The Walking Dead Onslaught is a VR game that takes place in the world of AMC’s hit show, The Walking Dead. Players can choose to play as one of five characters and embark on an adventure with different objectives and gameplay styles.
The Walking Dead Onslaught is this year’s second Walking Dead franchise game for VR, following the release of the The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners (2020) in January. Unlike its scrappy RPG-style older sibling, Onslaught does away with dark and gloomy trepidation of entering a room halfcocked, instead replacing it with a constant pressure to run, gun, and scrounge your way through levels to an oftentimes ineffectual conclusion.
Details about The Walking Dead’s Onslaught:
Survios Reviewed on: Oculus Quest (via Link),
Oculus Rift Available on: Oculus PC, SteamVR, PSVR
Release Date: September 29th, 2020
After the third season, I stopped watching AMC’s The Walking Dead, which, for me, was when the show ceased being about surviving zombies and instead became a zombie in its own right. It plodded along in a manner that made me wonder where the heck this was all headed.
Whatever your degree of fandom, there are just a few things you need to know to succeed in The Walking Dead Onslaught: explore every building carefully for supplies, have a balanced loadout with at least one edged weapon, and be sure to aim the shooty portion of the pistol towards the zombie’s head. And then flee.
You won’t need to know where you’re going or what to do, and there won’t be any riddles to solve along the way. Until the credits roll, just aim down the sights, fire, reload, and escape from the continuously advancing red fog of zombies behind you. The red fog functions similarly to a battle royale zone, draining your health if it catches up to you, providing you with all the incentive you’ll need to get to the finish line.
There are no stamina, thirst, or hunger bars to worry about here (which isn’t a bad thing), so it’s all about moving quickly through each level’s one-way snake-like path—but not so quickly that you miss the inexplicably massive amounts of food, wood, metal scraps, adhesives, and other items that either help you upgrade weapons or unlock the next bit of story.
The game is split into two sections: Daryl, who is played by Norman Reedus again, has a tale to tell about attempting to rescue a little girl. To reach the end of Daryl’s narrative arc, you must complete a half-dozen levels as him. It took me around three hours to go through Daryl’s section alone, but you aren’t given the freedom to go through each chapter at your leisure.
You need to lure survivors to your encampment for some reason, which you accomplish by scavenging for food throughout a map that unlocks new zones in a sequential order when you fulfill a survivor number criteria. This essentially binds you to completing scavenging tasks in order to unlock Daryl’s narrative, which then sends you back to doing scavenging missions. Rinse and repeat as needed.
It all seemed a little like the game was slapping on a pointless feature to pad out the duration of the game. You’re compelled to do these tasks, which have no purpose other than to collect things, and then improve your weaponry, health, and supply retrieving abilities for your own benefit.
Daryl’s tale was intriguing, and it served as a welcome diversion from the grind, but I found myself mindlessly repeating the same scavenging levels over and again in order to get enough supplies to advance to the next chapter. These tasks soon became more of a nuisance than a genuine opportunity to interact with the game.
That’s not to say that shooting a swarm of walkers (all of whom move slowly until they’re within striking distance) and seeing the toughest undead fall isn’t entertaining. During scavenging missions, the relentless pressure of an encircling zombie horde keeps you on your toes, never allowing you enough time to explore the byways for anything. It’s a lot of fun stabbing, chopping, blasting, and moving the physics-based enemies about.
I also enjoyed that each level of the game, including narrative and scavenging missions, can be played on low, medium, or high difficulty levels, but the quantity of things you discover diminishes as the difficulty increases. Onslaught accomplishes these goals well, but I believe it would benefit from a bigger, more interesting narrative and much less supply grinding.
In terms of the game’s adversaries, the sluggish walking zombies in Onslaught don’t have a lot of functional variety. Later through the game, you’ll encounter armored zombies dressed in riot gear or wearing spikes that add to the area’s lethality, but the level is primarily filled with civilian walkers who can be killed with a single knife plunge to the head. If you have enough ammunition and aim for the head, all of the bullet sponges will ultimately lurch their final step.
Overall, Daryl’s narrative and the scavenging tasks took me around seven hours to finish. You can always go back in after the credits roll and improve every weapon, melee and gun alike, but I didn’t see the point because I’d be replaying all of the same missions with the only real difference being where critical things are placed.
Onslaught not only misses the target by being too simple and grindy, but it also misses the mark in the Immersion portion by being much too predictable.
The majority of level design revolves on a one-way trudge through a destroyed town, which all begins to feel the same after about an hour. It’s a pity, since the levels’ aesthetic diversity is really very impressive. Although you won’t pause to smell the roses, it’s obvious that a lot of effort went into making each level seem distinct in its destruction by the zombie apocalypse.
Unfortunately, there is no object interaction since your dominant hand is bound to your weapon until you change it. Instead than really lifting things up, force grab is employed. Those aren’t terrible things in and of themselves, but the removal of the ability to touch anything in your hands limits user immersion.
Considering Norman Reedus was the sole original performer in the game, both character design and voice performance are very impressive. When characters talk, which only occurs when you’re back at base, there’s a little of an uncanny valley effect, but you don’t see another human being very frequently in the majority of the game, so it’s largely a non-issue. The designs are very well-crafted, despite the fact that zombies are practically identical, with the only difference being their armor level.
The innovative usage of positional audio by Onslaught is also noteworthy. Keep an ear out for the foggy horde closing in behind you, free-roaming zombies lurking about the level, and important supply caches that sound like a faint radio fizzle as you get close to them.
The game’s UI also remains out of the way, which is a great addition that allows you to interact with the zombies more smoothly. You may also turn the UI entirely off in the settings, but you might not notice it since it hides in the top and bottom registers of the screen most of the time.
Survios, the game’s creators, are seasoned veterans when it comes to VR comfort design. Teleport, snap turn, smooth turning, head or hand-relative forward motion, and even the arm-swinging technique seen in Creed: Rise to Glory (2018) and Sprint Vector are among the locomotion choices available (2017).
All of this, coupled with a well-researched use of particle effects to keep you grounded as you go, gives you a broad range of choices to choose from, depending on your degree of comfort.
Through an automated calibration procedure, you may play both sitting and standing. There’s also an in-game recalibration option if you need to go between standing and sitting for any reason.
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