To put it bluntly, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is genuinely terrifying. And I’m convinced the game’s creators started with a pretty simple premise and built everything with that in mind: ‘how to make the player feel insanely distressed in literally every conceivable way’.

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Details:

Developer: Skydance Interactive
Publisher: Skybound Games
Available On: Steam (Index, Vive, Rift, Windows MR), Oculus Store (Rift)
Reviewed On: Rift
Release Date: January 23rd, 2020
Price: $40

Gameplay

Regardless of whether that supposed premise was Skydance’s intended goal or not, that’s exactly how I feel about Saints & Sinners: morally compromised from no-win scenarios, mentally fatigued from a constant barrage of the undead, and demoralized from grasping at what little detritus I can scrounge up along the way in a grey, unforgiving world. With only a few caveats, it is a remarkably fun (and frightening) virtual safari through a gang and zombie-infested New Orleans, and one you can easily slip into for hours of zombie-ganking carnage at a time.

To help infect you with this inescapable existential angst, the game is built on a few key elements: you need to scrounge for basic supplies, and craft those into useful items to help you throughout your successive hops across the map. A few cork boards back at your base present you with recipes that you can research and then craft by pushing a single ‘build’ button.

Supply recipes, Photo by Road to VR

Once you leave your base, you have both a stamina and health bar that needs constant attention. Getting physical like sprinting and using melee weapons kills your stamina and creates hunger, which additionally puts a temporary cap on your max stamina until you eat something wholesome—not that garbage you find in the NOLA wasteland, only home-made fixins. Similarly, getting infected from z-bites puts a temporary cap on your max health until you take medicine.

It’s not a very tough balancing act, provided you’re not overwhelmed by a pack of shambolic brain-eating monsters, which is usually the case. Killing zombies one at a time is easy, but more than three and you better have your head on straight and your supplies in order. And it’s not like there’s a wristwatch on your arm that tells you when to leave because the sun will go down and zombies will rush in to chase you through the streets until you collapse of exhaustion. Oh wait. That’s totally a thing.

Image courtesy Sundance Interactive

Escape the level before the clock runs out, or you’ll be overrun by a basically unsurvivable horde, forcing you to either start the level over entirely fresh or alternatively restart the level with your accumulated cache where you last died. The latter option can be useful if you died close to the dedicated starting area, but you’ll be stepping out from there empty-handed; if it’s deep in the level, you can basically kiss it goodbye at that point. It’s a clever, anxiety-ridden way of making you asses things quickly.

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And in practice, this places you right on the edge of failure at nearly every turn. Like in the many of the beloved RPG titles from Bethesda such as Skyrim and the Fallout series, you need to be smart about what stuff you put into your finite backpack. If you want to build ancillary bad-ass weapons like assault rifles or machetes, you’ll need to grind it out a little bit for the raw material. While you can make it to the end of the game even the most basic starter equipment, chasing down even cooler weapons had me running around and rifling through drawers outside of the main storyline for a good amount of time.

Note: reaching your controller over your left shoulder pulls out your backpack. On your right shoulder is a large weapon, and on your left and right hips are holsters for knives and pistols. I like these sorts of holster systems, although you’ll need some muscle memory to make sure you’re not accidentally tossing away an important weapon willy-nilly.

Photo by Road to VR

And there is a singular storyline to follow with a few choices along the way, but not much in the way of truly world-shifting decisions to make. No matter how hard you suck up to either of the game’s dueling forces, you won’t find yourself becoming the king of your own gang.

I only wish the game had the budget to be a game at the grandiosity of Fallout, with its numerous intertwining stories and large, open-world environment, although I’m happy Saints & Sinners didn’t overextend itself. More on that in the ‘Immersion’ section below.

Image courtesy Skydance Interactive

What about zombie killing, you ask? If you’re not a good shot (head shots only, boys and girls), you’ll be grabbing zombies by the head and braining them for the foreseeable future—something that is intentionally super off-putting. And you have to watch out, because there are three types of zombies, a vanilla zombie, one that craps out infectious fumes when you kill it up close, and helmeted zombies with different exposed areas of their skulls. It’s a nice way of creating difficulty without artificially making them bullet sponges.

