The Backlog Returns: Wet

We all have a backlog of games that we mean to play. It's a stack that grows constantly and summer is usually when we try tackle it. Last year we took the slowness of summer to not only play those games in our backlogs but to also write about them. Well, summer is back and so is The Backlog. Each week a different writer will be bring you a new tale about game they're currently playing. These tale will vary widely in form and content, but one thing is for sure, they'll all be entertaining. So let's kick things off with Wet.

There are those games that just nab you. From the first trailer you’re hooked. Then they’re released and you find out the game is not very good. But that doesn’t dissuade you, at least not very much. You know you’re going to get it but you decide to wait until the price drops. Weeks pass. Months. Years. Then you finally see the game in the bargain and you buy it.

From the first level you can’t help but wonder why people said so many bad things about it. It’s awesome: it’s all action and film grain. While obviously inspired heavily by Quentin Tarantino and Max Payne, it looks like it can pull it off. It has a plot that starts simple, just you chasing a McGuffin. Then it hits you: over-the-top action and film grain are all this game has. And then they try to start expounding on the story and it hurts you. It physically hurts you.

What game am I talking about? That would be none other than Wet, the third person shooter from Bethesda released in 2009. Wet gets its title from the word “wetwork”, a euphemism for assassination. That being such, it stars Rubi Malone, who being voiced by Eliza Dushku is a bounty hunter searching for the son of mob boss Mr. Ackers.

Wet starts off notably strong with Rubi chasing after an assailant who has stolen something from her. For the entirely of the first mission you don’t what that “something” is. It gives you a good taste of multiple style of action, from the linear levels to the open arenas and finally to the car-jumping ridiculous quick time events. The dialogue is odd, but it’s just odd enough to be endearing. Best of all the dialogue is sparse. But then, at the end of the level, all of that changes. For the worse.

What starts off as merely odd dialogue, become very odd dialogue. People spout nonsense during cut scenes and everything feels ridiculous in all the wrong ways, including the plot. You discover that the “something” is a heart needed for a transplant surgery for Mr. Ackers. Then years later Mr. Ackers hires Rubi to find his son, but then she find out that it wasn’t Mr. Ackers, it was the evil Rupert Pelham disguised as Mr. Ackers who tricked Rubi into bringing Ackers’ son to him ultimately.

You see, while Wet employs much of the style of a Tarantino flick, it possess none of craft. As mentioned, the plot is a mess and the dialogue is worse. One of my favorite aspects of Tarantino films is way he writes dialogue. He does a great job of building characters and the world around them without saying anything terribly important. In addition to that, his dialogue (at it’s best) is very stream of conscious. But enough talking, I’ll use the opening scene from Pulp Fiction to argue for me:

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Now, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Wet’s gameplay. The gameplay is actually pretty good, if one-noted. For the most part it sticks closely to what the first Max Payne’s did. It does add a melee attack in the form of Rubi’s sword as well as the ability to  wall-run, but little else. What’s odd is that’s totally okay. I actually found myself enjoying Wet’s flavor of gratuitous combat over the most recent Max Payne. I think it’s largely due to the fact that Wet takes itself much less seriously and doesn’t ask the player believe what is happening in the same way Max Payne 3 does. This is a problem I’m having with a number of games these days. I miss when games were silly. I miss when games didn’t have to be dark, gritty and intense. Wet’s story may be terrible, but at least it’s not the depressing story of a pill popping alcoholic.

Probably the worst offense of Wet’s story and its gameplay is the way it ends. That is, it doesn't really end, it just sort of stops. Instead of having a grand boss battle requiring you to use all the skills you’ve learned, there’s a quick time event and then it’s over. No resolution, no climactic battle to release tension, just credits. Which is sad because Wet 2 could have been one hell of game and will never ever happen.

Well, that does it for the first entry in The Backlog. Be sure to check back next week for the next tale of a game. In the mean time, let us know what you thought of Wet in the comments below.

Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.