The Walking Dead franchise has spanned comics, TV, games, and soon, movies. Most of the output has been great, with the few dead weights being in the gaming category. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct still hurts to this day. Damn you, Activision. Damn you.
The Walking Dead: Onslaught is, thankfully, not a dud. It’s amazing! And honestly, did we really expect anything other than great from Survios, one of the best VR game makers around?
Onslaught is a VR game only, and that means you’ll need a PSVR headset. You’ll also need two PS Move wand controllers as there’s no support for DualShock 4 or the PSVR Aim controller. It makes sense because you use your hands heavily in this game. From digging knives into heads to smashing arms and legs off with Michonne’s sword, and, of course, using the arsenal of guns the game offers to you. So, make sure you’ve got a couple of PS Move controllers charged and ready to go.
The Walking Dead: Onslaught has the distinction of being officially canon with the long-running TV series. However, the story doesn’t quite hit the standards set by the TV show. Still, it’s better than being stuck on the farm for Season 2… It hits hard and fast, constantly keeping you moving through its linear levels littered with the undead, with a few breakout moments in between.
The story is broken up into chapters, and it’s all Daryl’s story and it’s told via flashbacks. I wasn’t sure about this at first, but I actually came to quite like it. Rick and Daryl talk to each other in the present while you’re playing in the past, and at times it fits quite nicely with the fire-side dialogue complimenting what you’re doing as Daryl.
It’s a decent story of Daryl being Daryl, and by that I mean he’s obviously trying to save somebody, and in this case, it’s a young girl. He might be a brash redneck, but he’s the sweetest and most kindly one around, and stepping into his boots for a short while was good fun.
Aside from, but connected to the story, is the Scavenger section of the game. You have your main “hub” which is the survivor town Alexandria, and from here you’ve got options. You can talk to an injured Daryl to start his story chapters, but they are locked behind progression in Alexandria. You need to unlock the chapters by building up your town and getting new survivors to join you. You do this by going over to the board where Michonne is always stood with her clipboard at the ready. On the board is a map, and on the map are locations that you can visit to do supply runs. This is a game mode all by itself, but it’s still connected to the progression of Daryl’s story. You pick who you want to play as, either Rick, Michonne, or Carol, and then you head out and do Scavenger missions to find food, medicine, new weapons, ammo, and other crafting items needed to upgrade your town and your weapons. From the job board back in Alexandria, you’ll also find item requests from other survivors, and you’ll find them by exploring the Scavenger locations.
Upgrading Alexandria has its perks, too, although it does feel a little tacked on. You’re basically getting buffs and extra resources by expanding Alexandria’s buildings. It’s a neat little part of the game, but it’s in no way a major component, but like everything else in Onslaught, it compliments the rest of the game, and gives you one more reason to go on Scavenger missions.
Scavenger missions are by far my favourite part of the game. The story is fine and it’s cool to get more The Walking Dead and actually be a part of the story, but Scavenger missions are where you can go for some instant gratification. They’re also necessary to find new weapons.
Scavenger missions are broken into different mission types. One tasks you with getting from one point to another while looting whatever you can, all the while with the horde snapping at your heels. The horde is represented by a big red mist and silhouettes of walkers. It doesn’t look all that frightening to be honest, but knowing that they are always just a little while behind me did get my heart racing a few times. You can explore buildings, but you have to be mindful of the encroaching horde. Get too caught up in your looting and you may find yourself overrun. As the horde gets closer, more walkers spawn in and you can quickly get cornered if you’re not careful. I had this happen a couple of times, and each time I imagined it was my exit from the show, so I went out in as much style as I could muster before the run ended and I was back in Alexandria.
Another Scavenger mission type has you doing the same as before, but in the end, you need to hold off the walkers for a set amount of time while Eugene brings the van to pick you up. This is my favourite-favourite part of the game – and not just because Eugene’s dialogue is 100% on-point – but it did make me wish the game had co-op so I’d have my colleague Jez backing me up when the going gets tough. Alas, it’s not to be, and that’s a great shame as Scavenger mode would definitely be more fun with a mate. I still enjoyed it for what it was though, but my screams were heard by nobody, and that’s a pity.