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Although you’ll find a number of guns on missions, they have lower durability than home-made versions, which take considerable resources to research, build and feed with appropriate ammo.

Image courtesy Skydance Interactive

Save states are equally as punishing, as you’re only afforded autosaves when you wake up in the morning and when you land at your destination, which makes wandering through larger levels really a truly daunting task. One false move, and you’re back to square one, albeit a bit wiser about the map’s layout and general zombie placement. It’s definitely a double-edge sword; it keeps you on your toes, but can frustrate when you have to race your way through the same dialogue tree over and over.

This game really got under my skin, and in the best sort of way. Like both the comics and the TV show, The Walking Dead is less about the zombies, and more about the survivors fighting it out for survival. And to that effect, you choose who lives and who dies, and there aren’t any easy answers. You can try to talk your way out of pulling the trigger, but NPCs have their reasons—human reasons for doing the terrible things they do. And everyone is pretty terrible, you included.

In the end, it took me around 11 hours to complete Saints & Sinners. After the credits rolled, you’re tossed back into the game for infinite scavenging, crafting, and zombie ganking throughout the world. I hoped there’d be a little more to it than that to cap off an ultimately satisfying story filled with warring factions, betrayal, loss, and enough zombies to shake a stick at, but I was more than happy with putting down the headset and leaving the game’s fractured, depressing verion NOLA behind.

Immersion

Firstly, the game’s sound design is pretty great. Zombies visually flail around when they notice you, but they also give off a number of warning noises that should keep you from having to keep your head on a swivel. Constant moaning gives you a good read on their general position, and more aggressive moaning means they’ve seen you and are coming towards you. In addition, there’s also a few different levels of ‘da-dump’ sound effects that happen when a zombie is interested in you.

The soundtrack is also littered with noises that, if you’re not carefully listening, could sound like breathing and screaming, which essentially puts your perceptive system into overdrive as you try to keep your ears open for the nasty ghoulies. In addition, voice acting isn’t hammy, or overdone, which is a feat when it comes to Southern accents.

Image courtesy Skydance Interactive

Sound is so much of an important factor because the game is extremely dark, even in the ‘daytime’, which is really more like a temporary twilight. You of course have your military-style flashlight to help you out when you’re tippy-toeing through poorly lit crypts and passageways, but you have to get used to just how dark and grey everything is. Although the screenshot above makes the zombies look a little too shabby, it’s not something I really noticed (or cared about) in the game. Animations are on point though, so zombies definitely feel real enough when they grab you and you nearly smash your monitor in fear.

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If you’re hoping for unbridled exploration, level design is intentionally on the small side—only the size of a few small city blocks—and only offer a few areas to explore, which shunts you to what few NPC side missions there are alongside the comparatively overbearing main quest line. Again, I’m more glad that Saints & Sinners is reducing complexity and not tossing it in where it doesn’t belong in the name of making a technically larger game. Instead of putting emphasis on pure exploration, the clock is constantly ticking away, so you really only have a few minutes to dash in to admire the actual craftsmanship of the game’s levels.

Image by Road to VR

Saving the best for last: yes, this is a physics-based game, although it’s not nearly as married to the concept as, say, Boneworks (2020). Weapons have weight, and your hands don’t clip through the world, which I’m a big, big fan of on principle. Low stamina makes things heavier, and your virtual hands won’t keep up with your physical hands as a result, which can feel a little weird at first.

Because of a strange hand placement issue with the Oculus Touch controllers, I walked away after a few hours with a distinctly ‘off’ feeling to the actual placement of my physical body, which lasted for about an hour after playing. There is a setting that allows you to have a ghostly representation of your controller’s actual position in contrast to their simulated position, but that strangely felt less immersive.

