When it comes to The Walking Dead my excitement goes into overdrive, whether it is a new season, another graphic novel or recently another game. The whole zombie apocalypse element is fantastic and I find myself drawn to these types of games, where you have to survive in a harsh world that is crawling with zombies. That being said this time round the thrill has been intensified with the added element of VR. The Walking Dead Saints & Sinners offers a fully immersive world were your thrown into the city of New Orleans three years after the outbreak and have to try everything in your power to survive. The one thing I have to say is that all The Walking Dead games that I have played in the past have been breathtaking and ticked all the right boxes for me as a fan, so can this instalment do the same?
So like mentioned above, the game takes place three years after the outbreak and is set in the city of New Orleans which is now flooded and surrounded by a herd of walkers. The city is split up into districts that can be accessible by your skiff and are controlled by a community called The Tower. Another group called the Reclaimed suddenly appear and start to rise up against The Tower which makes exploration that bit tougher as survivors that aren’t in a faction must try and fend for themselves. The main objective is to try and find the rumoured Cold War-era bunker that is meant to be loaded with supplies that will aid in your survival. Along the way, you will meet allies and other survivors and it’s down to you how their story plays out and whether you will help them out or put them out of their misery.
Using VR in a zombie game is so much fun and what makes it even more enjoyable is when the mechanics are clean, simple and easy to use. Everything is clearly thought out and makes for a free-flowing gaming experience. You can simply reach over your shoulders to access weapons and inventory, reach to either side of your body to access knives or firearms and then touch your chest for your journal and flashlight. While wielding melee weapons simply swing or stab to kill zombies and when using firearms try and have a steady hand so that you don’t waste bullets and get a clean shoot off. I loved how natural at first this game felt to play, it was so easy to get lost in the game and not want to put it down, however, after twenty minutes of playing my body reached a point of motion sickness and it became a bit harder for me to play without feeling nauseous.
While exploring the world you will come across different objects that can be used back at the bus to get resources from, which will let you craft different medicines, weapons and food. I enjoy going out into the world and just stocking up on supplies and finding new things that I might have missed when I was last in the area. You will also be able to climb up guttering and navigate the sides of houses which helps when trying to get away from zombies or finding your way into buildings, though it does have a big drain on stamina so make sure you have enough before attempting the climb as you don’t want to fall halfway through it and hurt yourself. As days go on, the amount of zombies increases and the number of supplies decreases so having effective time management is key. You will notice a watch on your character’s arm that signals when The Tower rings its bell, it doesn’t sound that bad until you realise that it attracts a massive amount of walkers to your area and your odds of survival get thinner. As scary as this is, its tons of fun to be put into a what-if scenario, I think if playing this game is anything to go by I might not survive a real zombie outbreak.
Your health and stamina is something to keep a close eye on as you don’t want to be caught out by zombies when you have no stamina or low health, these can be managed by eating food and finding medicines in the districts or even back at the bus where you can craft them. The arsenal of weapons available in the game is fantastic and has a good array of melee, ranged and improvised weapons, there is definitely enough for the player to use however I found myself staying away from ranged weapons due to how difficult they are to aim and reload. Not only this but when using them they attracted too much attention so I would just stick to my melee weapons. The main location you find yourself going back to is the bus, this is your base of action where you can rest, restock and make new weapons and skills. It is also like a safe zone where there aren’t any zombies and allows you to practise shooting and sorting out your backpack.
If you pre-ordered the game you got a few bonus items that any lover of The Walking Dead wouldn’t want to miss out on, you get The Judge which is none other than Negan’s trusty bat Lucille, The Sheriff which is Rick’s revolver and The National Guard which is an awesome looking combat knife. There are a few other things but these mainly stood out for me, I had so much fun crafting Lucille and putting her to good use!
