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Fight, Drink, Die, Repeat: Wasted

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me

Wasted [official site] is "a roguelike post-apocalyptic pub crawler", which instantly places it high on the list of things I'd like to play. And play it I did, right before heading out to E3 last week. I haven't spent enough time to deliver a full judgement but it's a game worth placing a spotlight on, with some smart progression mechanics and a Fallout meets Adult Swim sense of humour. It was indeed published by Adult Swim's gaming arm and has been receiving regular rounds of boozy updates since release.

Here's how Wasted works. Booze is the most precious resource in this particular flavour of post-apocalypse and it's stored in big vaults, the corridors and rooms of which are procedurally generated and filled with bandits and beasties. You make your way through, shooting, smashing and dodging traps from a first-person perspective, and when you find a cache of liquor you can either drink, which returns you to the surface with a hangover, or dig deeper in search of a better vintage.

In this world, hangovers are often a good thing. As well as improving your character by finding loot, which offers great visual customisation as well as changes to stats, every drink you down applies a permanent change to your character. The risk-reward ties in to the fact that the deeper you travel, the greater your chances are of finding booze that provides a really good hangover bonus. But you can't escape from a vault unless you drink, so if you're low on health and ammo, you might need to take a terrible tipple just to blackout and return to your haven.

When a character dies, you take control of a new wasteland wanderer, randomised visually, who stumbles upon the now-empty home and takes it as their own. All hangover bonuses are lost but loot can be stashed in the house, meaning there's both progression across a single character's life and in the base itself, which is persistent across lives.

It's a fantastic system, backed up by some gags and NPCs that manage to shimmy along the line between puerility and wit (you'll meet Nixon, with a mutated crotch that resembles Kissinger's face and speaks in a glum monotone). I'm not entirely convinced by the combat, which tends to collapse into chaos as melee enemies rush toward me as I enter a new area, but it's mostly about stats colliding - with some basic aiming and attempts to knock enemies into traps - rather than an actual FPS.

There's plenty more to the game than described here. I plan to return to it when I've finished writing about all of the games I saw at E3. Judging by the attention the developer is paying to player feedback, Wasted is likely to be even more enjoyable when I do get round to spending a weekend with it. Hurrah!

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