It’s been a busy holiday season for the games industry. With tons of games, new hardware launches, and the looming pandemic, it’s tough to get to everything. I picked up my Oculus Quest 2 on launch day in October and I was eager to try new experiences in VR. While not a new experience for me, I wanted to see how The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners would be on the Oculus Quest. While I started playing in October, it got incredibly busy and I was unable to publish my final thoughts. Now, after the busy holiday season, I finally have a chance to write this review.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve experienced this game before, so their won’t be a lot of new content in this review. The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is an excellent immersive story that puts you in the game. Playing as “The Tourist,” you’ll explore New Orleans while fending off the undead masses. You’ll also go up against various factions of survivors, including The Reclaimed, The Tower, and The Reserve. With the right choices, you’ll be given the option to be on their good side, or make them your enemy. If you fancy yourself a wordsmith, you can even make some factions fight each other. Survival is the name of the game here, and Saints & Sinners makes it a clear priority.
You’ll travel to different areas like rundown neighborhoods, survivor settlements, graveyards and more. There’s lots to scavenge and plenty of walkers to slay. Gameplay on the Oculus Quest remains unchanged, as there’s only slight changes to the controls. You’ll have various armaments from firearms to melee weapons at your disposal. These weapons have a certain heft to them, and you’ll have to use your momentum to make melee weapons effective. Being a survival game, these weapons also have various durability ratings, meaning they’ll break over time. Even so, you’ll be able to salvage the parts and even have the option to craft new ones. With that in mind, the game will always maintain a presence of danger.
That’s one of the amazing things about The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. Danger lurks around every corner and you’ll have to utilize your inventory to make it out alive. Your bag will provide a lot of options and tools, but going through it doesn’t pause the game. You’ll only have moments to take a knife out of your bag or load your gun before a walker tries to take you out. This is also the case for healing with bandages or food. When a horde of walkers blocks your path, you’ll have to choose wisely on how to deal with them. Going with melee weapons will conserve ammunition but will use up stamina, and will be rather slow. Guns work well as long as your aim isn’t off, as reloading your firearm in the middle of a zombie mob isn’t ideal.
The game also incorporates some stealth mechanics as well, though they’re pretty simple. It’s mostly down to avoiding an enemy’s sights while taking them out quietly. This is necessary when doing certain missions where you’ll have to avoid enemy confrontation. There’s also some great traversal mechanics like hopping over fences, climbing along ledges, and even the way you open doors. The lack of wires really helps to make you feel more immersed in moving around New Orleans, which is probably the best thing about this version. You’re really free to play this wherever you want, having no tether to a device.
After briefly playing the Oculus Rift version and getting my full experience with the PlayStation VR version, the Oculus Quest version looks more like the latter. That isn’t to say it looks bad, especially with a much higher resolution and smooth performance. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected it to look like the PC backed Rift version, but with the Oculus Quest 2, I was expecting it to look a little better. Even so, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners does still look great on the Oculus Quest version. The atmosphere is incredibly moody with great use of lighting and fog, and the visuals don’t overwhelm your senses. It’s also quite a bit brighter than the PC VR version, which makes it much easier to see things.
The music also brings a sense of doom and gloom, feeling somber at many points in the game. When a walker sees you, the music will intensify and fade away the instant the danger dissipates. Then there’s the quiet moments. Moments when the game has no music and relies solely on the minimalist sounds of the environment. It’s all of this that helps you really feel part of this world. Even the voice acting is pretty solid, even though there aren’t too many characters to really love. The one you’ll bond the most with is Casey, who you’ll interact with over the radio at your “bus of operations” during the game. It’s not that there aren’t any other good characters, but it’s mostly not a good idea to get attached.
Having the chance to run through the game again, I was able to use my time better. There is a time system in place where your character will try to avoid nightfall. Not only is it more dangerous at night, but there’s also tons of loot to uncover. Choosing to rest up for the night will make more walkers and less supplies the next day. Having some better time management, I was able to do a bit more each day than my last playthrough. Like the other versions of the game, you’ll also have The Trial for survival challenges against waves of walkers. It still makes for great practice with different weapons, and it’s a lot of fun.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners for the Oculus Quest is a pretty solid version of the game. It might not be the definitive PC experience, but for some, it might be worth it to simply play on a wireless headset. The visuals are a slight step up from the PlayStation VR version, and it’s an overall comfortable experience. While it’s not without accessibility issues, this is still one of the most immersive VR experiences you can play. With deep gameplay, different story options, and plenty of zombies to take out, this is still one fantastic game.
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