Graphically the game looks amazing; the level of detail that has gone into it really adds to the VR feel and makes you feel as though you are part of the games post-apocalyptic world which is ace. There are some buggy areas like clipping and zombies glitching out but not enough of an issue to affect the experience. However I did find it hard to read small text when playing, I would make sure my Oculus was set up perfectly before playing each time but when I was using the journal it was really hard to make out the small text, it was blurred. In the end, I would have to ask my partner to read what was on the computer screen to me when it was really bad, though this might just be an issue I was faced with but I thought it was worth mentioning. The audio was spot on, really had you on edge all the time. When you’re exploring the world and can hear zombies but not see them and when you’re getting chased by a horde and hear them closing in on you it is a truly terrifying feeling. The other thing that is oddly satisfying is the level of detail they go into when you are bashing zombie’s heads in, the noise and blood effects are brilliant and adds to the whole VR feel. The VR element is what makes this The Walking Dead game stand out above the rest, you are put in a position of fear, empowerment and enjoyment because you’re the one doing the movements, you’re the one that feels like their life is on the line and above all, you’re the one that is in the apocalypse.
Saints & Sinners will keep you playing due to its addictive gameplay and its pure enjoyment of being thrown into a zombie apocalypse, there is 15+ hours of story but on top of that, there is the exploration element as well as trying to get resources so that you can craft everything back at the bus. The main problem I had with this game was that I couldn’t go for long periods of time playing it; I would get very bad motion sickness and have to take long breaks away. This upset me because it meant that I couldn’t fully enjoy the game at times because I was forced to take time out when my body couldn’t handle the VR. I have played VR games in the past but this was my first VR experience where I was fully moving with my arms and everything. I hope in time this feeling would disappear and I would be able to enjoy VR more but it properly messed with my body at times and made me have to come away from the game, which I honestly didn’t want to do. Don’t get me wrong, Skydance Interactive has put a variety of movements and camera settings in the game to help try and reduce this feeling but sadly I just couldn’t handle it.
Don’t get me wrong I loved the VR part to the game, it really helps with the immersion but I feel as though it did get in the way with how much I personally could enjoy the game. If your playing area wasn’t big enough you would find yourself constantly having to re-adjust yourself to make sure you were getting picked up. I, also personally, believed I had a big enough space but when the set up for the Oculus asked for a bigger area I found myself rearranging my whole room to play the game. The Oculus headset would steam up sometimes and make it hard to play as you would have to keep pausing the game and having to wipe the lenses and as mentioned before reading small text in the VR world was really hard. I messed with the setting and even readjusted the headset a number of times and it was still an issue. Though, it’s not all negatives as I feel that with the VR this game has excelled and has been put into a league for its own. The combat, travelling and the way you interact with the world is fantastic and does allow for some memorable moments. I think what I’m trying to say is that VR is a love/ hate relationship with me and as much as I want to play it and love the idea of it there is still problems with it that make me feel as though it needs more work.
The Walking Dead is something that I honestly love and have followed ever since my friend lent me the first volume of the graphic novels. It has come a long way and I love the fact that we are getting video games based on it. I adored the Telltale Games series and when I saw this game advertised and was hoping it was able to live up to their standard and it did just that. The game was brilliant and had me hooked from the start and just wanting to get lost in the world was an incredible feeling. The VR element was its only downfall for me as my body just couldn’t get used to it, so it meant that I was playing for short blocks and had to take breaks. There were times when aiming, climbing and using the weapons didn’t work but I think this was down to my set up and maybe not having a big enough area in my room to play the game. Though saying this I would recommend this to any Walking Dead fan and it definitely doesn’t stop me from continuing to play the game. It would have been a nice option to have a non-VR mode alongside it so you can have the option to play without it but then it would be defeating the purpose that Skydance Interactive was going for which was a fully immersive Walking Dead game, where it put you to the test in a full VR experience set in The Walking Dead universe and for these reasons I’m going to give it a score of 8/10.
For more information can be found at www.vrwalkingdead.com
Launched officially on Thursday 23rd January, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is available digitally for the Oculus Rift, Rift S, Quest (via Link cable only), HTC Vive, Cosmos, Valve Index and various WindowsMR headsets on Oculus Store, Steam or the game’s official website.
This review is based on the PC version of the game
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The Walking Dead Saints & Sinners
Saints & Sinners is a game unlike any other in The Walking Dead universe. Every challenge you face and decision you make is driven by YOU. Fight the undead, scavenge through the flooded ruins of New Orleans, and face gut-wrenching choices for you and the other survivors. Live The Walking Dead's dark drama in your own skin.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 30.99