A protagonist who can perform daring acrobatics with a heart-wrenching serenade of gun combat and sword mastery will make anyone not want to put the controller down. Rubi Malone, the lead character in Bethesda Softworks’ latest title – WET, is a girl that knows how to warp and twist an ideal into an ugly truth that is severely disappointing. Even though WET presents a canvas filled with potential of an action shooter, it is far overshadowed by the realities of a humor bent storyline gone awry, bland gameplay mechanics turned frustrating, and mediocre voice actors that are deafening. As the film reel on this ‘70s style influenced shooter continues to play, the monotonous nature of WET is revealed to be more than just a euphemism for blood on the hands but also disappointing tears of blood on the hands for anyone who finds the unremitting and bland sword with gun acrobatics gameplay and a not so enticing storyline a completely frustrating experience.
Rubi Malone is considered a wetwork specialist, someone who is hired to finish a dirty job which mostly consists of killing an onslaught of bad guys and usually one of the main characters of the charade. The storyline design focuses on a ‘70s style aesthetic while keeping to a tinge of sarcasm and the occasional humor. The way that Artificial Mind & Movement creates these elements in a blend to the characters themselves presents a folly. Their goal to interpret the ‘70s style largely falls short with a faltering perception. Characters are purposely made both unbelievable and extremely substandard compared to the gameplay which lacks a large portion of these storyline elements and make up a weak identity. WET presents an identity that is unrealized and further mismatched by not remaining consistent in these elements across the gameplay, which both come off as nonsensical even in the ‘70s aesthetic.
WET takes a new spin to the gameplay in an attempt to be unique and gives Rubi the ability to wield guns, make unrealistic but exciting acrobatic moves, all the while using a big sword to dismember foes. Rubi’s acrobatics with gun combat and sword-wielding influence platform progression fails to deliver largely due to problems of shooting layout and the inherent flaw of mission design. Bethesda Softworks took an approach to sacrifice gameplay for elements rather than carefully choosing elements that do not sacrifice the combat tactics. Rubi Malone can magnificently and quite magically kill dozens of foes while blending combat. Suddenly and mysteriously, when it comes to real-time action minus the faux-pas Max Payne slow-time, Rubi Malone can barely shoot for nickels alone including a slower shooting rate that forces players into a catastrophically depressing jumping spree to kill the onslaught of enemies that come in the repetitive nature of the mission structure. The actual transition between gameplay styles is very well blended and manages to make it easy to shift between guns or a sword and allows players to feel a level of ferociousness that comes with such skill. The lack of any real cynosure and attention leaves anyone that plays WET in an uncomfortable position between the acrobatics and gun gameplay style along with the repetitive nature of WET’s levels.
The sword gameplay itself finds very little use between all the foes with guns or metal bats. Even though the idea of splicing up bad guys sounds fun, there is a very disappointing way in which the sword is used. Instead of allowing players to take the sword and use a system that enables damage midair or slicing enemies in midair, Bethesda Softworks takes the characterless approach to the game as a whole and makes it a single hack-and-slash action. The sword further does not fare well when compared to other combat styles. Most of the jump-and-gun instead of the run-and-gun tactics that make a game bland overshadow any use for the sword, as most enemies can easily be killed with a couple of shots to their torso, or directly to their skulls for a “Skull Crusher” phantasm. While Rubi’s adept mastery of guns, acrobatics, and swords sound interesting, they are nothing short of boredom in sensibility and disappointment in reality.
WET’s voice acting is subpar thanks to Eliza Dushku that plays the foul mouthed sailor Rubi Malone, who is in a lot of the cut-scenes for obvious reasons. Eliza Dushku does not have an incredible grasp in terms of her movie repertoire which further leads us to wonder how much she was paid to voice act unrealistically to Rubi, where every curse word sounds as if it is intentionally being poked at in a childish manner and dramatized more than usual in dialogue for young teenage boys as its audience.
The soundtrack in WET fares a little better off, but starts to hurt the ears after the musical score constantly keeps repeating in the background. At one point, we actually decided to turn the music completely off as it adds nothing dynamic to the gameplay element or anything that would help the gameplay at a point in time.
WET does conveniently address some decent gameplay features through the various styles. Rubi’s signature move is the split-targeting, allowing a massive entourage to be taken out. Anytime Rubi is in slow-motion, she will automatically aim one of her weapons at the nearest enemy while pointing to another person. The auto-aim latches onto the closest enemy the player is not aiming at due to the helpful auto-aim feature. Eventually, a “Rage Mode” gets triggered and allows Rubi to have faster health regeneration, and more damage with the ability to move faster which all seems standard. The colors of this Rage Mode also change to an interesting silhouette of red and the enemies as faint outlines as if from a comic book. The Rage Mode is decent but it comes out quite randomly out of nowhere at certain points, which leads into a real confusion for players. The slow-motion can be combined with the split targeting for some incredible moments and the Rage Mode gives a slightly different take to the visuals despite the other misgivings.
Players can find a lot of solace for whatever experience-like points they earn by doing the various combos available in the game such as “Low Rider,” and “Double Dealer.” The upgrade shop at the end of each level comes as a nice add-on reward system. The game rewards Rubi’s combo moves and kills with points which are used to purchase either new moves or upgrades for her various weapons which include pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, crossbows, and also explosives. The amount of upgrades is well included and provides a decent addition to the gameplay itself.
WET undeniably is a game that relies too much on Bethesda Softworks’ name in the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion prime and ends up delivering a forgettable experience in the melodramatic ‘70s interpretation that dominates Rubi Malone’s world. While in the process of attempting to create something unique, Bethesda Softworks and Artificial Mind & Movement make a display of what happens when a game never realizes an identity it sets out for itself and relies too much on past cultural norms to create something both humoristic and gratifying: it ends up being forgotten, predated and moreover ridiculed.