I must admit that I was a little apprehensive about using the PS Move controllers for physical combat and gunplay, but I needn’t have worried. It works great and again, Survios has shown why it’s one of the top developers in the VR space. I did have the occasional tracking wobble when I went to reach down to get ammo to reload my gun, but it’s negligible. Occasionally, the game would display a red outline of my hand, presumably because it couldn’t track the glowing orbs properly. It was annoying but hardly a game-breaker, and with a little fiddling of my set up, I did manage to reduce it.
Gunplay is great and it’s encouraged just as much as melee combat is. Levels are littered with plenty of ammo, much more than you’d think, so there’s little risk of running low on bullets. At least that’s the case on the normal difficulty. Ramp it up a touch and you’ll find less ammo and health, meaning you’ll have to get creative with your killing. There are a load of guns to find and upgrade, too. I’m nowhere near getting the full upgrades for every weapon, and I reckon I’ve got a couple more weeks of nightly playing before I get there.
Physical combat is satisfying, too, and Survios has taken what it has learned from previous games and applied it here, and that includes a decent control scheme.
The game has a few options when it comes to how you move around in the surely-stinking world of The Walking Dead: Onslaught, including free movement and teleportation. I tried them all and stuck with free movement. And, again, to the developer’s credit, the controls are great, even with the sub-par Move wands. The left Move button moves you forward, while double-tapping it will get you running. Strafing is mapped to the face buttons on the left controller, while turning left and right is mapped to the other. It did take me a little while to get hang of it, but once my brain was comfortable with the setup, it was second nature. Still, I’m hoping this one comes to the Oculus Quest at some point, because I’ve been spoiled by those beautiful movement sticks and wire-free play.
Melee combat has a great physicality to it, and it’s helped by the game’s responsive controls. You can grab walkers by the throat if they try to come in for a little cuddle. From here, you can either stab them in the head or pop a few rounds into their face. I often chose the latter, but early on in the game I did enjoy replicating scenes from the show; I’d run from one walker to the next, grabbing and stabbing them in quick succession. I even ate a tin of cat food afterwards to really get into the spirit of things.
On the graphics side, it’s a decent effort, and on PS4 Pro at least, the game looks good. It’s not mind-blowing, and it’s not quite hitting the same highs as Blood & Truth, but it’s a decent looking game all the same. It performs admirably, too, with no stutter or slow down, just a smooth walker killing experience.
There’s a lot to like about The Walking Dead: Onslaught, and very little to complain about. My only gripes with the game are that it doesn’t have co-op and Andrew Lincoln doesn’t voice Rick Grimes, instead, it’s a poor soundalike, but I can and I do, improvise my own Rick dialogue by running through missions shouting “CORAL” and, on occasion, I will hold a walker by the throat, bring them in nice and close, give them a little kiss, and tell them “this isn’t a democracy anymore.”
Other than that, it’s easily one of the PSVR games available, and without question one of the best The Walking Dead games, too, if not the best. I’ve not finished Saints & Sinners yet, but I’m leaning towards Onslaught for the sheer fun factor and the fact it puts me inside one of my favourite shows alongside my favourite characters.
The Walking Dead Onslaught PSVR Review
Overall - Must Play - 9/10
The Walking Dead: Onslaught is an easy game to recommend. The gameplay is solid and very, very fun, even if it’s a little gross at times. The story isn’t the highlight, and it does fall into some traps of repetition and tropes, but The Walking Dead fans will be happy to take a step into the miserable world with Daryl as their avatar.
The real highlight is in Scavenger missions and all the walker bashing it brings. It’s a shame there’s no co-op, and not all of the original cast voice their characters, but there’s really not much to complain about.
- Excellent gameplay helped by a decent control scheme
- The voice actors who did turn up have done a great job, and it really feels like you’re playing a part in an extended episode from the show
- VR immersion is great with minimal issues
- Melee combat is brutal and, at times, terrifying when you’re down to nothing more than your knife
- Scavenger missions take the crown with lots of replayability and instant action
- No co-op!
- The voice actor for Rick Grimes is awful
- Buiding up the town of Alexandria feels tacked on and doesn’t reach its potential
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.