The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Ch 2 Retribution – Surviving the first hours on PSVR 2

Too saintly, too sinful.
Walking Dead Saints & Sinners Ch 2 Header

My first and immediate feeling upon loading up The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners — Chapter 2: Retribution was of being rather lost. The first game came out for PSVR sometime after I’d had to put my headset into storage — thankfully it is getting a free or $10 upgrade on PlayStation VR 2, so I’m keen to revisit it — and so while I might know some of the broad strokes of the story and have played an early section of the game, I’m not intimately familiar with the characters and major players in this zombie-infested rendition of New Orleans. Still, the quality of this undead VR playground is clear to see regardless.

As suggested by the game’s overly long title, this is a direct continuation of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, building on the same technical foundations, adding to a map filled with existing locations, a day-by-day progression system, and a continuation of narrative arcs. So directly linked are the two games that you can import a save file from the original to continue on from where you left off, and if you’re in need of a refresher on how to play, you run through the same tutorial. For returning players, it will likely feel more like a major narrative expansion pack than a whole new game.

So, starting off in Chapter 2 without having really played the first is a rather odd-feeling scenario. There’s an introductory cutscene in a similar style to the first game’s opening, with a theme park-style boat ride through a flooded part of the city as dioramas playing out around you to narration quickly gives the lay of the land. But even with that, you won’t feel like you’ve really got the full picture. It’s a rare case in video games where the player might as well be an amnesiac, but the character you play as definitely isn’t.

You’ll be putting on the well-worn shoes of The Tourist, an outsider to New Orleans that has been dragged into a power struggle between Mama and the people who are able to live in an imposing and well-protected tower, and the people on the outside looking in. Chapter 2 picks up the threads after a goose chase for a mysterious cache of supplies went awry for almost everyone involved, continuing relationships and forging new ones as the battle for supremacy takes another twist and turn. Oh, and there’s a hulking axeman that will start to hunt you down.

TWD Saints & Sinners Ch 2 Combat

While the tutorial gives you a very basic idea of how to physically play the game, there’s a lot that isn’t really relayed to you through it, with the game basically assuming that you’ll quickly figure out the survival horror elements of scavenging for resources and crafting. While you can pick up where you left off with an previous save file, new players will receive a stockpile of stuff to work from, along with a couple of pop-ups that you can find once you get back to the graveyard, school bus and catacombs that veteran players will recognise as home.

It can all be a bit bewildering to start, but thankfully Chapter 2 has hit one reset button for you . Just as in the original, the game plays out across multiple days, where each time you travel to an area and back using the skiffs jumps ahead in time, and each day sees the resources drop and the number of zombies increase. Day 1 and 2 will be relatively calm, but later into the game promises overwhelming hordes to try to avoid. Typically you’ll be worn out by nighttime and be told you need to go to sleep, but Chapter 2 also offers the ability to venture to areas after dark, the promise of greater rewards counterbalanced by the potential danger of more zombies being in place.

TWD Saints & Sinners Ch 2 New Orleans

While this game is also coming out for the old PSVR, Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Retribution looks quite simply excellent on PSVR 2. Just as with the original, the game has a comic-inspired art style that translates brilliantly to VR, allowing for a high-resolution solidity on PSVR 2, while still featuring plenty of detail to immerse you in the world. That solidity is only furthered by how you interact with the world. Put your hands up against a glass window or on a table and they’ll sit on surface, flattening out as you move your hands further in. It’s such a subtle effect, but one grounds you. It absolutely falls into the trap of making you feel about half your actual height, with gigantic doorways and vehicles that littering the streets that tower over you, but it’s consistent in that style, and this gives plenty of room and leeway when trying to disguise that invisible disconnect between the real and virtual worlds.

Once I had my feet beneath me in this setting, my first real mission saw me heading to a radio station guarded by the Tower’s goons, mixing together the dangers of zombies and human enemies with guns. You need to be able to combat both sides of this, and there’s a fantastic level of physicality to the combat. Zombies want to be smashed in the head, with a hatchet doing a great job, while a knife or screwdriver needs a second push. You can also grab and push zombies around, so on one occasion when a zombie’s mask was deflecting my hits, I simply grabbed them and shoved them off a ledge.

The gunplay is similarly excellent, moving to cover feels natural and the integral reloading actions are simplified as you grab ammo from a waist pouch, but with enough to it that panicking will see you flinging shotgun shells across the floor. If there’s one complaint, it’s that the audio isn’t nuanced enough with its spatial positioning, so it took me a while to figure out that enemies shouting at me were actually doing so from a floor below.

TWD Saints & Sinners Ch 2 Chainsaw

Playing with PSVR and Move controllers will have you holding a button and pointing where you want to go, but PSVR 2’s Sense controllers give you analogue sticks that increase the flexibility of your motion through the world.

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners — Chapter 2: Retribution continues on from the excellent original in so many ways that it’s practically essential to play that game first. It won’t wow quite like that first game, given just how much crossover there is in terms of gameplay, the world map and setting, and that level of familiarity will be a bit disappointing, but then that game is still among the very best VR experiences out there.

With the game releasing next week on 21st March, we’ll be continuing to venture into NOLA over the coming days, and revisit the first game’s PSVR 2 upgrade as well. Stay tuned for our full review and comparisons.

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