Wanted Raccoon begins in the woods, where I play as a happy raccoon who just wants to help out other woodland creatures. But soon enough the humans show up and and start locking up my woodland friends, so it’s up to me to sneak around, place traps, tie up humans, and rescue my buddies.
“Cute animals being jerks” is almost its own genre now, from the anarchy of Goat Simulator to the weaponized nastiness of the “protagonist” of Untitled Goose Game, and a stealth game from the point of view of raccoons fits nicely into that world. People love a cute trash panda, and I have to admit I was taken by the sight of my round, furry butt flying into the air with each jump.
The selection of a raccoon as the title character does a lot of heavy lifting for the game, in fact. Do I believe that other animals would be able to plant a trip wire, or throw a rock to knock out an animal control employee? Probably not, but I’ve had raccoons who have lived in my attic before, and I’ve seen their clever little hands and diabolical personalities in action. They are smart, mean, and only somewhat afraid of humans when cornered.
The development team also took heavy inspiration from the Metal Gear series, down to playing that specific exclamation point sound effect when you’re detected and displaying posters for Metal Gear games on the sides of bus stops. It didn’t take long before I was hiding inside a cardboard box, just like Solid Snake, trying to avoid detection while crossing the street, leaving cut raccoon-shaped footprints in my wake.
The problem is that for all the fun little details and animations that make me want to hug my little raccoon buddies even though I know they would probably scratch my face off and maybe give me rabies, the game is way too buggy in its current state to play for long.
The humans are goofy looking, which is a fun inversion of games with complex human characters but simple flora and fauna. Sadly, they also tend to glitch through walls when knocked over as well. In one case I tripped a human, tied him up, and then watched as the body disappeared and then reappeared as he walked through the door, didn’t trip over my trap, and walked through the other closed door.
I was not sure what to do next at that point, honestly. The skateboard also seems to be an important part of locomotion based on the first few hours, but it doesn’t work unless you start on ground that is almost perfectly flat. Everything else tends to end in a glitch.
The humans also don’t react to much in general, which adds a surreal and dream-like feeling to the game. What are they thinking after I knock them over with a rock and tie them up and we just kinda ... look at each other. Is their whole world turned upside down after being bested by a raccoon?
Glitched quests, missing sound effects, and twitchy controls fight back against any charm delivered by the story or the crafting and trap systems. It’s a shame, because they all seem like promising starts to a more story-based, challenging game than we’re used to from these “animals go wild” releases.
There’s a lot to like here, and I’m looking forward to checking back in to see how development is going in a few months, but for now? Give this early access game a little more time in the oven.