On January 23rd, 2020, Skydance Interactive and Skybound Entertainment are hoping to drop a proverbial bomb on the VR gaming industry. The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners will arrive, and with it, quite possibly a new era of higher-end VR productions. In addition to the official release date, a good chunk of new information about the game was revealed on the Official Website, as well as the Steam page . Oculus even had a blog post about the title's impending launch early next year for Rift and Rift S audiences.
One thing that's readily apparent about this project, is that both Skybound and Skydance are pulling out all the stops to make sure this game has a major impact on the VR gaming landscape. This isn't a "VR experience", or a quick promotional cash-in trying to take advantage of a supremely popular franchise. This is a full blown, major adventure game, with in-your face visceral action. We're talking about a 15 hour single-player campaign that sees you scavenging and struggling for survival, with New Orleans as the backdrop for all the chaos about to unfurl.
One odd aspect about the arrival of this game in January, is that it will actually be beaten to the punch by another VR based Walking Dead game. Survious, makers of Raw Data, Sprint Vector and Creed: Rise to Glory have The Walking Dead:Onslaught scheduled to arrive sometime this 4th Quarter. I imagine that Survios is quite pleased they're going to get the jump on Saints & Sinners, because they might need that jump. From what I've seen so far, Saints appears to be a bigger endeavor, with more lavish production and polish. Not that Survios is a slouch by any measure. Onslaught is likely to provide plenty of intense, arcade-like action this 4th Quarter, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that Saints & Sinners looks like it's on a slightly higher level.
The Walking Dead: Onslaught by Survios is expected this 4th Qrt 2019
One thing we must remember about Skydance Interactive, this isn't their first VR rodeo. Their first big-time VR production was Archangel, which arrived on July 18th 2017 for PlayStation VR. It's likely Saints and Sinners was in development even before the release of Archangel, so you can imagine how much effort has been poured into bringing this Walking Dead experience to VR. They've spent years crafting this title, planning for it, and it seems like all that hard work has really paid off handsomely.
Skybound Entertainment has released a cinematic trailer for the game, that does a very effective job of setting the scene, and giving you the vibe for how the game is likely to feel as you play it...
One of the biggest differences that Saints and Sinners is likely to have over other Walking Dead VR games, or even other VR zombie games in general, is how well fleshed out the "world" of the game is. This is where Skydance really shines. The production value in Archangel was one of it's most redeeming qualities. Gamers may have complained about the on-rails action of Archangel, but they raved about the polish and details. The voice acting, while over the top, was absolutely superb. It was a movie-like experience, a real treat if you could get past the on-rails aspect. The hope is, that all of these great production values filter their way into Saints & Sinners. We fully expect that to be the case.
Another interesting aspect of this title is the idea of dealing with various factions. "The Tower" and "The Reclaimed" are two Waring factions fighting for human control over the New Orleans area. You'll have to deal with these groups very carefully. You'll either join one group or the other, or perhaps go "lone-wolf", while trying to pit the two sides against each other. Pretend to be friendly to both, while remaining true to the only person you can really trust.... Yourself. All the while, you'll be dealing with hordes of the undead, and just hoping to survive long enough to claim some semblance of a future in this bleak wasteland of an existence.
Another huge aspect of the game is the Scavenging and Crafting systems. As you move your way through the nine neighborhoods of New Orleans, you'll want to explore every nook and cranny for weapons and supplies. You'll be able to use the raw materials you collect, to fashion more effective weapons. Better med-kits. Better ammo. Tools you'll need for survival in this brutal open world.
Along the way, you'll meet various characters that you can help or hinder your progress. You can pair up for greater protection, but can you really trust them? Maybe you should be the ruthless type, and look for the first opportunity to turn on them and stab them in the back... literally! If you think about it, the Saints and Sinners subtitle is very appropriate given the choices you'll be making along the way. You'll be deciding on the fly if you're going to be a ray of hope in this bleak existence, or maybe even more terrifying than any other human or beast you encounter. The choice is up to you. This is exactly what Skydance and Skybound were going for when they first embarked on this huge project.
I can tell you this, everything we've seen so far leads us to believe that this could be one of the most exciting upcoming VR games of the near future. I'm talking up there with other huge games like Asgard's Wrath and Stormland. It's exciting to know that VR's second wave of mega-hits is just around the corner!
[The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners by Skydance Interactive will be available on Janjuary 23rd on the Oculus Store and Steam for PC-VR platforms]