Indie Quickie: Wasted

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What is it and who made it? A Fallout-flavored, 80s-infused “pub crawl” FPS roguelike from Mr. Podunkian and Adult Swim Games.

What platforms is it on and how much does it cost? Pay a visit to your local Steam pub and order a round for $12.99.

How much did we play? Attempted five Cooler runs in three hours of total playtime. So far the farthest I’ve been able to survive has been to the fourth floor. I also did one of the Courier Runs, which are one-off daily challenges with leaderboards that track progression distance and overall high score while also providing the opportunity to stash a rare loot item.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements, or other details you should know about? I’ve experienced a few instances of jittery framerate and noticed some minor spelling errors in the NPC dialogue, but nothing too serious to be alarmed by.

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Why should you play it?

    • Fallout Flattery: They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if that saying holds true then the creator behind Wasted must really love Fallout. Everything in Wasted draws from Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic universe, but does so in a way that is more parody than a lazy attempt to copycat. The dungeons, known as Coolers, are the same thing as Vaults in Fallout. Instead of bottlecaps, scarcity has led to toilet paper (TP) becoming the new form of currency. The menus have an old DOS-like computer aesthetic, an apparent nod to the Pip-Boy. Your Waster’s stats are represented by the acronym S.H.O.T.S (for Shoot, Hit, Oblit, Tinker, and Sneak) rather than S.P.E.C.I.A.L. While time can’t be paused like the V.A.T.S. mechanic, enemy body parts can be targeted and crippled for varying effects (headshots, groin shots, damage legs to reduce movement speed, etc). Computer terminals can be logged into to uncover back story and odd correspondence between former Cooler survivors, like a dude attempting to email a woman named Eva to profess his desire to have sex with her to repopulate the world, only the email was accidentally addressed to a guy named Evan. Awkward. I could go on with even more examples of direct influence, but I think you get the point here. A silly, comedic take on Fallout is all good in my book.

    • Booze & Loot: While thematically inspired by Fallout, Wasted‘s gameplay takes its cues from the roguelike dungeon crawl genre. Played as a first-person shooter, each entry into the Cooler generates a procedural map layout and random enemies, traps, and loot drops, the goal being to steadily build up your arsenal and skill level so that you’re better equipped to make it deeper into the Cooler with each successive run. In a nod to Rogue Legacy, death results in the loss of the current character and the spawn of a new randomly generated Waster to control for the next run. Death also means losing all loot and TP carried at the time and restarting from the beginning of the vault; however, a level of persistency comes from the ability to find courier mailboxes that allow a small number of items to be delivered back to your home to stock up for future Waster reincarnates to inherit (or left in the mailbox to potentially pick up from another mailbox later in the same run).

    Certain floors within the cooler allow for swigging a radioactive booze to return home with all looted items intact–to store or use for crafting items from the workbench or kitchen stove, as well as a toaster piggy bank for safely saving up valuable sheets of TP. Booze also plays an integral part in how your character’s abilities develop during a Cooler run, as the bottles of alcoholic radiation, if guzzled down, provide perks known has Hangovers. The return-home Boozes provide quasi-permanent Hangovers that stack on a single Waster for the life of the character, so even though it can be tedious, it pays off in the long run to purposefully enter the Cooler from the beginning multiple times over just to pick up helpful Hangovers before mounting a full attempt to clear the dungeon. Certain mystery Boozes also appear throughout the Cooler floors, which add immediate attributes to the current run without taking you back home. Caution is required, though, because whether or not a mystery Hangover turns out to provide a positive or negative attribute is a roll of the dice. Get lit, but do so responsibly, kiddos.

    • Wasteland of Weirdos: The NPCs you’ll encounter in the Western Wastes are quirky verging on nutbar factor 6, complemented by adorable, pseudo-chibi character design and the type of off-color dialogue you would expect from an Adult Swim production. Expect to be name called things like fartwhiff, radbuffoon, and buttmunch a whole lot, because this game’s inhabitants are immature like that. When you’re not down in the Cooler, you’ll be chatting up NPCs for quests, trades, item deliveries, and booze. For example a hasbeen courier who speaks in Shakespearean vernacular, or the stereotypical Valley girl blonde who just so happens to be a junk trader and the leader of a wasteland gang. Of course, neither of those oddballs have anything on Dick and his nether region companion named Kissinjerk. Yes, Kissinjerk is a mutant talking penis born from Dick masturbating too much while highly irradiated. So I guess that makes them a perverted version of George and Kuato from Total Recall, only here your task is to collect scalps from dead Wasters and return them to Kissinjerk so he has a totally rad pube wig to rock. If that type of humor tickles your tummy, Wasted will be right in your wheelhouse.

Parting Thoughts: Wasted is absurdist gaming at its prime, but it’s also pretty damn challenging and, mechanically, a tiny bit clunky in terms of aiming and movement control (the knockback power some weapons inflict can be especially cheap and frustrating). The RNG behind the randomized maps, loot drops, hangover effects, and enemy spawns can swing wildly from very helpful to almost unfair, which can be kind of annoying yet at the same time is the very essence of what drives a roguelike experience. Based on the Steam community discussions, the player base seems to be split on a mechanic that involves a powerful enemy known as the Purifier, who enters the Cooler and begins to hunt you down after an unspecified length of time has passed on a particular floor, effectively building in a form of time limit. A few hours in, I’ve only directly encountered the S.O.B. once and was able to escape to the next floor unscathed, so he hasn’t bothered me yet. Perhaps later on, as the maps become larger and more labyrinthine, this becomes a greater nuisance, but in general the flow of the game prods you to move with urgency. I think the problem some players might have is that, due to the Fallout inspirations, there is this initial compulsion to want to fully explore the dungeon maps, kill everything, and scavenge every last receptacle instead of moving along and finding the exit to the next floor as quickly as possible. If you can break that habit, you’re in for a fun time of boozin’ and lootin’ through the post-apocalypse. Just remember to bring your big hair, fanny pack, acid washed jeans, and mixtape of 80s jams along for the ride. Oh yeah, and a stiff drink.

What is Indie Quickie? It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

Disclosure: A Steam code for Wasted was provided to VGBlogger.com by the game’s publisher.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!