State of Decay Review
State of Decay. Where do I begin?
It’s a game I have been wanting to play for so long, yet nothing has come close to it. So you can imagine my excitement when a small company named Undead Labs decided to make such a game. I remember when State of Decay was only referred to as Class 3, and I still can’t believe that I actually have this game sitting on my hard-drive ready to start up when I ever want to smash some zombie brains in. Oh, and build a community of survivors and live out a zombie apocalypse.
It’s worth noting that this is an Xbox Live Arcade title. One can only imagine how much better it would have been if it was a full game. That fact alone speaks wonders about what a terrific job Undead Labs have done in getting a game of this nature into a 1.81gb download!
The game opens with you, Marcus, returning home from a fishing trip to find that shit has hit the fan. Immediately you are thrown into the action as you defend yourselves from several of the undead who are trying to make you and your companion their next tasty meal. You quickly overcome the threat and discover a small group of survivors up at the Ranger Station where you set about offering a helping hand. In the surrounding camp sites you must search for loot while clearing the area of the zeds. Before long, it is night, and after setting out to see what that gunfire in the distance is, you come back to discover your guys at the Ranger Station have been overrun, and you guessed it, dead.
Despite not knowing these guys for very long or even really knowing their names, I felt kinda bad for leaving them defenseless. Of course they were also supposed to die to progress the story, but I felt apart of their death. Imagine the attachment involved when this happens out in the world later on to your fellow survivors? It’s not hard to get lost in State of Decay and forget that the real world exists. It draws you in, and to my surprise I found myself taking the game incredibly seriously. I thought about every decision I had to make carefully, as if it was really me who had to make that call. And I love that!
After this encounter, you will try to escape with your new companions. Thankfully, their is a truck nearby which gave me my first taste of driving in State of Decay. At first, it was very tedious trying to steer. Unfortunately, there is no option to change the controller sensitivity as the steering controls can feel too heavy, and too sensitive at times. However the more you drive, the easier it becomes. Crashing my first few cars was frustrating, but then I realized I actually like how they have done it.
It made the game feel more realistic. I know, realism in a zombie game. But State of Decay makes it as realistic as you would expect a zombie apocalypse to be. You play as average people, and average people aren’t going to be professional racing car drivers right? So why should you expect to be able to drive like one if you couldn’t before? The same with shooting. It is very hard to master, especially since ammo is a valuable resource. But the fact that I found it difficult made me love the game so much more. As I stated above, my average guy isn’t a soldier, so he isn’t going to shoot like one. The more I shot and got used to the controller sensitivity, the easier it became. I was using less ammo and taking down zombies quicker and quicker. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but even if it wasn’t, it’s brilliant. Some people may find it annoying and a fault of the game. I see it as pure genius!
Never before have I wanted to write so much about something so small!
Speaking of realism, your character isn’t superhuman. He gets tired and puffed out like all of us. If your swinging a sledgehammer a few times, your going to get tired. If your sprinting through town, after a short period you are going to become tired and no longer able to keep up that speed. And that is exactly what it is like in State of Decay. Gone are the days you can take on a whole horde of zombies by yourself. Tactics are going to be needed to see that you make it back to base, alive. The animations involved in this also make it that bit sweeter. You will see your character lean over trying to catch his breath, or stumbling as you frantically try to escape the zeds who are trying to eat you. If your careful and learn quickly, you will stop taking on more than you can chew, as well as bringing some snacks and aspirin along with you. Chances are, you will be needing them!
The one thing which really got me excited about State of Decay was the base building aspect, as well as building up your group of survivors. Throughout the map, you will come across potential home bases where you can move your group to. The bigger the base, the more facilities you can have, thus making your life easier. It’s not easy choosing between having a Garden or a Workshop as I found out! So I eventually found a base where I didn’t need to choose. Your survivors will go about their daily lives, you will see them taking turns to guard the perimeter, eating food, receiving medical treatment or just sleeping. Your base comes alive, and it is very satisfying to take a moment out just to wander around and see what you have accomplished so far. There is a real sense of achievement and progress. You will need 5 Basic resources in order to sustain and improve your community. These can be found all throughout the world, however once you have taken them, they are gone. Items do not respawn back into State of Decay meaning being resourceful is the aim of the game.
