Virtual reality is continuously evolving, but I still haven’t found myself entirely adjusted to the experience. Well, here to make that a little easier for me is Skydance Interactive with their newest release set in The Walking Dead universe. Recently, we had the chance to get a hands-on demo of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and while it needs some polishing in the controls department, it’s clear that it’ll be a VR game with some enjoyable survival-action and open-world features.
At the start, I got the lowdown on the compelling narrative in The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. Set three years since the outbreak in the Birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans, the once-great city is flooded by a massive horde of deadly walkers. With basically no way to escape, the city has been divided into districts and controlled by ‘The Tower”. However, the state of affairs in town has taken a drastic turn when a group, the “Reclaimed,” begins rebelling against The Tower. Not only that, but there’s the word of a bunker that has just about everything both factions could dream of, like years’ worth of food, and as a result, a dog-eat-dog race and bloody battle for survival has begun. It’s here that I stepped right into Saints & Sinners, having to worry about walkers and fellow humans, quite a friendly, warm welcome — wouldn’t you agree?
While the scenario in the game follows what any fan of The Walking Dead series would imagine finding in a game set in the series’ universe, the narrative has several twists and turns to it that made it stand out to me. The reason being is how the player is going to be the one responsible for shaping the narrative — every challenge you face and choice you make will affect how things play out. For instance, there was a moment when a survivor asked me if I wanted to join his crew and take over another crew’s territory. Via a choice-based dialogue system, I replied “yes” and then, I, along with other bonafide killers, went on our merry way to take down a whole crew of survivors that weren’t expecting an ambush at all.
Having the freedom to choose what I wanted to do in the unforgiving wasteland had me thinking of multiple playthroughs — going the extra mile to a ‘good playthrough’ and an ‘evil playthrough’ of Saints & Sinners solely to experience them. During the demo, I suppose I went for a more ‘friendly playthrough’, but who knows what I’ll do in the full game, which is both scary yet exciting. According to the developer, the single-player campaign is going to be over 15 hours long, so that’ll give me plenty of time to decide what kind of survivor I want to be.
Player-choice wasn’t only found in the Saints & Sinners‘ narrative, but also with its gameplay. With the game’s vast, free-roaming world I was able to explore, I had the power to choose how to survive against all the terror that was around me, whether it was walkers that wanted to chow down on me or hostile survivors who demanded anything I had on me. Exploration had a parkour element to it, which allowed me to grab or climb anything I saw. Objects like a bookcase could be used as a ladder to help me get to the second floor of a building and stealthily ambush a gang.
Dealing with foes was all a matter of mastering visceral and brutal combat. I’m not going to lie; it took me a good while to get adjusted to it as it wasn’t a matter of being able to use weapons with ease. Surprisingly, I had to understand how each weapon worked, such as knowing how to reload every single bullet in a revolver cartridge, so going guns blazing or bats swinging was most definitely not an option. But that’s what made combat such a thrill, being able to choose from an arsenal of weapons — ranging from bows and knives to massive machine games and nail bats — and figuring out which ones were the best fit for my play style.
For me, nothing was more thrilling than grabbing a walker’s head and viciously stabbing it with a knife. However, I noticed the controls for combat were hit and miss at times, as sometimes I’d have to keep pressing the trigger button to do a specific action. It could be due to me being out of the VR space range or something along those lines, but I think it’s just some kinks that need to be worked out.
Based on what I played, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is shaping up to be a compelling, unforgiving, and choice-driven adventure that you might want to keep your eye on — especially if you’re a VR fan or a fan of The Walking Dead. I can’t wait to go back into Saints & Sinners and do whatever it takes to survive or die trying.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is slated to launch on multiple VR devices on January 23, 2020.
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