The birth of the series The Walking Dead targata HBO in 2010, which has not yet received an ending and continues to be appreciated all over the world, has done nothing but consolidate the brand born with the well-known comic, which has managed to give the right spark to take off the narrative universe ruled by the undead from other perspectives. The videogame panorama is perhaps the most pregnant from this point of view; from popular sagas such as Clementine's adventure in Telltale's The Walking Dead, to less successful productions such as Overkill's The Walking Dead, we have really seen all the colors. The brand of Skybound Entertainment however, it reached another unexpected peak thanks to the developer Skydance interactive: that of virtual reality. The zombies arrived in the players' helmets, through The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, title available for PC e PlayStation 4.
The title completely deviates from the adventures of the narrative universe in question, however, proposing a concept very similar to the idea of a zombie patented in the saga, which is also slightly varied in this thanks to some details, but which is proposed good or bad with the same characteristics. Hordes of zombies, slow but strong, infest in fact the streets of one New Orleans post-apocalyptic, flooded and with lack of resources everywhere, but which will have to be traveled by the player. Let's not get lost in chatter therefore, wanderers could be lurking, and let's find out in the next lines what the Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners experience offered us during our sessions with Oculus Rift S.
Walking around New Orleans
As already mentioned, the adventure is structured in a post-apocalyptic New Orleans, where the player has the task of passing day by day from one chapter to the next, moving between the 10 paragraphs present. The departure of the adventure, however, takes place in a well-defined cemetery, where the plot begins. This is not particularly pressing, and the English language only in fact, it manages to make it unattractive for many, creating in some ways disinterest in the playful formula offered, which aims to capture the player. The user will then find himself doing some side missions provided by good survivors, wandering around the areas day by day, without stopping to search for the tools necessary to carry on the development of the main campaign. The point of reference always remains the only cemetery, in which the player can rest every time, restoring and strengthening himself as needed. His base camp is a bus located in the gloomy place, now uninhabited, but well used to stop and catch your breath.
On the outside of the same there are then some special sheets, which are divided into very specific gills, and allow you to create various tools or to enhance some features of the protagonist. The thousand objects found in the mission, in the event that they are not useful for the purposes of the gameplay, can be recycled in the aforementioned base camp, in order to obtain the necessary material for the various recipes, which will therefore allow to avoid a game over too much in the phases advanced of the work. Exhausted, at the end of the day the user-controlled survivor ends up remarrying. However, as the morning arrives, the number of wanderers increases from time to time, while that of resources decreases, and they are repositioned in a causal way in the scenarios. It is therefore not the case to spend too much time in completing each ravine, and it is necessary to have the main objectives always in mind once you take the field in the missions, in order to conclude the campaign in about ten hours and avoid as much as possible. the dangers posed in the streets of the city.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and realism
Everything is summarized in a survival certainly interesting, but certainly not innovative, except for its patented gameplay for virtual reality, and superlative in the same. Every action that the player can perform is explained in a clear and concise tutorial, in which it is possible to get acquainted with some sidearms and guns, as well as some techniques to escape the gripes of the infected. The interactions are performed through real movements, which can be accompanied by minimal but well-made settings, which in all probability avoid motion sickness phenomena.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners gameplay is truly amazing and enjoyable
From taking an ax with two hands, to sticking a zombie's head with a knife while holding it with the other hand, routines seen thousands of times are very magical and fun, and make the fight with the infected - the same ones that for many have now come to boredom due to their popularity - unique and never before seen. To improve the gameplay we find one well done physics, considering at least the current possibilities of virtual reality, which aims to give a very specific entity to each object, which is unlikely to be the same as another. Using a broken bottle as a weapon is very different from wielding an ax with one or two hands, and the sharp blows to be delivered to break the skull of the infected, as is obviously tradition for an adventure with the undead, are very different.
The same is also true for firearms, which they all recharge in a realistic and always different way, based on the structure of the gun in question, and allow you to hit enemies from a distance thanks to the discreet shooting system present. To facilitate killing, it is always possible to get close to enemies, in order to use a hand to hold the head of a wanderer and hit it more calmly, once it is ascertained that there are no other similar ones to give the player a hard time. As is also the practice in this case, strength is made by the group, and except for encounters with survivors still alive, it is really difficult to die against a very small number of enemies, which however tend to multiply due to the noise produced during movement and in clashes. In all this, it is often necessary to consult the notebook placed in the pocket of the protagonist to obtain information regarding the map and the main mission.
This is placed on the right side of the chest, but it is also necessary to illuminate the dark ravines with a torch, positioned instead on the left, which will often be slammed to avoid dangerous jams. The backpack is no exception, to be pulled out of the shoulders, which can contain a good multitude of objects from the beginning, and will be filled from time to time to bring a good loot home, or consulted in case of injuries or weapons to change . We only have two hands, and this is where it comes into play the realism of virtual reality, which forces the player to perform each of these actions in frightening environments, while being continually hunted by any presence, whether it is interested in his brain or his possessions.
Dark and… repetitive
The work lacks depth in several features, such as the narrative sector, and is quite repetitive in a short time
To make The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners a certainly successful product, at least for the reference genre, there are not only well-structured game mechanics for virtual reality. The result is in fact guaranteed by the emotions that the player feels once he has worn the helmet, while he is at wander the dark streets of the city, looking around and paying attention to any possible moaning or noise. The work really manages to immerse in the apocalypse in question, creating the right anguish and fear. The graphics sector and the lighting make it perfectly for the purpose, and the final result appears in terms of a glance better than expected. In the city teeming with danger, however, it will be easy to get lost on a really unprepared level design, and of a repetitiveness of the buildings and assets that particularly undermines the exciting exploration, which loses its meaning in continuously monotonous environments. The enemies have the same problem, but their style reminiscent of comics - almost from the Telltale tradition - is at least well done. The gameplay itself can get repetitive in the long run, which is also why the game pushes the user to end the experience without getting lost in frills, a factor that consequently limits replayability and freedom.