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Cult classic action game plans comeback after “challenging release”

Wanted: Dead, a fast-paced action game from 110 Industries, was "overshadowed" by games like Hogwarts Legacy - but it's still alive.

Cult classic action game plans comeback after "challenging release": A woman wearing a blue police shirt with black hair tied back looks over her shoulder at the camera, a neon cityscape behind her as rain falls

If there was one game I was hoping would become a sleeper hit, it was Wanted: Dead. Set in a neon-bathed Hong Kong and channeling the good ol’ PS2 era, 110 Industries’ first outing looked to be full of promise – especially given its combat seamlessly blends hack-and-slash chaos with slick third-person shooting. That said, wedged between major new releases, Wanted: Dead failed to secure its space in the spotlight, falling into relevant obscurity soon after.

But Wanted: Dead‘s publisher wants you to know that the game is still very much alive. Despite divisive reviews, 110 Industries continues to release new additions to its action-adventure game, with patch 12.2 implementing some much-needed fixes for one of the early boss fights.

I ask CEO Ruslan Akhmerov about Wanted: Dead’s journey in an exclusive PCGamesN interview, and he admits that “it’s been a very challenging release.” With the highly-anticipated Hogwarts Legacy launching just before, then more direct competitors like Atomic Heart dropping afterwards, Akhmerov notes that the team “felt like Wanted: Dead got overshadowed by a number of great games [that] released close to us.

“Such a sentiment echoes across the majority of videogame enterprises throughout 2023, save for rare exceptions. Nevertheless, amidst this prevailing narrative, we retain a deep sense of pride in the game we delivered amidst the tumult of that year.”

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Wanted: Dead’s reviews didn’t paint the prettiest picture, however, with the game currently sitting at ‘Mixed’ on Steam across both legacy and recent reviews. I ask if the team was happy with the reception and if, in hindsight, 110 would have changed anything about the launch.

“We have mixed feelings about the reception,” Akhmerov tells me. “It sucked that some sites gave us really low scores, but we take criticism very seriously and are working on improving the game right now.

“The good thing about the reception is that it left no one disinterested. People either love it or hate it, which is kind of good for [a developer’s] first title. Many players call it a cult classic, so we’d like to make the best out of that viewpoint and give players something they’d enjoy five or even ten years from now.

“We do believe Wanted: Dead has yet to reach its full potential, which is why we continue to improve it to bring it closer to our ideal vision of the game,” he continues. “I understand that quick victories are very rare in this industry, so we’re taking a long-term approach to cultivating the world of Wanted: Dead.”

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When I naturally ask what’s next, he responds “Our focus remains resolute on elevating Wanted: Dead to the status of a bona fide cult classic. (Also, I can say that the Wanted: Dead story isn’t done yet). We actually have a number of very important announcements to make in 2024.

“We want to thank every gamer out there who gave us a shot and purchased Wanted: Dead. Whether you loved it or hated it, we do take your feedback to heart. (And yes, we also hate fighting the white ninjas).” Unfortunately, the PCGamesN CMS can’t produce a ninja emoji, but given how sneaky they are, perhaps we just can’t see him.

A group of cyberpunk mercenaries stand in the rain in an industrial area with Chinese characters on the walls

What I am excited to see, however, is the future of Wanted: Dead. I remember the moment I fell in love with it at Gamescom 2022, and I still have the black and neon pink grenade from the press kit on my statue shelf – oddly enough, my mom has a bit of a fascination with it, which is only slightly concerning.

As I wait with bated breath to see what the Zombie Unit gets up to next, you’ll find me checking out our list of all the best FPS games – you can never truly pop enough heads in (virtual) life. Alternatively, if it’s the neon-bathed dystopian future vibe that intrigues you, we also have a rundown of all the best cyberpunk games.

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