Friday, June 21, 2013

Review - State of Decay

For those who don’t know the premise of State of Decay is simple. You start as a survivor named Marcus up in the mountains coming back from a fishing trip with a buddy to find the world has been overrun with zombies, starting you with only a tree branch to fight the ones who greet you at the docks. From that moment on you are in the fight of your life gathering supplies, hooking up with other survivors and doing whatever you can to survive and manage to make it out of Trumbull County. After escaping the mountain you make it to a church that acts as your first home base for you to collect yourself and begin to branch out scavenging. With each home base you get to put in new facilities such as bunkhouses, infirmaries, libraries, gardens, watchtowers, workshops and others that gives you different bonus to aid you in surviving. As you get further into the game you get the chance to move your base to bigger ones, more conveniently located to supplies that allow you to build more facilities to help.

The twist with this game is even when you are not playing, time still passes within (albeit in a slower fashion) so when you fire the game back up you could have more supplies in your safe house, lower morale, more hordes walking around or even a survivor missing from your group. This feature makes it hard to stop playing as every bit of supplies you find, other survivors you recruit and goals you accomplish are all hard fought victories that you don’t want to lose out on by not playing. If you didn’t leave your survivors with enough food or medicine they will take out on their own to find some, but can run the risk of getting overwhelmed by zombies or go missing. At first I was annoyed it played like this, but then I came to see how it played into what Undead Labs was going for with State of Decay, making a pretty damn real world survival game.


As you go about your business of surviving, scavenging through houses and stores you get mission pops for various things, helping to give a good variety to keep you going. There are even some special zombies who aren't your run of the mill shambler; encountering them can turn an easy fight with some zombies into a tough one making you run for your life. With S.W.A.T. zombies protected from gunfire, feral zombies that can dodge your car and run on all fours real fast to tear you apart, screamer zombies that freeze you in pain and call in other zombies, rotter zombies that burst into a smoke that can drain your stamina and health. And don't forget the Big Un, a juggernaut style zombie that's a beast to take down.

Stamina and health those are two important things to watch out for as you explore the land looking for supplies. Stay out there for too long with the same survivor and their maximum stamina will take a hit and be decreased until they get back to your safe house and are able to rest up. Of course you can drink energy drinks or take pills to fix this as well as to regain your health when lost by zombie bites, but after awhile of surviving the pills will end. And there are no resupplies coming to the town when a building is empty, it's empty forever. This is where having the right home base comes into play.

The more advanced home bases affords you some of the better facilities, like the workshop that allows to you make meds, silencers, firebombs and such that can help out when all the buildings you could check begin to run dry. You have to be smart when deciding what to build though as if you have a lot of people in your group they all need a bed to sleep in. Otherwise, you'll have survivors who are tired and getting ragged that could cost them their lives when out in the world. That's one of the great things about State of Decay: all the choices you make affects everyone in your group and making the wrong choice can cost you a survivor’s life as they are torn apart by a horde of zombies.


The game is not without its negatives as there are a few things that will make you gripe a little while playing. Not being able to take another survivor out with you kinda sucks, as having someone to watch your back as you scavenge would've been really helpful. I found myself using one mission that had other survivors with me just to go take out other stuff so I would have help doing it. Sometimes while driving I would hit things that weren’t there, only appearing a second later when the graphics caught up, which was at times annoying. Sometimes zombies would be stuck in walls or other survivors while on missions wouldn’t move. Most of these issues are easily fixed with a patch that I believe is getting applied.

Overall, State of Decay is one fun game. Co-op would've been awesome to have with this sort of game and surely would have ramped up the difficulty. From the sounds of it though Undead Labs has a multiplayer game like State of Decay in the works called Class4 that will fill that need. State of Decay is a solid single player experience that--even with its quirks--is still freaking fun to play, as it's satisfying running down a horde of zombies and watching them splatter. It has a lot of great moments that will thrill you and moments that will freak you out as you run from a pack of zombies that are gunning to tear you apart. Even the achievements have great names and nods to movies that show the people behind this game are fans of the genre and took care to make a game to be proud of. If you haven’t picked this gem of a game up yet I highly suggest it as will give you hours of gameplay to see if you have what it takes to survive in a zombie world. There's a reason it's the second fastest selling Xbox Live Arcade game. It's a fun, but tough, game. Xbox Live Arcade has put out some quality games and State of Decay is definitely one of the best.

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