Slow motion, dual-wielding gunplay is such a staple in gaming these days that John Woo has had to relinquish ownership. However, there are the games that do it right and there are the games that get it woefully wrong, Wet lands face first in the middle.
Wet is the new IP from developers Artificial Mind and Movement, which follows Rubi’s tale of betrayal and murder through a world imagined in the style of Quentin Tarantino. Rubi is a no holds barred femme fatale with the language of a sailor and acrobatics that put ninja’s to shame. These acrobatic moves are the name of the game. Whether you’re wall running, sliding or just diving through the air, Rubi will enter slow mo the second you pull the trigger. The more kills you rack up, the greater your multiplier becomes, which in turn allows you to upgrade yourself with new moves and slow motion circumstances.
Wet’s gameplay is a simple premise, which is supported by the games unique stylisation. Wet does its best to emulate that Kill Bill Crazy 88 scene and expand it over an entire game. To their credit, the developers have done a great job. The cut scenes set the tone of the story perfectly and are matched by the game play and even loading screens. The characters are exaggerated freaks and madmen; you will never find yourself forgetting who is who while you’re playing. The voice acting for the most part is of high quality, and helps bring the world to life. Some have complained about the bombardment of curses Rubi utters at every moment -it’s in your face much like the story and it’s meant to be. The music on the other hand is in stark contrast to the action, with a series of Ska 70’s style tracks. These feel out of place, but once again that seems to be the point. Artificial Mind and Movement should be commended for making such an eclectic mix of styles all come together in one package.
With all these basics flowing together so perfectly, it’s a shame the gameplay doesn’t. Wet relies on acrobatic stylised kills as the basis of everything you do; no style, no points. Unfortunately these acrobatic moves don’t come together as well as they might. Coming down from a dive should slip neatly into a slide, but the animation just doesn’t happen every time and your awesome looking combo is now neither awesome nor a combo. Very little encouragement is given towards mixing up your moves, which is strange in a points based game. Unlike games like DMC, you are not penalised for using the same move over and over to rack up kills. In fact, the jump button will at some points become all you use to unleash death upon your foes.
The game is very linear and has you repeating the same tasks throughout. The arena style fights where you have to close the entrances for enemy reinforcements using your sword attacks are littered around the levels. Not a lot changes in these fights apart from the arena and therefore the acrobatic moves you ‘can’ use. However slowly, as you progress through the game, your moves do seem to come together a little better and if you want to venture into some different styles of combat, you will be rewarded with some personal satisfaction should you pull it off.
Wet also features moments where Rubi gets blood on her face, and goes into a rampage mode. Your score multiplier changes to a kill streak bar, and the graphics take a turn for the Killer7. The sections are great fun, as speed is a high priority and the graphics actually add a whole new style to the game that I will admit I really liked. One of these scenes takes place in an arena section about halfway through the game, and comes down to brutal slaughter that is very reminiscent of the Crazy 88’s massacre “black and white” moments that I mentioned earlier. If you actually saw the death you were dealing it would be too much, but in this colour palette it becomes detached.
Small amounts of the game include exploration between fights; this unfortunately is Wet’s weakest point. The game controls are all based around combat and do not travel well into the other areas of the game. Many a time you will find yourself falling to your death when your jump isn’t inch perfect or a wall run into a jump that doesn’t obey the direction you are pressing. While something was needed to give a rest from the combat, the exploration sections in Wet could have done with a bit more spice and refinement so that you wouldn’t find yourself stuck constantly jumping from one side of a ledge to another due to a dodge control scheme and camera.
Wet doesn’t suffer for being repetitive, Max Payne is a similar system and is a master piece. Rather, it suffers from poor flowing mechanics. As you play the game nothing quite seems right, be it exploration or simple combat moves; you are constantly reminded of moves you could be chaining together, only for them to fail and end horridly with a hail of bullets in your face. The games difficulty isn’t a problem; however as a high skilled player I like to bump up to hard mode. In Wet, the difficulty stems more from the mechanic rather than your skill level. With so many problems, what should be a smooth experience becomes a stop and start series of frustrations.
Wet – much like Mirrors Edge – is a very well stylised game that suffers from its own unique game play elements, some of which didn’t quite work, and each deserve a sequel to try and iron out these bugs. Everything is in place for a great game, and Wet does a fantastic job of setting the world and characters in a style never before seen in gaming. Unfortunately, while reviewing a game you can’t give it points for trying, but Wet is a nice effort that didn’t quite pay off. I would suggest everyone experiences the game – be it through the demo or renting a copy – and then consider buying the title depending on your impressions. I would have regretted to have not played Wet. It may not have been the best title this fall, but it has its charm.
6 NINJA HEAD OUT OF 10