When I walked into the Skybound Interactive press room at Gamescom, the developers asked how familiar I was with VR games. I apparently claimed that even though I had never played The Walking Dead: Saints and SinnersI would have no problem picking up Chapter 2. I say “apparently” because I soon swallowed those words faster than a zombie munching some delicious brains.
It is not The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Vengeance this is to blame for my incompetence. On the contrary, the latest installment of the shooter is an expertly crafted VR game packed with some of the most complex interactions I’ve ever experienced in the medium. Instead, my own hubris was my downfall, as I thought I was experienced enough to rush into combat without a plan. If my demo taught me one thing, it’s that I wouldn’t last two minutes in a real zombie apocalypse.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Vengeance increases the scope and intensity of the first game in a few important ways. For one, it takes place in a more expansive world as players are placed in New Orleans’ French Quarter. The game promises to give players more freedom to explore the city and tackle objectives in the order they see fit.
But don’t ask me how this part of the game works. I couldn’t tell you
The demo gave me a seemingly simple task. All I would have to do is infiltrate a building guarded by unfriendly humans and zombies alike and locate a hidden pub. I’m not sure what was supposed to happen after that because I died a million deaths before really progressing the storyline.
While it may seem like I’m salty about it, I actually believe it’s a testament to the game. I went into the demo thinking I could inspire them, but The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Vengeance is a game about preparation. Before heading into the French Quarter, you need to make sure you have a survival plan. That means knowing where each tool is on your body, carefully assigning weapons to each of your holsters depending on the situation you find yourself in, and being able to reload without a second thought. The game rewards players who have a real plan in mind for a zombie apocalypse. I thought I was one of those people, but turns out I’m a terrible prepper.
However, I don’t think you can blame me when Retribution comes with so many fun toys to whip the hell up with. For example, I came across a bow and arrow lying in a narrow hallway. After equipping it with a laser sight, a developer informed me that I not only have access to regular arrows, but also to explosive ones. He was about to say that I should probably wait to use them when there’s more free space, but before he could finish that sentence, I shot one at point-blank range at a zombie, killing us both. You can’t tell me that with the tactile nature of VR I can shoot an exploding dart and then expect me to act responsibly, can you?
The same conundrum arose when I grabbed that chapter’s signature weapon: a chainsaw. Cooler heads would tell you that you might want to take a second to learn how it works. The massive weapon requires you to wield it with two hands, like a real chainsaw. It has a ripcord that needs to be pulled to turn it on, an action that really takes some practice before it can snap. You can bet your pretty little head I didn’t take that advice and started juggling it around while happily attempting to saw zombies in half and getting cute haptic feedback in return.
In all these encounters I died like a buffoon. It wasn’t until I actually stopped and hit the game on its terms that I began to survive. In a moment I crawled through an air duct and found some zombies huddled on the other side. Instead of jumping down and filling up Leroy Jenkins, I equipped my Explosive Arrow and shot it at the pack. I waited while more zombies tumbled into the room from the floors above, another new feature in Retribution. I calmed down and fired off three perfect headshots in a row, allowing me to cross the room safely.
That moment made it clear that Skydance Interactive will deliver a well thought out shooter designed for true VR professionals who enjoy technology for its immersion, not its instant tactile gratification. Those who dig in and take the time to execute a plan will master Retribution’s devastating new tools while exploring more of New Orleans.
Or you can be like me and completely miss an important briefing because you’re too busy knocking bottles off a pole with the tip of your katana. Guess which of us will be fed to the zombies first when push comes to shove?
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Vengeance should start at the end of 2022.
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