When I first heard about State of Decay I can’t say I got too excited, I was still recovering from the crushing disappointment that had been Dead Island. To say I was losing hope in the zombie game genre might have been an understatement, I think I was calling for it be shot in the head & burnt…I’m glad it wasn’t.
The more I heard about the games focus, the more excited I got. Survival? Stealth & evasion over combat? Base building & open-world? It was like a company had reached into my mind & pulled out my dream zombie game.
Once its release date was announced I had made up my mind…
We start off in control of the character Marcus who has returned from a hunting trip with his friend Ed to find the world in ruins. They are attacked by zombies & this is the very first task the player must deal with, kill these zombies.
The world is open & we are free to travel where we want, there are story based missions but the game will progress regardless of whether the focus is on surviving or story.
Build a base, get fellow survivors to join you & construct facilities such as extra beds, an infirmary & a garden. Food, ammo, medical supplies & building material will have to be scavenged from the surrounding areas. The player can do this or NPC’s can be assigned to help. Once you are friends with fellow survivors you can play as them, switching easily between characters. This is important as characters can die & when they do they stay dead (well until they turn into zombies).
Characters skills increase over time so keeping them alive is very important but each trip out for supplies brings tougher risks. Once a house has been emptied of supplies it stays empty so eventually bigger distances have to be covered.
The zombies are fairly weak but any attack makes noise & noise brings more. Keeping quiet & sneaking is the way to survive in State of Decay.
Priced at 1600 Microsoft points State of Decay might seem a bit pricey to some but is actually excellent value for money. I’ve tried my best to sum the game up above but that is just scratching at the surface of an expansive world.
There are so many ways to approach the game play & all come with risks. Sneaking around too much will take its time & before you know it, it will be dark & you are running out of food back home. Run around, kicking in every door & you will make enough noise to attract every zed within a mile of you as well as lowering your stamina & as you need that to swing your weapons you will quickly find yourself in trouble.
Even the smallest mistake can bring the undead on you quicker then you can run. I was searching some cupboards in a house; it’s a radius that fills up to show that it’s been searched. You can speed it up by holding LB but at the risk of making noise that may or may not attract zombies. I did this & brought hell down on me, I barely escaped with my characters life & left an army of undead in the house that I was trying to clear out.
Terrifying yet so exciting as well.
You will find yourself weighed down with the number of task & quests available for you to do. A balancing act is required as some missions will disappear after a while; these missions may cost you morale in your home camp. This can lead to people leaving, committing suicide & stealing.
When characters have issues at home it results in a mission that can be dealt with & fixed temporarily or left to the behest of the group. Sadly these missions become incredibly repetitive after a while with the onus being on going out & killing some zeds with the angry/depressed character. They are cut & copy quest with even the dialogue repeating itself over & over again.
This is one of State of Decay’s problems….
The frame-rate can dip in quality so suddenly & zombies, characters & houses just pop into existence right under your nose. The handling of cars is horrible; they feel as if they are on ice. The dialogue is repetitive & hearing the same ‘I bought a pony but it tried to eat me so I shot it in the head’ joke is annoying. The AI makes some annoying & baffling decisions at times resulting in you having to go & rescue them.
These problems irritate & frustrate resulting in a lesser experience when they pop up which isn’t that often fortunately. Happily though a patch is due that fixes some of the problems people have experienced so it is just going to get better.
State of Decay