Comfort

Saints & Sinners offers up a fair bit of comfort options that should keep most player happy, as it includes snap-turning and smooth turning locomotion. Variable FOV blinders help keep forward and turning movement comfortable as a default, but can be toggled off in the settings menu.

There is very few moments when your point of view is forced in a slightly uncomfortable way, like when you’re climbing on a ledge or being grabbed by a zombie, although these are few and far between. Otherwise, Saint & Sinners is extremely comfortable for both standing and seated players.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
9

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  • Rune

    Did you review the game using Rift or Rift-S? Seems the game was made using oled – and comment on lcd vs oled in this dark game? Also the sound is completely different using Rift-S or Rift.

    • Adrian Meredith

      oleds in vr headsets don’t go true black like normal head sets anyway because of low persistence mode. Comparing my cv1/quest to the pimax 5k+ the bigger difference for me was colour reproduction than contrast levels

  • benz145

    Thanks for reading our Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners review! Please note the following before commenting so that we can have a thoughtful discussion:

    • We scored this game 9/10 – ‘Great’ by our linear scale.

    • Even if the text of the review focuses more on critique than praise, or vice versa, the score aims to boil down the reviewer’s overall opinion of the experience.

    • If you haven’t played the game, understand the limits of your knowledge.

    • If you have played part of the game, your experience may differ from those who have completed it in its entirety.

    • Road to VR does not ever accept payment for reviews or any editorial content.

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  • namekuseijin

    can’t wait

  • John G

    From the Steam page, looks like the Index and Index controllers have problems :(

    Can you guys address that?

    Looks fantastic. I’m glad to see more fully immersive game with VR UI’s like the backpack.

    I mean, I really enjoy Skyrim and Fallout, but their UI isn’t so hot in a VR sense. Mods can change that, but still are limited.

    == John ==

    • Gonzax

      I’ve only played for an hour but I didn’t find any problems at all with the Index controllers. Personally I changed the running button to a single press on the right trackpad because I find it more comfortable than clicking on the left stick but other than that everything was perfect.

    • Lucas Cooper-Bey

      I haven’t had any of those problems either. The controls are working flawlessly with my index and knuckles

    • NooYawker

      There was an issue for people that had Vive headset but Index controllers. The game would think you were using Vive wands. But they immediately released a patch to fix it.

    • Zachary Scott Dickerson

      I accidentally grab my backpack when reaching for flashlight, all the time. and randomly drop my side weapons on accident just moving my hands to my sides. Very annoying, but otherwise they work great in game. Throwing knives into walkers is amazingly satisfying.

  • Peter Laurent

    No roomscale support though apparently?

    • Eric Swisher

      Ok, so this one Is a kind of thing. I have a nearly 3mx3m space, and i can traverse it without the headset wigging out or bringing my view with me. the real issue is the fact that you have ~6″ of Y axis movement before the whole world starts to follow your head; meaning you need to hit a button to crouch

  • Connor Ludovissy

    Thanks for the review. I’m hopeful for this one… but waiting for a sale.

  • A game so intimidating, it can make you think with your butt. As mentioned in this line:

    “It’s a clever, anxiety-ridden way of making you asses things quickly.”

    • Btw, if you like this kind of game, you really should look up The Forest. It’s more of a survival thing on an island, but the fear of imminent cannibal attacks is impressive. Lots of crafting too, and supports the ability to make a base. That game doesn’t get NEARLY enough attention considering how polished it was, and that it was release around 2 years ago with VR support.

  • Nads

    It’s a truelly remarkable game, especially the combat and physics system, haven’t seen any bugs or issues. Played about an hour so far and have loved it, playing on index and no controller issues for me like some people mentioned.

    The review is correct though in that it would be great if we could get a bigger budget walking dead game, just imagine a whole massive world like fallout 4. I really hope this game is a huge success and we get a bigger sequel!

    • gothicvillas

      How about lack of physical crouching? This single issue is game breaking for me

      • Andrew McEvoy

        There was an update today, think I saw something about this in the notes. You might need to change some settings in the .ini file though.

