drinking it can add either a permanent bonus or curse but it will also bring you back home with any items you picked up along the way. In fact, the game even goes out of its way to tempt you to leave a dungeon with a permanent downgrade just so you’ll have the opportunity to store any gear you may have found.
WASTED is a difficult game, and much of its hardships could have been easily overcome if players were allowed to take their time when exploring a vault. However, this isn’t the case, anyone who lingers too long will soon find bounty hunters searching that particular level. To say they are overpowered is an understatement. Their weapons can easily dispatch most players in a few seconds and their defense will take the harshest of beatings. This essentially forces players to always be on the run, especially when considering all dungeons are randomly generated and finding the door to a lower level can take quite a while.
Unfortunately, its greatest issue isn’t difficulty, but rather the repetition. It doesn’t take long to notice how all corridors and rooms look the same. Most floors tend to be little more than a series of variations on previously seen locations and it all becomes rather monotonous. Though WASTED’s first impression wasn’t positive, it eventually grew on me. The fast and chaotic action excuses much of the frustrations that come with losing all your progress in easy unforeseen strikes. Sadly, once you reach that point, you’re only a stone’s throw away from growing bored of all the repetition.
WASTED was played on the PC with review code provided by the publisher.
Developer: Mr. Podunkian
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Release date: June 7th, 2016
Price: $12.99 via Steam, $9.97 until June 14th