State of Decay
- Street Date:
- June 5th, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Mike Flacy
- Review Date:1
- June 9th, 2013
- Game Release Year:
- Xbox 360
- Undead Labs
- Microsoft Games Studio
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
Developed by the folks at Undead Labs and published by Microsoft, 'State of Decay' is a survival horror game that focuses on strategy and RPG elements just as much as zombie-killing action. Set in an open world environment, players explore a rural area of the country called Trumbull Valley and work together with other survivors to outlast the zombie hordes all around them. The narrative isn't particularly original when compared to the huge amount of zombie games released in the past few years, but it pushes the story along at a solid pace.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Interestingly, the game starts with an emphasis on action and gradually starts to introduce more RPG elements as you continue to play. Similar to a game like 'Morrowind', player skills are built up be performing actions related to those skills. If you want to become a better fighter and increase health, start bashing in some zombie heads. If you want more stamina, start sprinting everywhere. As skills increase, it's much more likely that the character will survive. Different characters build up different skills and players can take control of another character in their group at any given time.
Once you reach the church in the game, State of Decay transitions from a basic survival game to something much more. You have to start managing an entire community and make decisions on structures to build in the area to improve the chances of survival. If you are bringing in new survivors, they will need beds to sleep on. If you want to repair or build items, you will need to install a workshop. If you want to keep zombies away from the base, set up a couple survivors in sniper towers. You can also move your entire group to other locations on the map or set up outposts around the area. Outposts allow you to transport scavenged goods back to the main base without having to travel all the way back.
One aspect that may surprise you is that death is permanent in the game. If you have spent hours building up a specific character and then get overrun by a bloodthirsty zombie horde, all of that work is wiped away. Just like a true zombie apocalypse, caution is key over the zombie slashing approach within games like the Dead Rising franchise. In many cases, you will likely have to choose between finding fewer supplies when searching an area quietly or risking the life of the character when attempting to rush through an area. You also need to balance the overall health of a character with missions. If you stick to heavily relying on a single character throughout the game, you will run them into the ground before long.
It's often better to avoid combat completely than charge ahead at zombies. Guns definitely attract the horde toward your location, thus it's better to stick with melee weapons. However, this also depletes the character's stamina bar, so you have to be carful how much you really get into. You can also hide fairly easily in the foliage. It almost seems like too much of an exploit when zombies are chasing you down, but quickly crouching the bushes will trick them completely.
In addition to resource and community management, multiple missions often pop up when exploring the environment. These can lead to the discovery of new survivors, but at the expense of continuing to scavenge for the current lot. Missions also pop up during current objectives on another mission, thus forcing the player to make a decision on who lives and who dies. Most of these include tasks like rescuing a survivor, hunting down a specific zombie, defending a location from an attack or visiting other towns in the area to build new relationships.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
This is an ugly game; there's no getting around it. The game world is filled with low resolution textures, clipping issues, pop-in graphics, framerate problems and poor camera angles. It's also filled with plenty of distracting bugs and glitches that hurt the overall experience. It just poor for a next generation high definition title. the only redeeming point are the complex menus, all of which look decent on the screen. It's somewhat surprising that Microsoft allowed this game to be released in this state.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Nearly as bad as the video, the barely adequate voice acting tells the narrative, but doesn't improve the game. In addition, the lack of recorded dialog also makes for some repetitive lines when walking around the game world. The only redeeming aspect of the audio work is the musical score developed by Jesper Kyd. It definitely fits the zombie genre of film and games.
Similar to a game like 'Animal Crossing', the game continues along while you aren't playing. Players need to build up reserves of supplies prior to stopping for the day, otherwise bad things can happen like character death. If you happen to skip a day, you will come back with resources deplete and will have to spend time scavenging to build everything back up. If you are a casual player, that can become extremely frustrating over time. However, it's smart to force the player to keep checking back in with their group of survivors and creates this continual need to fire up the game.
Sadly, there's no co-operative mode included, despite the game's design being absolutely perfect for it. Imagine being able to link up with three other players and collectively managing resources within the world. It would make the persistent world less of a hassle to deal with if multiple people could check in during the week. There's no adversarial multiplayer component to the game either.
As horrible as the production value of 'State of Decay' is, it's easily one of the most addicting and unforgiving zombie apocalypse games available on any system. It's extremely easy to look past all the glitches and get lost in the deep RPG, open world elements of the game. There's so many things to discover and the developer isn't holding your hand along the way. It's your job to be inquisitive and figure out how to survive, just like any other zombie apocalypse. It's also extremely competitively priced at just $20 on Xbox Live. If you love 'The Walking Dead' or realistic zombie games in general, don't hesitate to download 'State of Decay'.
- Dolby Digital 5.1
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