For those unaware, Adult Swim is the late night persona of the Cartoon Network. Full of shows that aren’t really meant for kids, Adult Swim has been home to some truly unusual (but usually very funny) things. In recent years, Adult Swim has branched out into the game market, publishing mobile and console games that fit with their approach to humor and entertainment. The newest of these games, releasing today on PC, is Wasted: A Post Apocalyptic Pub Crawler, developed by Mr. Podunkian and published by Adult Swim Games. In this review I’ll talk about what you can expect from this cell-shaded shooter.
Our story starts as many post-apocalyptic stories do, with the apocalypse. The opening cinematic takes you through the events that lead to the downfall of civilization in the 1980’s, and tell us that it was the dumbest humans that somehow survived. Many of the scientists and generally the intelligent members of society retreated to underground bunkers to ride out the apocalypse in their cryogenic lairs and emerge once the dust had settled. Great plan, except those bunkers failed, leaving a series of what are affectionately referred to as “Coolers” scattered about. It is the job of your character, a Waster, to try to uncover the potential riches that lie within, or at least try to find some radiated booze — because in this game, you either get wasted, or you get wasted trying.
The story does enough to get you into the game, but the gameplay, writing, and humor keep you coming back for more. For example, there’s the currency in the game. Post apocalyptic games do currency differently. The Fallout series uses bottle caps, for example. In Wasted, your currency is toilet paper, because radiation totally gave everyone the runs.
Gameplay in Wasted is pretty standard FPS fare. You start by creating a character, though you honestly probably won’t see very much of that character for reasons I’ll get into shortly. You can name your character and adjust the hair, eyes, skin color, facial features, etc. of your character before hopping into the game. There are a decent number of options available (and lots of horrible 80’s hairstyles), though again, you probably won’t need to spend a whole lot of time on the character creation.
While Wasted is definitely a FPS, it also has quite a few roguelike elements. When your character dies, they’re gone forever, though you’ll still be able to play on. When you die, you lose any gear you are carrying. At that point, another random Waster comes across your home base, taking it over for themselves and becoming your new character. They’ll then be thrown into a newly randomized version of whichever Cooler you are exploring. The good news is that if you survive long enough and make it back to your home base, you can drop off weapons, armor, healing items, etc. that you may have been carrying, and any new character can use those items once your current character ultimately bites the big one… and they will.
Exploring the Coolers is straightforward in many ways. You’re dropped just outside of the underground bunker, and left to fend for yourself. Along the way you’ll run into members of the various gangs that have popped up, and other assortments of enemies to test your mettle. There are also traps to watch out for. You have no idea how annoying those traps can be until you lose a pretty strong Waster carrying a decent amount of gear to a freaking bear trap… always remember to look where you’re walking.
You work your way down through the Cooler, and every few levels you’ll be given an option to “save and exit” in the form of a bottle of radioactive booze. You’ll have the choice of one of four bottles, most of which carry some form of permanent detrimental effect for your current character. Don’t worry though, the bad hangover from that booze gets you out of the current Cooler and you’ll wake up back at your home base, where you can drop off any gear, or toilet paper, and start over. There are various un-marked flasks that you can find throughout the levels that will imbue random status effects on your character — some positive, some negative. It’s probably best to just drink any of the un-marked flasks that you find.
Oh, and don’t think you’ll be able to just lollygag around throughout each level… at a certain point you’ll be notified that someone is coming after you. Wait too long and you’ll learn that you’re being hunted. Wait even longer and eventually a well armored soldier with a minigun will show up and ruin your day. Moving to the next level resets this clock, so you’ll want to work quickly. I’m assuming that it is possible to beat these Purifiers, though I’ve never been able to do so. Their 600 hit points and again, a freaking minigun, have ended up getting the best of me on multiple occasions.
Eventually you’ll gain access to other areas to explore and safe zones to check out. There are also daily Courier Run mini games that put you in the shoes of a random Waster outside of your current game. You’re then thrown into a relatively difficult situation and try to get the highest score that you can. If you make it far enough you’ll be able to store one of the items that you find in a Courier box, and that item will often make its way into your current game’s safe house storage. All other players are able to play the same level each day, so after you finish your run you’ll be able to see where you land on the leaderboard.
Wasted is full of lush cell-shaded graphics and over-the-top caricatures for the characters, enemies, NPCs, etc. You’ll soon see that everybody you run into has a giant bulbous head and exaggerated features. The levels have a more cartoon-ish feel to them as well. The graphical style works really well in this situation. There are a few definite similarities to the graphical style of Borderlands, which is definitely not a bad game to emulate.
Since the nuclear annihilation of Wasted takes place in the 1980’s, you’re going to hear a lot of 80’s sounding tunes coming from all over the place. The general background music is an 80’s inspired synth soundtrack which changes depending on where you are in the game. You’ll occasionally run into boomboxes found strewn throughout the coolers and other zones that you’ll explore. The music coming from the boomboxes is more straightforward sounding 80’s tunes. As a bonus, if you don’t like the song (or just want to damage any nearby enemies) you can shoot the boomboxes to arc electricity to anything nearby.
Sound effects are very well done. Punches, baseball bat swings, gunshots, and any other weapon/combat noise sounds like it should. All of the enemies and NPC’s are voiced. The few named NPC’s I’ve run into each have their own distinct personalities. The general enemies tend to repeat a lot of the same taunts and insults, but they are varied enough that you usually won’t hear the same thing too many times in a row.
Wasted: A Post Apocalyptic Pub Crawler isn’t for everyone. Even if you’re into first person shooters, if you don’t like roguelikes you’re going to have a pretty miserable time dying frequently. That said, if you’re comfortable with occasionally losing progress because of a well-placed enemy, or can deal with the frustrations of dying because of something stupid that you’ve done (and losing progress), or generally are a fan of roguelike games, you should really give Wasted a try. It’s kept me coming back for more even when I end up dying in various infuriating ways. That’s got to say something about the game (or me, but let’s just say it says something about the game). You can pick up Wasted: A Post Apocalyptic Pub Crawler today on Steam. Suggested retail price is $12.99, but you can currently grab the game at a launch discount for under $10. What are you waiting for? Go get it!