WASTELAND! is a first-person shooter for iOS devices that's played entirely in portrait orientation. There are plenty of great shooters on mobile, but sometimes it's not to sit on a bus or train without having to hold your phone landscape for the whole journey. But, is it any good? We handed the game over to the App Army to see what they made of it.

Here's what they said:

Brian Wigington

Do you know when a well known, seasoned comedian can do edgy, odd comedy and actually pull it off with almost every crowd? I feel a bit like Wasteland is trying to be edgy and odd....but the crowd is not sure what to make of it. The basic setup is a post-apocalyptic future where big bugs have taken over. The gameplay consists of pretty basic tasks like finding a battery, repairing something, find the key, find the way to the next area, etc. The gameplay is fine overall and the simple controls work well for a touch screen FPS. Unless you want to go backwards.

Yep, as others have mentioned, you cannot move backwards. This makes the game feel a bit too incomplete to me and makes some situations more of a pain than they should be. The shooting aspect feels fine although the guns don't feel all that special to use. More variety and maybe a rare weapon or 2 would be nice to find. The graphics are an attention-grabbing palate of bright, sun seared tones of orange, purple, green, and yellow. I will definitely give the dev props for doing something different. The animations and framerate were very smooth on my device.

The music is a mix of surf rock and maybe rockabilly (?). It actually blends well with the overall unusual theme. The sound effects are decent but not anything special. I felt just "Ok" with my time playing Wasteland. If there were more interesting quests or plot points, the game would be more memorable. After a while, the quests and areas to explore seemed a bit too alike. I don't feel like the game is bad for its rather small asking price, just temper your expectations.

Paul Manchester

I have to say when I first loaded up this game I wasn't expecting much having not enjoyed any fps experience on mobile previously. However, I was instantly seduced by the graphical style and music so delved deeper into the game. I quite liked the portrait view and the simple controls at first were a bonus. It made controlling the character simple and I did not have the same frustrations having to navigate complicated virtual buttons which usually end up with thumbs imprecisely smudging around the screen.

But, the game badly needs the ability to walk backwards, without this navigating the world and trying to use any sort of strategy against the alien enemies is pretty pointless. Add to this the useless map and lack of any kind of mission pointers I ended up struggling to understand where I was or where I was supposed to be going. There is definitely promise with this title but unfortunately, the lack of a back button and terrible navigation makes this a frustrating disappointment for me. (Anyone trying to find how to power on the PC on day 03 has my sympathies...)

Robert Maines

Wasteland is an FPS, with a retro look that is fun to play but let down by the controls. The premise is that mutated bugs have brought down civilisation. You play one of the few survivors who must venture out from a bunker to complete missions and kill the giant bugs. The graphics are garish and retro-looking with a low polygon count. The music was surprisingly good and my foot was tapping as I played. Sounds for the various weapons lack oomph.

What lets the game down is the inability to reverse, which can make navigating the levels a grind at times. It also means that if a giant bug gets close you can’t escape and you will lose energy or die as you frantically tap the fire button. The missions add variety to a very simple FPS and the portrait display is perfect for mobile phones. Despite the controls, Wasteland is a game I’ll be keeping on my phone.

Matt ARen

During an already apocalyptic war, someone unleashed the mutents (yes, that spelling appears to be on purpose) on the world. You are a lone survivor eking out an existence on a ruined world. The sound effects for each gun are decent, with nothing distracting from the game. The music is a very interesting choice, Surf Rock, brought to you by a quirky robot DJ. I liked it, it gave the game some much-needed character. The aesthetic is reminiscent of Minecraft, lots of blocky objects contrast with the bulbous mutants, I mean mutents. It’s okay, but nothing that’s going to captivate you.

