We liked Wet at E3. We liked it a lot. We recognized it as a gutsy project back then, and that’s just what it was. The unfortunate thing about gutsy projects is that they sometimes don’t turn out as you like. The Wet we played at E3 — and the demo, released last month — felt like an arcade game. The action started immediately. You shot and stabbed people, and then you shot and stabbed more people. A little story was mixed in, but the emphasis was the shooting and the slicing. By and large, this is how Wet does start out. However, when you’re actually playing through a poorly designed level with non-intuitive navigation, it’s harder to appreciate that action.
Developer: Artificial Mind and Movement
Sep. 15, 2009
Beyond the navigational issues, the first “level,” of Wet is fun, and it really brings you into the game, leaving you wanting more–then it all stops. Instead of continuing the action, getting bloodied up, and listening to Eliza Dushku, the voice of Rubi‚ tell some Asian cowboy to suck his own [this is a coarse and vulgar game, mom] we’re thrust head first into … an hour-long tutorial, in Rubi’s “boneyard hideaway,” made up of “challenges” like an obstacle course. There are some serious ADHD issues going on here. The game spends the first 10 minutes teaching you how to perform Rubi Malone’s acrobatic moves. Then you get 15-20 solid minutes of action. Then an hour of boredom. Then the game starts up again, and it really seems to get good again when Rubi makes a cargo plane blow up midair and is falling to the ground. But you’ll spend another hour, or about 50 of your unlimited “lives” trying to navigate through a maze of plane parts, boxes, and miscellany, because if anything hits you, you die. Considering this is kind of a short game with a sliver of story as is, that seems like time wasted.
The game is about a gun-for-hire who agrees to find a wealthy man’s son, but when he finds the son and brings him back, he kills the son and sends a sword-swinging goon to kill you.
The game has diversity. The acrobatic moves are edgy, and there’s a good mix of swordplay and shooting. There’s a great mix of gameplay styles — walking/fighting, jumping, acrobatics, vehicles and even the aforementioned free fall from the sky. The pace picks up with “rage mode” where everything goes red and Rubi starts killing everything in sight. The problem with “rage mode,” however, is that it’s much harder to navigate through the already puzzling levels with the screen all red. And you don’t get any additional health. You die just the same as you would normally. The “rage mode” we played at E3 put Rubi in a more enclosed space where she just went nuts and started swinging the sword, killing dozens of baddies like they were nothing. It felt more like a bonus level at E3, but it’s actually a much more difficult gameplay style in the actual game.
The cinematic elements are good. The game’s post-modern feel is matched perfectly with cutscenes featuring 50s drive-in “let’s go to the refreshment stand” montages.
But essence isn’t the problem. Neither are the graphics or the voice acting, also featuring actors Malcolm McDowell and Alan Cumming. It’s straight gameplay that hurts Wet, nothing more.
The game should be more intuitive. The acrobatic moves are fun, and it’s awesome to slide down a ladder shooting baddies in slow motion. It’s even more awesome to jump from moving car to moving car on a freeway while shooting baddies in slow motion. It’s wicked awesome to slide under a pipe and catch a baddie with an uppercut of your sword. But the acrobatic nature of the game means you’re going to fall a lot, but rather than die and wait for the load screen to start the checkpoint over, the developer should shoot you right back to where you fell from and let you keep playing. Nothing kills momentum and fun like bad platforming, and Wet has its share of that.
The game gets lost in bursts of fun, followed by waiting, followed by more bursts.
The Blast Factor: The frustrations don’t always outpace the fun. Wet is a good game that’s fun to play in moderation, but the sum of the its parts just isn’t enough to make you want to keep playing for long.
WET is available on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 for a retail price of $59.99