The Walking Dead has become somewhat of a phenomenon in pop culture. It’s spawned everything from spin-off shows to a successful game series within the Tell-Tale Games world as well. Earlier this year, The Walking Dead: Sinners and Saints was released to give life to the comics in a way that was both incredibly gratifying and pretty horrifying as well. The big one though is The Walking Dead: Onslaught, which rips characters right out of the show and throws them into your headset, complete with voice acting and everything. So, is this the next big VR game? Or is there something left to be desired.
As we begin the game, we’re thrust into a tutorial mode that’s thankfully a lot more enjoyable than most tutorials. You’re shown how to kill zombies in a variety of ways, and right of the bat you can tell this is going to be a brutal and bloody experience. In order to take out the walking dead, you have a few options. You can down them with a couple of headshots, though ammo is scarce at times and it isn’t always the best course of option. Your other option comes in the way of using a knife or various other weapons you can find. With the knife, you need to grab the zombie by the neck to make sure you’re stabbing is accurate. It’s a disturbing and powerful feeling to execute this maneuver, but it feels right within the world it takes place in and the haptic feedback is well done and feels impactful. The various guns you’ll get a hold of throughout your journey are well done as well and the aiming is fantastically responsive and the reload feature is clever as well without being too elaborate. You’ll get a variety of other weapons throughout the experience too including some iconic ones like Michonne’s sword and Daryl’s crossbow. Speaking of which…
The Walking Dead: Onslaught is completely canon within the show! It takes place after the finale of season 8 and before season 9. To go along with this, we get a host of actors from the show reprising their roles, with both Daryl and Michonne checking in with you from time to time with both Norman Reedus reprising his role. You will also unlock additional characters the more you play. You start off playing as Rick Grimes, but unfortunately Andrew Lincoln does not reprise his role here and the imitation is….off to say the least. But they did what they could to recreate the iconic character, so it’s something you’ll have to deal with if you’re a hardcore fan of the show.
The gameplay is made up of a few different segments. You have your time in the base of Alexandria where you are tasked to build up various structures which each have their respective benefits, you have your scavenger missions where you have a limited amount of time in various locales to collect as much as you can before a horde engulfs you and you have your story and campfire missions where Daryl fills you in on what’s been going on in special gameplay segments. For my preference, the story-based segments were by far the best and at times felt like an advanced version of Arizona Sunshine. These moments are narrated usually and add a sense of plot and gravitas to the proceedings that elevate them beyond what boils down to a game about survival. The scavenger missions are less fun, but more necessary as you will be scavenging for supplies that you’ll actually need. You also will need these missions to discover the different weapons as well and if you happen to miss that heavy pistol during one of your runs, guess what? You’re not getting it until you go back and physically pick it up.
The gimmick in the scavenger mode is you constantly have the Walker horde closing in on you, making you need to calculate your moves quickly and precisely. Do you go into that house that’s stocked with supplies but also filled with Walkers? Or do you get the bare minimum just to survive? The horde is depicted as a crowd of black shadows amongst a red mist, though you never actually physically encounter the horde which is disappointing and feels like a cheap move and much less established studio than Survios (Raw Data, Sprint Vector) would give us. Nonetheless, these affairs and tense and adrenaline pumping and a nice little diversion from the main story. The campfire missions are particularly engaging as they give you some unique scenarios to play through that feel like they are ripped right out of The Walking Dead and introduce new enemies and some scenarios that are downright terrifying to play through.
The physics system at play here is purely combat based. This means that you won’t physically be picking up items, rather just pressing a button on the controller to pick them up without any real weighted interaction. The combat physics though are outstanding and bloody as can be with limbs being lopped off, axes sickeningly thudding into Walker’s heads, and the ability to shove or punch enemies as well being thrown in for good measure.
Graphically speaking, things are a mixed bag. Zombies have never looked better and the effects for taking them down are pretty gruesome, but the characters themselves looked to have walked out of a late PS2 title and seem to be a large downgrade from the Survios’s prior offerings where visuals were a strong point. You’re going to be spending most of your time with the undead though, so the underwhelming visuals of your favorite characters shouldn’t be too tough to overcome. If you were dreaming of having real-life arguments with Daryl about the state of the camp though, this won’t really do much to make that come true.
So, is the experience on par or better than The Walking Dead: Sinners and Saints? That’s a tough one. The combat is less challenging but more aesthetically gratifying, but the physics behind it are not as good as The Walking Dead: Sinners and Saints. The choices you make in that game also are far more impactful to the game world than the ones you make here and it feels far more like a fleshed-out RPG while The Walking Dead: Onslaught feels more like an action romp than a sim. While both share similar modes like supply runs, The Walking Dead: Sinners and Saints actually had that horrifying zombie horde come after you when the time ran out and there is nothing in The Walking Dead: Onslaught that compares to that feeling. Overall, the deeper experience is found in its predecessor, but zombie-killing has never looked as good or felt as accessible and downright nasty as it feels here.
Nobody named Carl in the immediate vicinity. Seriously though, you’re going to be aiming and stabbing and grabbing in every direction at certain points during this game, so have a wide area available to play in to get the most out of the experience.
I recorded my 30-minute workout using a Fitbit and played with a Samsung Odyssey Plus Windows Mixed Reality Headset.