  • Lucas Cooper-Bey

    I am really loving this game. The immersion is spot on. The visuals and sound are incredible.

  • JesperL

    Why does the ground go up and down when i crouch?
    I know there is a crouch button, but the ground following the headset makes me motionsick.

  • blue5peed

    I like how you have a section for immersion this is the most important thing to me in a VR game. I can’t really handle scary things though, not so sure I want to be deeply immersed in this hellscape.

  • If you cannot crouch in this game that means it isn’t tracking room scale. Which in turn means this is a piece of total garbage. The easy-going reviews for VR in general are really starting to piss me off. Seriously.

    A game you can’t crouch in IS NOT VR.

    • ZeroStress

      The game works perfectly unless you try to crouch with your body rather than the toggle button. You can lean around, climb, etc. It’s an extremely immersive experience on my multiple headsets although I prefer playing on my RiftS. Like you mentioned, they said they are working to satisfy even people who want to play roomscale. This was clearly a PC-first title, since it’s shipping on PC before PSVR or Quest.

    • JB1968

      Calm down, vr game that is no room-scale ready can be still great. Also not everyone, or precisely, majority of VR players are using their setups on space less than 2×2 metres so the fact you can’t crouch is irelevant in regards to the game quality.

    • FailMaster

      Calm down you massive moron.

      • More massive than you.

        • FailMaster

          Speak English much? You’re still a massive moron, this hasn’t changed.

          I’m not defending anything but you have some serious priority issues in life, to get this bent out of shape over this. Seek some help, you really need it – this isn’t a joke or snark.

          • Interesting, because you seem bent out of shape by me.

            Don’t worry about it though. I’m used to it. :)

            By the way, don’t let my grousing fool you. I’m buying this game.

          • FailMaster

            Almost missed this gem of a reply. I’m not bent out of shape about you at all. I look at you with mockery and mostly pity actually – someone who is so uptight and idiotic, has their priorities in life horribly skewed.

            The fact is, you still caved and are buying this game despite sounding like a massive fool in the first place. Congrats!

    • Zachary Scott Dickerson

      there is a patch to crouch, but it gets annoying bending down to open cabinets all the time when scavenging.

  • Eric Swisher

    My only gripes are the fact that there is no physical crouching (devs are looking into fixing this, as it was a HORRIBLE design choice, very few people play VR seated) and the gun angles are a bit off, but they are going to be fixing that too. Other than those things, this is an absolutely stellar title, and I cant keep myself away.

  • Roger Bentley

    Devs please put in a horde mode like arizona sunshine horde mode

  • Turkish Comment below: (Türkçe yorum aşağıda)

    Hello. I would like to express that I am playing the game and and that I am really disappointed and nervous.

    First of all, the game has nothing to do with promotional videos. This is a scam that really frustrates and makes people feel angry and deceived! Technical critics are already many. You read from them.

    We will talk about something else and more serious. When he was at the beginning of the game, a little bit advanced and a zombie attack happened while he had just acquired the knife and gun. I didn’t know what happened, my knife broke and fell to the ground. I couldn’t get it again and I couldn’t find it!

    Not only that. With one bullet left, I fired and finished. I immediately tried to fill the bullet. But what a cure! It is as if this treacherous game that does not want you to die and progress is filling the bullets one by one, it bursts the bullet of the six guns! I filled a bullet, and while I was running away and trying to fill more bullets, I was running out of energy and I stopped officially! Sure zombies stop! How many are coming at once. I couldn’t fill the bullet, I couldn’t get the gun I got from the ground because of the attack, and I died helplessly.

    But the strangeness is here, when I start the game again, I had neither a knife nor a gun! I said, “Is this going to happen? Let me take it from where I dropped it.” This time I could not find anywhere. It turns out that you went to a backpack icon next to where you died and got your supplies from there! Of course, if you don’t die until you get there! Anyway, we went around. But there was only a knife in it. There was no weapon again. And we’re dead again!

