Virtual Reality

It’s worth it | Quest 2 VR Review – ‘The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners is a rare breed in the field of virtual reality. Although its original release is nearing its third anniversary, it still counts as one of the best VR titles on any platform to date. I might even have considered it the best VR game until Half-Life: Alyx dethroned a few months later. Things have been quiet since 2020. The pandemic and the shift to mobile devices like the Quest 2 have put a damper on offering ambitious VR releases. Interesting way, TWD: S&S – Chapter 2: Retribution falls victim to these circumstances too, with a timed Quest 2 exclusivity window and a scope that feels more like an ambitious expansion than a full sequel. While it doesn’t push the boundaries as much as the first entry, it’s a thoroughly entertaining adventure through the zombie-infested neighborhoods of New Orleans.

In all fairness, Punishment does not claim to be a sequel in its own right; it’s another chapter in the story of the Tourist, who was also the protagonist of the first outing. In Chapter 1, we tried to locate the Reserve, an old army bunker filled with supplies, and this second chapter pits us against the Tower, one of the human factions. The general format remains the same, but the game adds more structure to the story and mission design, such as antagonists being slowly introduced and built over time; it even ends with a boss encounter. More allies and mission objectives add to the variety of the story, even though the delivery is the same. We hide in an old, but expanded, base in the cemetery grounds and head into town each day to scavenge for supplies, occasionally completing a mission objective for an ally.

You can even import your original save file if you care about continuity. Considering the continuity, it’s highly recommended to play the first entry before jumping into this one, especially since the second chapter has a better story structure that builds on the first. What I liked was that some decisions change the outcome of the story, and it’s still possible to kill a quest giver if you want. That said, the story isn’t biting, and aside from stiff interactions with stiff NPCs, Punishment follows the same path as the first. Luckily, moment-to-moment story delivery isn’t a big deal. We’re here to create some VR zombies, after all.

Once Punishment begins, it’s like going back to basics. As a tourist, we now have an expanded base set up in the same graveyard, filled with ammunition, resources, and handy weapons. Although it seems at odds with the premise of a survival horror game, Punishment melts that cushion of safety and comfort. Each day we head to one of many locations in and around New Orleans to pick up supplies or advance the plot. It doesn’t take long to realize that many places are teeming with enemies, humans and otherwise. This means two things: more action-packed encounters and a constant need for more resources to craft and fill the dwindling supply of goodies. The game has a few tricks to introduce newness, but overall you’ll be doing the same things you did in the first entry, except the weaponry available is greatly expanded to ensure your survival.

It strikes a good balance between visiting familiar places of Chapter 1 and the introduction of new locations that feature more interiors and more verticality, which can be difficult when zombies start falling to you instead of walking towards you. The most impactful change is the introduction of night missions. Previously we could only visit one location per day, and now there can be up to two locations if you visit one at night.

Interestingly, this is where I found the most fun. I didn’t immediately understand the increased number of enemies and resources during daytime encounters, which made the experience feel more like an action shooter than a survival title. stealth. Night missions go the way of a traditional stealth game, with additional weapons and tools that allow you to survive the night. Flares can be thrown or fired, and zombies quickly flock to the light source.

It’s not a completely new experience because the lights are out, but the reduced visibility and tools make nighttime missions infinitely more tense to experience – especially when things are too calm during your treasure hunt. Your flashlight is equipped with ultraviolet light that reveals hidden resources and messages in the environment. Night missions reveal new resources that can only be found at night, such as phosphorus and small bugs/critters that advance the two new crafting tables, each featuring a few tantalizing upgrades, the most notable of which is a chainsaw .

Running around with a chainsaw and mowing down the undead is incredibly awesome and adds another layer of carnage to the excellent combat system of Punishment. It’s still a physics-based model, with the ability to grab heads and drive too-sharp objects into them with great force – or use an ax to pull them out. It’s not as fresh as it was three years ago, but it still works great for simulating the weight of objects and their devastating interaction with moving bodies. Interactions were often limited to enemies’ heads, but the chainsaw easily dismantles anything that gets caught in its sharp rotating chains. Although fuel is an issue, it’s fun to fight your way out of a horde of zombies.

These aren’t the only additions, however. Uzis, head banging gloves, sawed-off shotguns, and a grenade launcher round out your killer arsenal, and each one is satisfying enough to use. If that’s not enough, silencers and laser pointers are great minor additions that make certain weapons more interesting. Punishment doesn’t reinvent, but it expands on the enjoyable gameplay and the scavenging and crafting loop in so many fun ways that it’s easy to get lost in it again. Whether Chapter 1 is something to pass, Chapter 2 will likely see more content added over time.

Punishment is an awesome and incredibly fun game to play in VR, but you might be disappointed with the lack of effort to evolve the gameplay. There are more varied ways to experience the gameplay that Saints and sinners premiered in 2020, but it’s not reinventing itself or using virtual reality, and that’s fine. Punishment will keep you busy for 15 hours or more, with hidden collectible blueprints, side missions, and other goodies or crafting. For a VR game, it’s already longer, which is badly needed and appreciated. The only real complaint I have is that the tech base isn’t all that impressive on the Quest 2.

Saints and sinners already didn’t look or work extraordinarily well on Quest 2, but the second chapter doesn’t push that bar. I encountered fewer frame drops than with the first game on the Quest 2, but Chapter 2 also looks decidedly rougher in presentation. Details are lacking everywhere, character models look ridiculously bad at times, and pop-in texture is a regularity. It still manages to immerse you with its gameplay, but the visuals never make you believe you’ve been immersed in an alternate reality. This is somewhat expected on Quest 2 – but we’ve seen more impressive recent examples, like Red matter 2 – that’s not great since the PC and PSVR versions won’t be released until February and March, respectively.

On the bright side, it looks like Skydance supports cross-buying, so if you own the Quest 2 version, you can claim the Oculus PC version on release. That said, I hope the experience is improved on more powerful systems, as I encountered a ton of bugs with glitching or floating elements in the environment and zombies suddenly appearing or disappearing. The latter can have a tangible impact on gameplay and immersion, and I’m not sure when or how this bug is triggered, as it occurs at the most random intervals. It is perfectly playable, but in a few months it will be the worst version of Punishment player. If you can’t wait for the full PC release or if you’re limited to a 2 quest, this can still be a great way to spend several hours in one of the best VR games we’ve seen in recent years.

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Revenge is an exercise in restraint. It adds content where it makes sense and extends the known formula in a few different directions. It never reinvents any part of what made the first game so groundbreaking, and it doesn’t have to. By the time you start swinging a chainsaw through a bunch of zombies, you’ve probably forgotten about the lack of on-screen innovation and appreciate Punishment for what it is: more of the same fun in one of the best VR games to date. The only real downside is that the technical limitations of the Quest 2 have a noticeable impact on the presentation. If you have the means and the patience, waiting for the full PC release in February would be my recommendation. For everyone else, this is a good, if technically flawed, version of a great VR game.

Rating: 8.5/10

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