I have played The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners on PCVR and META Quest, but I was still interested in seeing what the team at Skydance had done with the PlayStation VR 2 upgrade. I have explored New Orleans with Sony’s latest hardware, but was Mardi Gras or Mardi Blah?
In the game you are placed into the position of a character known only as ‘The Tourist’, who has befriended an old-timer named Henri. As you make your way through a flooded New Orleans, searching for a hidden military stash of food, meds and military grade weapons – so you can take your half. However, in your way are not only hordes of walkers, but two warring factions in the city, who are very wary of you and can be found in shoot-outs in the streets. The question is can you complete your mission of finding this stash, taking your half and getting out of New Orleans?
With how the game plays out and inline with the TV Show, the main element of the gameplay is going to be about survival. With this in the mind the team at Skydance Interactive have brought in the Crafting system that is now ever-present in survival games, meaning you are going to be collecting materials as you go about your daily tasks while searching New Orleans. These materials need to placed into the bin within the bus you are using as your home, and then you can use the crafting tables outside to make food, meds, weapons and ammo. You also have to keep in mind your crafting tables also need upgrading to unlock what you can craft, and also provides you with some upgrades on the way.
Then the second most important element in the need to survive is, combat to defend yourself and stay alive. This is by-far our favourite part about The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, the team really have managed to get this perfect and feeling so visceral – as you would expect in The Walking Dead universe. From sticking the first handmade shiv into a walkers head and having the struggle to pull it out, to shooting the guns in the game it all feels so weighty and well done- and does not start to feel old through-out the whole game. As you start to find or craft more weighty weapons these will require two hands to use, and they have also done a great job of simulating the difference in weight in the game, with the struggle you will have holding them in one hand really adding to the immersion.
The final elements that pulls the gameplay together is your inventory, health and stamina management, and quests – three other much needed staples from survival games. For inventory management you have a backpack with so many slots, meaning in some cases you might find yourself needing to sort items if something more important is located on your way around New Orleans. The majority of the quests you will receive throughout the game come from The Resistance, but you will get the chance and become involved with quests with the factions, which can lead to killing members of the opposing faction, so your choice does become final in this matter.
The game will start with a minimal amount of walkers in the streets during the day, however, as it gets later you will find more. But, one important thing is you must listen out of the bell-toll as it gets later, as this will attract the horde and you will be over-run and struggle to survive. To get past that elements you need to get back to your bus and sleep, however, doing this will increase the amount of the undead found during the day and supplies will also dwindle – adding a little more to the survival elements. But, this is where our main issue came in with the game, you can only save by travelling or sleeping. Travelling passes time and brings you closer to night time and sleeping has the aforementioned effects – I just feel they should have used a more manual saving system.
With the PSVR2 upgrade the team at Skydance Interactive had shown off the improved visuals leading up to it’s release, and they did look great in these previews. So, I was shocked when going into the HMD and they looked even better than it did in these previews. Graphically it has brought inline with the PCVR version for the environments and animations, but this version really excels in is the lighting, I have never seen the lighting look so good in any of the other versions.
The presentation of the visuals really gives me the feeling of the Telltale games design aesthetic, while also making them feel like their own. The walkers and NPC’s look great as do the main textures of the environments, and mixing this with aforementioned fantastic lighting and it really does bring it all to life.
In the sound department you are going to get what you would expect in The Walking Dead universe, environmental sounds mixed with the groans of the undead and the noise of the arguing factions as they fight it out over the area. This is rounded off with very strong voice acting for the characters you will be interacting with through-out the game. All really rounding off the immersion and experience provided by the visuals.
You can play the game seated or standing, as pressing the right-analogue stick in will set your height in the game, and the team have included comfort options like snap turning and blinders to try negate the motion-sickness that people can suffer from. Meaning the game can be played by many users – however, if you can play standing, I found this is the best way to play it.
When it comes to the controls the main buttons you will be using are your grips and triggers, with the only other buttons being used are the ‘triangle’ button to engage in conversations with NPC’s and ‘circle’ to crouch, making sure its all kept simple and works well with what the game offers.
One thing the PSVR2 version holds over all the other versions is the Sense Controllers intrigration, the haptics from the controllers and the adaptive triggers really do add a new level of immersion. Mixing this with the headset haptics on taking damage just finishes off the feeling of being in the world.
Overall Saints & Sinners has a huge playtime of around ten-hours for the campaign mode, but even more if you are a completionist – which could increase it to around fourteen-hours. With the game also having The Aftershock update, it adds an additional eight story-driven missions that take place separately from the main story, adding around four to five hours of additional playtime to the already impressive campaign. When a game brings this much content and playtime, it is worth the £39.99 they are charging.
REVIEWED USING PLAYSTATION VR 2
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a sample provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a press sample does not affect my judgement of the product.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners on PSVR2 offers some updates that brings New Orleans to life like never before, with the introduction of best controller haptics so far, adaptive triggers and improved lighting, making it look better than it ever has. With all the staples of of the survival game genre coming together perfectly in game and certainly fitting with The Walking Dead universe. Being finished off with what is still some of the most visceral combat on offer in VR. If you have played it before and have the spare money to upgrade (if you didn’t buy the Tourist Edition originally), I would say it’s worth paying for it and experiencing the game again. If you haven’t played it before there is no better version available.
Release Date: March 21st 2023 (PS5 Update)
Developer: Skydance Interactive
Publisher: Skydance Interactive
Price: US $39.99/ CA $66.99 / €49.99 / £39.99