So, we’re finally here. The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is finally on the Oculus Quest, and also the newly released Quest 2, which I don’t have yet. My colleague Jez does, and he’s being ever such a smug arse about it. He would definitely get shot by me if I saw him walking the streets in Saints & Sinners. I’d shoot him in the belly, too, so that he’d come back as a Walker and then I’d get to kill him all over again. I don’t like the guy.
Saints & Sinners actually gives you that kind of choice. If you don’t like somebody, you can shoot them. Zombies are kind of mandatory, though, and you won’t make it long if you try to befriend any of the biters. But the humans? Well, as the TV show has been saying for the last decade – humans are the real monsters.
Saints & Sinners isn’t a pure action game, at least not like Onslaught is. For the record, I loved Onslaught for its balls-to-the-wall gameplay that let me live out the fantasy of bashing in zombies for a few hours.
Saints & Sinners takes a different approach to adapting The Walking Dead for VR gaming. It’s more akin to an RPG, but without all the confusing gear, skill points, and other RPG staples. You do level up, sort of, but there are no experience points. Instead, what you actually experience is how you’ll define yourself, rather than the game throwing numbers at you.
For instance, I learned the “Don’t stand too close to a propane tank when you shoot it skill” by actually standing too close to a propane tank and shooting it. I died and a lesson was learned. Saints and Sinners is full of these little lessons that teach you how to survive in its grizzly world.
You play as The Tourist, a nameless fella who is thrown into the middle of a conflict between The Tower, and everyone else who wants to get inside The Tower. You take over a worn-down school bus which is your base of operations. Here you’ll sleep, craft weapons, store your goodies, and even initiate missions from the on-board radio.
The story is decent and it has its moments. The conflicting factions – The Tower and the Reclaimed – are at war, but you’re not on either side. You’re just a new face with no affiliation, and this works in your favour. An early encounter with two groups led to a real testing moment for my morals. The Tower has one of their men being held by the Reclaimed in a house down the way. If you go and get their man back, they’ll help you get the item you need to progress through one of your missions.
I got over there and was greeted with quite the scene. The kidnapped fella was there – alive – and it turns out he had caused the death of a little girl who belonged to the Reclaimed. These guys want him to suffer and die. They offered to help me clear out The Tower guys who were back in the other house and let me have what I need, all I need to do is shoot the prisoner. I shot him. The dick caused a child to die, so of course I was going to shoot him. The Reclaimed were happy with my actions and started making their way down the stairs, guns at the ready to kill the Tower soldiers.
I let them run ahead of me down the stairs and then I shot them in the head as they went. A couple got out but they didn’t realise what I’d done. They were now in a firefight with the Tower group and I was in the clear. I still killed everybody because why not? I figured that at this point I may as well lean into being the real baddie of the story.
Saints & Sinners has a few of these situations where you’re faced with a choice to make. It adds a bit of depth to the story and it does make you think about your actions because past digressions can – and will – catch up with you in the future.
Likewise, you’ll come across random people as you explore. Some will threaten you with their weapon if you don’t give them what they want – food, meds, bandages – while others just beg for whatever you have. It’s your choice how you go through these encounters, and again, it added a little depth to my scavenging runs. In fact, a lot of my time was spent scavenging instead of playing through the story – I wanted to upgrade my character and weapons as much as possible, for fear of struggling later in the game.
Playing on the Quest was amazing. I previously played a bit of the game on PSVR but I just could not work with the controls, especially during the more tense and frantic moments of the game. And there are many, and even more if you’re a daring killer like me. The tracking and controls were superb on the Quest, and I was really comfortable going into each and every encounter knowing that I’d be able to run away and swap out my weapons at the same without fumbling over the controls.
The game is split up into different areas that you can visit to do your missions, or just explore and scavenge. Hunting zombies is good fun and all, but hunting bits of metal, food, and other useful supplies is necessary and I learned that early on that you can’t be picky when it comes to what you scavenge; that crummy old shoe could be the difference between you healing up when you get back to base, or venturing out the next day with only half your health.
Killing zombies is very, very cool, and at times, frightening. Alone, a single walker can be done in with whatever sharp object you’ve got to hand. Mostly, you’ll want a good knife, but a screwdriver or a glass bottle will do in a pinch. Shooting attracts nearby walkers, and bullets aren’t easy to come by, with the game demanding that you collect the resources needed to make more ammo.
More walkers means more problems, though, and you have a stamina bar to maintain. Stamina is used by sprinting and by physical combat. One is no problem, two is still manageable, but three or more could be overwhelming if you aren’t upgraded enough. Knowing when to pick a fight with the dead is as important as knowing how to take them out quickly and quietly, and sometimes it’s best to just sneak on by. Speaking of which…
Saints & Sinners goes all-out in portraying its version of the world as a right nasty place to be. You can, and must, cut open zombie bellies and smother their guts on your body. This is a really cool mechanic lifted straight from the comics and the TV show, and it lets you walk among the dead. Minging, but cool.
Zombies aren’t your only problem, mind you. The two warring factions occupy areas of each location, and they’re not always friendly. Sometimes, you’ll have to engage in a bit of human-to-human combat, and I actually really enjoyed this. Gunfights are slow and you have to make every shot count. Human enemies can be a little dumb, but this actually worked in my favour a lot of the time, allowing me to pick off the bad guys with an axe to the head as they rounded the corner one by one. Another neat feature is that if you kill a human but don’t destroy their brain, they’ll come back as a zombie. This scared the living poop out of me when I got into a gunfight with some random guy on the street early in the game. I killed him, walked over and took whatever he dropped, and then explored the area. A minute later and he was behind me, coming in for a big zombie cuddle. It might seem like a small thing, but you’ll definitely remember it when you take out a group of humans and forget to stick a knife into their not-yet-zombified skulls.
Graphically, Saints & Sinners has been downgraded heavily to run on the Quest. It’s still a good looking release, mind you, and considering that this is available on PSVR and PCVR, it’s a wonder it runs on the Quest at all. The game’s world is a little flatter here, and the Silent Hill-style fog does make seeing into the distance difficult, but the atmosphere is spot on, perfectly encapsulating what it must feel like to walk in this world. Creeping through the large mansions with only a weak flashlight for company had me clenching my bum cheeks plenty.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners on Quest isn’t the definitive version of the game, but it’s my personal favourite. Wire-free, running on the headset hardware, and still feature-complete is how I like my games, and Saints & Sinners manages to stand up with the bigger, more graphically impressive versions really well.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Oculus Quest Review
Overall - Must Play - 9/10
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is an easy game to recommend. Whether you’re a fan of the series or not, the game itself is solid and an excellent addition to the Oculus Quest’s library.
The cutbacks to the visuals are clear to see but you’re still getting the full-fat experience on a portable VR headset, and that itself is worth paying to see.
- Nails the atmosphere of The Walking Dead, warts and all
- Deep RPG-like system that won’t scare away RPG newcomers
- Combat is heavy and hard, and the gunfights against humans are always thrilling encounters
- Graphically downgraded, sure, but the world is still crystal clear and the details that make the atmosphere are still intact
- Sometimes the graphical downgrades are too severe with a loss of detail in character models at times. A bug or a feature?
- Online co-op is a must for such great games to get the long life they deserve. It’s a crying shame that there’s no co-op here
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using Oculus Quest.
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