The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners 2 Review
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Chapter 2: Retribution takes you back to zombie-infested New Orleans. Is the trip worth it?
In The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, I was a tourist in a walker-infested New Orleans. In the Big Easy, I had to find a military bunker full of weapons and supplies. Not only did zombies get in my way, but also two warring factions, who also laid claim to the bunker's treasures. In case you haven't played the first game yet, I won't tell you how the story ends.
The story of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Chapter 2 picks up seamlessly where the events of the first game left off. I meet familiar factions and characters and learn how the city has changed since the events of part one. I carry over my progress from my play through the first game (thanks to a recent progress import). This allows me to access my collected weapons and crafting recipes right from the start of Retribution.
However, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Chapter 2: Retribution is a standalone game. You can jump right into the sequel without having played the first game. You won't even be at a disadvantage as you'll get some weapons and workbench upgrades to help you get started.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Chapter 2: Retribution review in brief
The new chapter follows the successful formula of its predecessor almost untouched. Complete missions in small areas to advance an exciting story influenced by your actions.
However, with only two new areas and a few new weapons, this second installment doesn't pass as a full-fledged sequel. In addition, some technical deficits tarnish the game's enjoyment. Still, if you liked part one, you won't be able to avoid Retribution.
If you have the choice, you should go for the Playstation VR 2 version. Unsurprisingly, the VR game looks much better on that platform.
Primarily tested on: Meta Quest 2
You should play The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners 2 if you ...
- want to know how the story of the original game continues,
- want to cut up zombies with a chainsaw,
- want to explore new areas in New Orleans, and
- generally like this zombie survival genre.
You should not play The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners 2 if you ...
- expect a "real" sequel with a new setting and a completely new environment,
- if you can't stand the weak graphics of the Quest 2 and don't have PS VR 2 or PC VR headset as an alternative, and if
- the predecessor was already too much for your nerves.
Déjà vu in the zombie apocalypse
Those who have played the first game will recognize some things, such as the unchanged tutorial. The general gameplay will also be familiar to those who played the original. From the base camp, I set off on missions in small, but freely explorable areas by boat.
Except for two new areas, all of them are already familiar from part one. While I was forced to take my beauty sleep in the predecessor, I now also go exploring at night. However, these excursions are considerably more dangerous, since there are more walkers in the dark.
To defend myself against the undead, I collect tons of trash on my forays, which I recycle back at the base. This is how I get crafting material, which I use to build various melee and ranged weapons at workbenches. The hunt for hidden recipes keeps me exploring.
From gloves with metal attachments to an improved machine gun, good weapons make it much easier to face the undead. Enemies become stronger and more numerous as the game progresses.
I also have to defend myself from time to time against living human adversaries. They are not particularly intelligent, but when they appear in large numbers, things can quickly get dicey. Stamina is limited and quickly runs out in close combat or while running. An exhausted tourist has limited mobility. Fighting and escaping become much more difficult.
Fortunately, not all survivors want to kill me. Some are friendly. Or, at least, not hostile. They help me to stay alive in this dangerous environment. In return, I have to do them a favor now and then.
The NPCs do not only distribute tasks and drive the story forward. They also repeatedly present me with sometimes difficult decisions, as they did in the first game. Be careful - those decisions can have consequences and influence the course of the story. Thus, The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners 2 invites you to play through several times.
Let's get physical
The controls are the same as in the first game, so they are well thought out and largely intuitive. You start by selecting your preferred hand. Move with the stick of the corresponding controller and determine the viewing direction with the stick of the other controller (e.g. by snap-turning) or by head movements.
Press the Y button to eject a magazine or confirm the selected response in conversations depending on the situation. Use the side triggers to grab items, ledges, and weapons.
The rest of the controls are physical. The tourist carries weapons, a diary, a backpack, and a flashlight in various places on his body. If I want to use any of them, I move my hand to the desired item and grab it with the corresponding trigger. This is also how I reload firearms or use heavy melee weapons like the axe, which I have to wield with both hands.
This adds a great deal of realism to the fight for survival in the zombie apocalypse. When the undead stagger towards me and I fumble bullets into an old revolver with trembling hands, it's much more intense than automatically reloading at the push of a button. Without practice, however, it can quickly end in virtual death.
Since this is a sequel, you probably already know what to expect. Nevertheless, I would like to suggest at this point that squeamish people should think twice before buying this game. There are no particularly shocking moments in the game, but the explicit violence throughout might be too much for some.
Actively ramming a pointed object through the top of a zombie's skull face-to-face in virtual reality is a completely different experience than sitting in front of the TV and watching your character do something similar at the push of a button. If you don't have any problems with that, you're in for a real slaughterfest. Gore fans will especially enjoy the new chainsaw and the aforementioned gloves.
One foot in the grave
Unfortunately, the technology doesn't quite keep up with the rest of the game. While the environment is coherently designed, many textures wash out. Objects, buildings, and people stand out with noticeable rough edges. This is to be expected on a mobile system like the Quest 2, but when objects and characters merge with the environment, I wonder if the developers shouldn't have invested a bit more time on fine-tuning.
Also, everything is way too dark. Of course, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners 2 is a gloomy game, but still, I shouldn't have to use the flashlight outdoors during the day to be able to see. There is no way to adjust the display brightness.
The sound, on the other hand, is worth listening to and adds a lot to the atmosphere. The characters are also excellently dubbed, but often with a strong southern dialect. Subtitles in English and other languages are available.
If you own both a Meta Quest 2 and a PlayStation VR 2, it's better to get the version for the Sony system. Thanks to the significantly higher performance, you'll experience the game with high-resolution textures, more detailed environments, and more sophisticated particle effects, among other things. Read more about the differences in graphics between the Quest 2 and PSVR 2 versions in the linked article.
Review of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Chapter 2: Retribution
If you liked The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, you won't want to miss chapter two - in spite of technical flaws. Retribution is more of an expansion of the predecessor than a completely new game, but with new weapons, two new areas, and an exciting continuation of the established story, it brings a lot of fresh air to the series.