By | August 26, 2022
The Walking Dead's VR Game Turned Me Into Zombie Mince |  Digital trends

When I entered the Skybound Interactive press room at Gamescom, the developers asked the staff how familiar I was with VR games. Apparently I claimed that while never having played The Walking Dead: Saints & SinnersI would have no problem picking up Chapter 2. I say “apparently” because I was soon swallowing those words faster than a zombie eating some delicious brains.

It is not The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Retribution it is due to my incompetence. On the contrary, the latest installment of the shooter is an expertly designed VR game filled with some of the most complex interactions I’ve ever experienced in the medium. Instead, my own hubris was my undoing, as I thought I was experienced enough to rush into battle without a plan. If my demo taught me anything, it’s that I wouldn’t last two minutes in a real zombie apocalypse.

Preparation is everything

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Retribution increases the scale and intensity of the first game in some important ways. First, it takes place in a more sprawling world as players are placed in New Orleans’ French Quarter. The game promises to give players more freedom to explore the city and take on objectives in the order they see fit.

But don’t ask me what that part of the game looks like. I couldn’t tell you.

The demo gave me a seemingly easy task. I would just have to infiltrate a building guarded by unfriendly humans and zombies and find a hidden speakeasy. I’m not sure what would happen after that because I died a million deaths before I really moved the plot along.

While it may seem like I’m being salty about it, I actually think it’s a testament to the game. I went into the demo assuming I could wing it, but The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Retribution is a game about preparation. Before you venture into the French Quarter, make sure you have a survival plan in place. That means knowing where every tool on your body is, carefully assigning weapons to each of your holsters based on the situation you’re about to find yourself in, and being able to reload without having to think about it. The game rewards players who have an actual zombie apocalypse plan sketched out in their heads. I thought I was one of them, but it turns out I’m a terrible prepper.

The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners - Chapter 2: Retribution teaser image.

I don’t think you can blame me though when Retribution has so many fun toys to raise hell with. For example, I came across a bow and arrow lying in a narrow hall. After equipping it with a laser sight, a developer informed me that I not only had access to regular arrows, but explosive arrows as well. He was about to say that I should probably wait to use them when there’s more open space, but before he could finish that sentence I fired one at a zombie killing us both. You can’t tell me I can shoot an exploding arrow using The tactile nature of VR and then expect me to act responsibly, right?

The same conundrum arose when I grabbed this chapter’s signature weapon: a chainsaw. Cooler heads would say you might want to take a second to learn how it works. The massive weapon requires you to handle it with two hands as you would a real chainsaw. It has a tear cord that needs to be pulled to turn it on, an action that really takes some practice before letting it rip. You can bet your pretty little head that I didn’t take that advice and started juggling it as I happily tried to saw zombies in half and get some sweet haptic feedback for doing so.

In all these encounters I died like a fool. It wasn’t until I actually stopped and met the game on its terms that I began to survive. In an instant I crawled through an air duct and found some zombies gathered on the other side. Instead of jumping down and going full Leroy Jenkins, I equipped my Explosive Arrow and shot it at the herd. I waited as more zombies tumbled into the room from the floors above, another new feature in Retribution. I steadied myself and fired three perfect headshots in a row, making the room safe to pass.

The player chainsaws a zombie in The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners Chapter 2: Retribution.

That moment made it clear that Skydance Interactive will deliver a thoughtful shooter built for true VR pros who like the technology for its immersion, not its immediate tactile gratification. Those who learn the ropes and take the time to execute a plan will master Retribution’s devastating new tools as they explore a greater stretch of New Orleans.

Or you could be like me and completely miss an important mission briefing because you’re too busy trying to push bottles off a bar with the tip of your katana. Guess which of us gets fed to the zombies first when push comes to shove?

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Retribution is scheduled to launch in late 2022.

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