    This is not how it goes and this game is not played like this, we downloaded the trainer from the internet. With unlimited life and ammo, we could supposedly play and enjoy the game comfortably. But what wander! We never got a gun again! Neither explodes, nor shotgun. There are none of them, but believe me, for 2-3 hours, he brought me the ammunition of different weapons! In the meantime, broken, broken weapons and shotguns appear as you make fun of it! I even said to kill a person who has a gun in two times and get his gun. I saw that the weapon that fell on the ground after the man died was deliberately broken by the game and I was crazy!

    No story, no intermediate videos, or no intermediate videos! I do not know where the video in this promotional video is animated and which makes you think that the game has great adventure and visuality. I don’t think it’s somewhere in the game!

    In-game visuals and gameplay are really troublesome and gameplay, as we mentioned above, is very dire as we have not seen in any game. I came somewhere and now I had to stop. I got tired of getting killed with the spoons and screwdrivers I found the zombies, and the iron I found later. Because you have no other purpose and story! Ha, do not take things like bricks and iron candle holders around you for nothing. They’re not doing anything when you throw them and hit them in the head. Oh, they’re causing you to die!

    I really stepped out of the game with the feeling of being seriously angry and deceived, and I could not take my speed and see it at work, I wrote them to inform everyone.

    I would never have gone this far without the trainer. Maybe I couldn’t move on but I would be upset that there were beautiful scenes ahead! But thanks to the trainer, I saw that there was nothing other than killing stupid zombies in empty spaces, after advancing 7 episodes in the game. And they called it an enormous 15-hour game! It takes up 40 GB of space! I am really unable to explain this. If you play 15 hours, write it, let’s find out!

    But 2-3 hours of pointless disgrace and effort were enough. FYI .. Don’t worry about looking at the promotional videos of this game and buying your money. I would say 60 lira on Steam and free for $ 40 on Oculus and almost buy it. I learned that this game is paying you! Therefore, stay away from buying. It is not like my frustration because yours!

    Merhabalar. Oyunu oynadığımı ve ve gerçekten tam bir hayal kırıklığı ve sinir harbi yaşadığımı ifade etmek isterim.

    Öncelikle oyunun tanıtım videolarıyla hiç ilgisi yok. Bu hakikaten sinirleri bozan ve insanı kızdıran ve aldatılmış hissettiren bir aldatmaca! Teknik eleştiri yapanlar zaten çok. Onlardan okursunuz.

    Biz daha başka ve vahim bir şeyden bahsedeceğiz. Oyunun daha başındayken, oldukça az bir parça ilerlemiş ve bıçak ve silahı henüz yeni edinmişken bir zombi saldırısı oldu. Ne oldu bilemedim bıçağım kırıldı ve yere düştü. Daha bir daha onu alamadım ve bulamadım da!

    Bununla da kalmadı. Bir tane mermim kalmışken, ateş ettim ve bitti. Hemen mermi doldurmaya çalıştım. Fakat ne çare! Sanki ölmenizi ve ilerlemenizi istemeyen bu hain oyun, mermileri tek tek doldurtuyormuş, altı patlar silahın mermisini! Bir adet mermi doldurdum ve hemen uzaklaşıp daha çok mermi doldurmaya çalışırken hemencecik koşma enerjim bitti ve resmen durdum! Tabi zombiler durur mu! Kaç tanesi birden geliyor. Ne mermi doldurabildim, ne saldırı nedeniyle elimden düşen silahı yerden alabildim ve çaresizce öldüm.

    Ancak tuhaflık işte burada ki, oyuna tekrar başladığımda ne bıçağım vardı, ne de silahım! Olacak şey mi bu, gidip düşürdüğüm yerden alayım dedim. Bu sefer de hiç bir yerde bulamadım. Meğer öldüğünüz yerde bir sırt çantası simgesinin yanına gidip oradan malzemelerinizi alıyormuşsunuz! Tabi oraya gidene kadar ölmezseniz! Neyse arkadan dolanarak gittik. Fakat içinde sadece bıçak vardı. Silah yine yoktu. Ve yine öldük!