Two things doom WL for me. Portrait mode and the control scheme. I’m sure there’s a way to pull off a good portrait mode FPS, this just isn’t it. Holding my iPhone XR for play quickly went from awkward to uncomfortable. Also, the lack of strafe makes movement a chore. Seriously, strafe has been available since 1992 in commercial games. Oh, and no backwards movement, so a fighting retreat is not a combat option. While much of the game is decent, the gameplay is shackled to an unmanageable control scheme, probably due to the orientation of your phone. Sorry, this one’s a no-buy from me.

Mark Abukoff

I pretty much agree with what everyone has said. The soundtrack is killer. A+. And I usually turn the music off during games. And this music could have actually matched well with the low poly look of the backgrounds and structures and killer bugs. But the portrait mode, while adding to the sort of claustrophobic feel means that a lot of the screen is going to be covered up by your fingers. And the controls are simply substandard for what is trying to be done here. You need to be able to move backwards. The fire button is way too close to the movement button which resulted in some inadvertent firing and waste of ammunition.

The side-to-side control is a very narrow and invisible horizontal stripe along the right-centre of the screen. Make that control a transparent circle or pad that can aim up as well as side to side and it would be greatly improved. Same with the movement button. Make it transparent and allow for backwards movement and the experience would be much better. In addition, I had trouble finding my destination on the map and spent a bit of time wandering around that shouldn’t have been necessary.

Highlighting your mission destination on the map is a common thing for a reason. This is a game that could be a great deal of fun if it had these simple control issues sorted out, as well as a bit more variety to the missions. So I’d love to recommend it for its potential but honestly, at this stage, I simply can’t. Disappointed.

Oksana Ryan

This should have been an enjoyable game. It had everything going for it - colourful graphics, giant arachnids, insects and plants ready to attack, missions to accomplish, guns to collect and a really novel soundtrack. However, the game falls short in several ways. Trying to manoeuvre away from objects and enemies was a real pain. There was no moving backwards, so when a giant spider or wasp attacked, if it got too close I was dead because it’s virtually impossible to escape it.

There is a lot of repetition, starting each mission by going down the same path, and blowing up walls to reveal a new section of road. It would be great if there were any variety but each section of the road looked almost identical to the next. Finally, if I was overpowered by an enemy and died {which was a monotonously frequent event) I had to start the mission all over again. This was particularly annoying if I had trekked my way to my destination and was on my way back.
There’s a lot to put right in this game to make it a pleasant experience but at the moment it just isn’t there.

Jojó Reis

Excellent first-person game, I liked the fact that the game is vertical which makes it more comfortable to hold the phone and play at the same time, the controls are extremely simple and fluid, music and graphics are very good too, congratulations to the developers for the big game.

Bruno Ramalho

Wasteland is a fun game, but it gets a bit boring after a few playthroughs. At first sight, it looks like a First Person Shooter played in portrait mode, with some nice graphics, and has a cool soundtrack that reminds us of movies by Tarantino like Pulp Fiction. The world has turned into a wasteland, and there are huge bugs and radiation everywhere. You have a lot of tasks to do every day, mainly going out of your bunker, search for something, destroy a wall, kill some bugs, and come back (not always like this, but pretty much the first few runs).

Things I hated right away about the game, I can't move back with my character (or I'm missing something), so if I'm being attacked by a giant bug, I can't really run back while shooting. The same for moving to the sides while looking and shooting at our target, as you can do in FPS games. The portrait mode is not ideal, I know I'm on an iPhone 12 Mini, but I would really love a horizontal mode. It's very crammed having two fingers on the screen to control our movement (put the left finger down and our character accelerates), and we have to lift our finger from moving to fire our weapon.

The right finger can be used to look, but only left to right and vice versa, no up and down, which is weird. Driving a vehicle is also very weird. But then the pacing of the game puts me off. Go someplace where you have been before the first, second, third, fourth day, travel there by foot, killing the same bugs all over again, rinse and repeat. Not entirely true, there are new bugs, and there are new weapons, but nothing really there to keep me interested. The scenery is pretty empty most of the time, and if it wasn't for the giant spiders walking around and the soundtrack, I wouldn't really play it anymore.

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