The Walking Dead Saints & Sinners is a first-person shooter PSVR game that is part of PlayStation VR’s 5th birthday and will be available until the 6th of January. It would be fair to say that killing zombies in traditional video games is a somewhat played out and tired concept but in VR we’re still scratching the surface of different genres and seeing how this new medium can evolve them to greater heights. The Walking Dead Saints and Sinners introduces PSVR owners to the best zombie game on the platform and one of the best survival games of all time.
The Walking Dead Saints and Sinners sets up the apocalyptic situation in good form and within minutes you will be out on your own with only the basics to help you survive. You start off with the bare minimum, using bottles picked up off the ground or kitchen knives to defend yourself against the undead but anything found in the world isn’t exactly what you’d call durable.
Most items will break after just a few uses and thus begins the ultra-satisfying gameplay loop of heading out every morning hitting up different neighborhoods, searching the streets, and raiding houses to salvage as many items that will fit into your backpack. Afterward, you will bring it all back to your camp at night to scrap them for essentials and upgrade your 3 crafting stations which will eventually allow you to make more durable weapons, survival gear, and health items.
You can only make one run per day and every time you go to bed another day begins which triggers more zombies to appear in the world and resources to diminish. In other words, Day 20 is going to be much tougher than Day 5 so getting through the story quickly is somewhat beneficial. But the choice is yours, if you feel like ignoring the story for days and focusing on scavenging and upgrading your workbenches you can do that too and by the end, you’ll feel like a badass with significantly improved health and stamina meters along with weapons that will keep the dead at a distance.
No matter how much I upgraded the weapons I never felt completely safe in The Walking Dead Saints and Sinners. As a game that only supports 2 move controllers to save ammo and to attract less attention you will be using both of your hands to fend off the undead when they get too close, jam shivs into their brains, or whack them with bigger 2 handed weapons. This works fine when it’s just one or 2 of them stumbling around but when the tower bells ring at the end of the day walkers swarm the streets and it’s time to get out of there fast.
Your stamina meter can only handle so much physical exertion until all of your movements are stilted and delayed, then you’re basically zombie food. That’s not to say The Walking Dead Saints and Sinners is all that scary though because while the dark tense atmosphere is exactly what you would want in a game like this, it seldomly relies on jump scares or traditional horror tropes too keep you engaged. The Walking Dead Saints and Sinners is not without its faults as the story tries desperately to rope you in and convince you to care about certain characters through long radio transmissions or voice mission briefings.
But they tend to go on for way too long and I often found myself zoning out while they were talking and not really caring one way or the other who lived and who died. Luckily that one aspect was in no way detrimental to my enjoyment of the game because everything else was done so perfectly that it’s an easy issue to overlook. Each environment is about as detailed as you could expect on the aging PS4 hardware with a nice art direction that straddles the line between realistic and artistic along with some really effective fog that makes the whole town look a bit like Silent Hill.
The audio design deserves a mention too with great atmospheric music that ranges from spooky to intense and audio cues that let you know when you’ve been spotted. The highlight for me was really the controls as everything always felt exactly like it should, grabbing your notepad off your chest to check mission objectives or to find the best escape route felt seamless and has never been implemented in any other VR game this well.
The same goes for your inventory which is as simple as reaching over your shoulder to grab your backpack. The past few years have been an incredible jumping-off point for virtual reality with a lot of breathtaking examples of what the hardware can do but there simply haven’t been many full-featured full-length games like we are used to seeing on the flat screen, The Walking Dead Saints and Sinners changes all of that with one of the most immersive VR games yet but also one that should last you around 15 hours your first time through.
When it’s all over you can keep playing for as long as you want attempting to survive as resources dwindle day after day. You don’t have to be a fan of the show, the comics, horror games, or even zombies to enjoy this one and even with a few minor flaws, it’s about as perfect of a VR game as I’ve ever played.
The Walking Dead Saints and Sinners will be available to PlayStation Plus members until Monday, January 3.
The Walking Dead Saints & Sinners is a full-featured survival game that uses the move controllers superbly to add a new level of immersion. It has stunning environments and audio and the gameplay is just ridiculously fun and addictive. Some excessive load times and long radio conversations don’t deter from the overall amazing package that this game is.