Wet has a built-in excuse. It’s a tribute to the action films of the late ’60s and ’70s—with unmistakable nods to Quentin Tarantino—so it’s allowed to be ridiculous. The story is a series of predictable twists, the characters are caricatures, and the action defies logic. But it works because Wet uses its B-movie context as more than a crutch for sexed-up, violent decadence. There’s so much enthusiasm for American cinema in this game that every corner is packed with grindhouse style: always entertaining, if not necessarily coherent.
The cookie-cutter plot: After a cash-for-organs briefcase exchange goes bad (such exchanges usually do), bounty hunter Rubi Malone infiltrates an international crime ring to seek revenge. Rubi is the most genuinely seductive game heroine since Beyond Good & Evil’s Jade, partly because Wet doesn’t saddle Rubi with the triple-D upper body that burdens many of her contemporaries. Rubi is voiced by Eliza Dushku, who has fun with clunky one-liners like “Who’s the bitch now?” in a smoky, charming performance that avoids crossing into schlock. Alan Cumming and Malcolm McDowell are the other big names in the cast, and they, too, sound like they’re having a good time.
The top-tier voice talent fits the Wet team’s apparent aspiration to make the most rip-roaring action flick they can, then invite players to step inside. The run-and-gun stages, which comprise most of Wet, are the best at translating film convention to gameplay. When Rubi fires her guns while jumping, sliding, wall-running, etc., the game dips into slow-motion mode. One gun automatically aims at a nearby criminal; you have to target the other manually. This “split aim” system makes you an unnaturally good shot, yet it still feels like you’re performing your own stunts.
Because the game forces you to spend so much time in slo-mo, the novelty does wear off, and there are other missteps. Chase scenes amount to little more than “Press this button… now” puzzles, and obligatory obstacle-course challenges are a weird diversion from the story. Still, the flair of Wet—exhibited in touches like a head-banging original soundtrack, an ultra-stylized “rage mode” that paints the screen red, and loading screens that dredge up vintage theater PSAs—gives the game enough drive to overcome most of its flaws.