If you don’t clear out local infestations or gathering hordes, you will quickly see your base being the target of the undead. I can’t tell you how much fun this is trying to defend your base. It never get’s old. However you need to be careful as you have limited resources to use to fend of the undead. And if you don’t watch your influence, you won’t be able to take out anymore ammo from the supply locker to help defend your base.
I had moved my base into the main town in the hope of getting more action and having more attacks on my base. I wanted to see what it was like having hundreds of zeds trying to overrun my base. Within moments of it turning night, I regretted that choice. Me and my survivors spent the whole night keeping them at bay. I can’t imagine how much ammo I went through, and influence. And thanks to their being no Load option, I was forced to suffer the consequences and try to rebuild. I quickly scavenged for enough resources and ammo so we could move back to our old base.
That is why I love this game so much. In other games, I may have been tempted to just load up a previous save so I didn’t lose all that ammo and influence points. But if I had the option to do so, I would have missed out on the fun and challenge of trying to recover from such a mistake.
There is always something to do in State of Decay, day or night. Whether that is scavenging for supplies, trying to obtain better weaponry or following the story lines, you will be kept on your toes. But it is also the little things which makes State of Decay so engaging and brilliant. You are able to perform emotes by pulling down the right trigger. This will bring up the option to Cheer, Taunt, Agree or Disagree. I had a lot of fun going out to the middle of nowhere and pretending my character had lost the plot by shouting insults at the undead. Before long, I was made to run back to base in order to stay alive. If you want some action at your base, head to the guard tower and shout taunts. Those zombies will soon come looking to investigate that foul language!
However, as with any game, there are some issues with State of Decay. The most noticeable one will be the FPS drops and quick screen freezing when driving. Most of the time it isn’t an issue, but it has a habit of turning up when you are about to swing around a corner, which often results into you crashing into a fence or something due to your screen freezing for what must be 0.5 seconds. Noticeable enough, but doesn’t take away from the enjoyment.
Sometimes you will find zombies gliding through a door. It is nothing like that seen in the DayZ mod and often happens when the door is actually open. It’s even possible for you to do the same! Zombies sometimes fall under the floor or manage to get themselves in impossible locations, but it doesn’t ruin gameplay. However survivors have a habit of wandering on missions of their own, and often need you to come and bail them out. Even if a survivor is suffering from severe blood loss and needs to rest after you saved them not long ago, don’t be surprised to see them in need of rescue again. A minor issue, but can get annoying at times. Not everyone has common sense though right?
And some people may find the shooting mechanics and driving to be below standard for a game which involves lots of shooting and driving, but like I mentioned above I see it as a positive rather than a negative. Still, not everyone will agree, but that is how I look at it.
State of Decay is my favourite game of 2013 so far by a long long way. For me, it is the best Xbox Arcade title out there. I would even go as far as to say it has the potential to be one of the best games of 2013. Undead Labs have done an amazing job with State of Decay. I still can’t get my head around the fact that it’s an Arcade Title. I would easily pay double for State of Decay. 1600 MS is an absolute steal.
The persistent world feature which worried some people hasn’t been an issue for me. I was skeptical about it, but after seeing it in action, I really like the idea. Although I’m sure the fact that I have been playing it non-stop has prevented me from seeing how it works when away from long periods, but I am confident it doesn’t ruin the game in any way.
If you have always wanted to play a true zombie survival game where every day is a challenge to survive, you MUST buy State of Decay. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea with regards to the clunkiness and zombies, but there is nothing else remotely similar. I have spent the last two days playing State of Decay constantly, and I am still not bored. I’m guessing I am nowhere near completing the story either!
I wanted to write so much more about my experiences with State of Decay, but I could be here forever otherwise. If you want to know more about what features are in State of Decay and what you can do, I suggest checking out my Preview where I do just that.