    Bu böyle gitmez ve bu oyun böyle oynanmaz diyerek, internetten trainer indirdik. Sınırsız hayat ve cephane ile güya oyunu rahat oynayacak ve keyfini çıkarabilecektik. Ama ne gezer! Bir daha asla silah sahibi olamadık! Ne altı patlar, ne shotgun. Hiçbir tanesi yok etrafta inanın ama 2-3 sat boyunca habire değişik silahların cephanelerini toplattı bana! Ha arada sırada dalga geçer gibi bozuk, kırık silahlar ve shotgunlar karşınıza çıkıyor! Hatta iki sefer elinde silah olan bir insanı öldürüp, onun silahını alayım dedim. Adam öldükten sonra her ne hikmetse yere düşen silahın oyun tarafından kasten kırılarak bozulduğunu gördüm ve deli oldum!

    Hİkaye yok, doğru dürüst ara videosu yok, daha doğrusu ara videosu yok ki! O tanıtım videosundaki müthiş animasyonlu ve oyunun harika bir macera ve görselliğe sahip olduğu zannına kapılmanızı sağlayan video nerede hiç bilmiyorum. Oyunun içinde bir yerlerde olduğunu hiç zannetmiyorum!

    Oyun içi görsel ve oynanış gerçekten sıkıntılı ve hele oynanabilirlik yukarıda bahsettiğimiz gibi, hiç bir oyunda rastalamadığımız gibi çok vahim. Bir yere kadar geldim ve artık durmak zorunda kaldım. Zombileri bulduğum kaşık ve tornavidalarla, ha bir de sonradan bulduğum demirle öldürmekten yoruldum ve sıkıldım. Çünkü başka hiç bir amacınız ve hikaye yok! Ha bir de etrafınızdaki tuğla, demir mumluk gibi eşyaları boşuna almayın. Ne fırlattığınızda ve ne de kafalarına vurduğunuzda hiç bir işe yaramıyorlar. Ha ölmenize sebep oluyorlar o ayrı!

    Gerçekten oyundan ciddi olarak sinirlenmiş ve kandırılmış hissiyatıyla çıkış yaptım ve hızımı alamayıp, işte görüyorsunuz, herkesi bilgilendirebilmek için bunları yazdım.

    Trainer olmasaydı asla bu kadar ilerleyemezdim. Belki de ben ilerleyemedim ama ilerde güzel sahneler vardı diye üzülecektim! Ama trainer sayesinde bomboş mekanlarda, aptal zombileri öldürmekten başka hiç bir şeyin olmadığını, oyun içinde 7 bölüm ilerledikten sonra görmüş oldum. Bir de 15 saatlik muazzam oyun diyorlardı! 40 Gb yer kaplıyor filan! Bunu gerçekten açıklamaktan acizim. 15 saat oynayan olursa yazsın, öğrenelim!

    Fakat 2-3 saatlik anlamsız rezalet ve zahmet yetti de arttı. Bilginize.. Sakın bu oyunun tanıtım videolarına bakıp da satın almaya heveslenip paranıza yazık etmeyin. Steam üzerinde 60 lira, Oculustaki 40 dolara göre bedava deyip neredeyse satın alacaktım. Öğrendim ki, üstüne alacaklı ediyormuş bu oyun sizi! Bu nedenle satın almaktan uzak durun. Benim hayal kırıklığıma da benzemez sizinkisi çünkü!

  • I’m reading only enthusiastic comments on this game. It is for sure the game of the moment!

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    This and Asgards Wrath are my top AAA feeling games now.

  • antonio mora

    Turns out The Tourist is none other than Homer

    https://kapwi.ng/c/rciqyS9d

    I love this game.

  • MatBrady

    No Room-Scale, no purchase. If you release this for use on a Vive, then you need to be able to play it as such.