Calories burned: 111
Calories burned per minute: 3.7
Average Heart Rate: 98
Max Heart Rate: 101
Active Minutes: 27
The workout recorded isn’t the most accurate take on how physically intense this experience can be. While there are plenty of moments of downtime when at the home base in Alexandria, when you venture out into the Walker infested zones, you’re going to get your money’s worth workout wise. You’ll be grabbing and stabbing so frequently that you’ll have a whole new respect for the zombie killers in the show. I strongly recommend you stretch before this one, it’s going to be a hell of a ride.
The arm workout in the Walking Dead: Onslaught is nothing short of phenomenal. You’re asked to choose in a menu which hand you’d like to use your weapon in, which is disappointing as you can’t switch on the fly. But trust me after a while you’re going to want to switch arms because the act of grabbing and stabbing virtual Walkers is much more physically exhausting than you can imagine. Your physical ability will be reflected as well with your actual force being accounted for when stabbing or shoving. That means just tapping a Walker in the face hit a bat isn’t going to do much. If you want the desired result, you’re going to have to go full Negan on them.
How does anyone get any leg workouts in the Walking Dead? Maybe they run, or maybe they just make sure to dodge various Walker swipes. Here we’re going to be doing the latter and it’s pretty effective. Walkers tend to do damage quickly and efficiently if you fail to grab them and the only way to ensure you’re not getting zombie smacked is to physically duck yourself. Considering the overwhelming amount of Walkers you’ll be facing off against, this means those legs are going to be doing quite the dance throughout your time with the game.
Core and Balance- 7/10
There isn’t any direct ab exercise going on in this game, but between all the swinging and shooting and reloading and stabbing and grabbing, you’re going to feel this everywhere on your body after a lengthy play session with some missions being more stressful than others. Depending on your resources, you might be stabbing your way through 30+ Walkers at any given time and the torque this puts on your body to get an effective attack out over and over will most certainly give you a decent core workout. Your balance will also be key here as it’s easy to lose your place when fighting off the undead so make sure you’re not facing a TV or anything breakable when playing.
Time Perception- 9/10
This is among the more intensive games physically speaking in VR, and whether you’re mowing down zombies with guns or taking them on up close and personal with a myriad of weapons available, time doesn’t particularly register. Between the solid voice acting and engrossing mission structure, I found it very easy to hours to the Walking Dead: Onslaught and it keeps giving you reasons to stay just a little bit longer in its twisted world.
If you like killing zombies, then this should be an easy one to come back to time and time again. The scavenger missions are repeatable and have multiple difficulty settings that grant different rewards, so you could feasibly get an unlimited amount of zombie killing in if you’re really into the combat offering here.
Fitness Scalability- 9/10
The fitness scalability in The Walking Dead: Onslaught is all up to you. What I mean by this is if you want a more intense workout, it’s on you to forgo the various guns in the game and go all melee. This is thankfully doable in plenty of situations and is honestly the more fun way to play the game. Save your guns for the times you really need them and do the dirty work up close and personal. The difficulty modes on the scavenger missions also allow some fitness scaling, as well as having the Walkers be tougher to kill and the whole mission will be more urgent as well. As always using weighted gloves can definitely help the workout experience, though here it’s not really needed as the weapons have a simulated weight to them that works well.
Dizziness/ Lack of Nausea- 10/10
I didn’t feel one bit of dizziness or nausea during my time with the game and it felt pretty seamless throughout. There are multiple modes of movement available including smooth, teleport, and also natural locomotion where you swing your arms to move which gives even more of a workout. The speed of the game is never too fast and there weren’t any graphical lags that caused uneasiness either. Your only source of sickness while playing should be from the undead attempting to gnaw your face off and that’s how it should be.
Social Competition- 0/10
There was initially going to be co-op in The Walking Dead: Onslaught, but it was scrapped late in development for not being fun enough. I guess we will take Survios’s word for it, but it still is hard to not think how much fun a game like this can be with a friend. We already have seen how great Raw Data and Arizona Sunshine are with friends and this would’ve fit right in. As is for though, this is strictly a single-player experience.
VR Fit Score- 8.2/10
There is a ton of fitness potential in The Walking Dead: Onslaught.
Game Score- 8.5/10
The Walking Dead: Onslaught is a violent and physically intense romp through the world of the Walking Dead. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll find plenty to love here as you have most of the cast of the show voicing the characters and there are plenty of iconic weapons to fight with as well. The combat physics are on point and if you can stomach grabbing Walkers by the neck and stabbing them up close, you’ll greatly enjoy the experience. The gunplay is spot on as well and each gun handles differently giving you a nice sense of progression and some tough choices to make when it comes to choosing a loadout for the field. The story has a nice place within the show’s lore as well and feels like another smaller season of The Walking Dead.
In terms of a deep survival experience, you’re not going to get that here. The action is less about realism and more about fun and action. The deeper experience lies in The Walking Dead: Sinners and Saints, but not everybody wants something with that level of depth to it. If you don’t like killing in VR, this is certainly not for you. The graphics leave a bit to be desired considering it’s 2020. The lack of a zombie horde that actually engulfs you in the scavenger missions is disappointing.