Console: Xbox 360 Reviewer: Jon
* Emphasis on resource collecting and survival provides a fresh take on the over saturated genre
* Perma-Death provides a great deal of tension and gives an extra incentive to fight for your life
* Sandbox…..Zombies…..Need I say more?
* Some mission types can become tiresome and repetitive
* (Not a complaint) Really hope the addition of Co-op comes to fruition…. this game begs for it
Every now and again a game comes out that really breaks free from the stereo types. Lucky for us, this has happened once again with State of Decay. Gone are the days of typical zombie games, that merely asks you to shoot, reload, shoot. This is a game that puts the focus on survival, strategy and resource management. Have you ever wanted to see what it would be like to hold up in a safe house and managing the safety and concerns of your party? This might just be the game you have longed for. I personally looked forward to this title for months and followed the development cycle until it’s release. Does it deliver? In most ways, however the most exciting part of this project is the doorway it opens for the future of Undead Labs.
It is really hard to grasp the fact that State of Decay is solely an Xbox Live Arcade title. I have played $60 full budget releases that are less interesting that this title is. However, having said that you will notice that it isn’t the greatest graphical powerhouse that you have ever played. The good news is that once you figure this out, you simply won’t care.
The world is presented in B-Movie fashion. Voice acting is mediocre, textures aren’t outstanding, and with the regular graphical glitch here this title really fits into the zombie / b-movie genre perfectly. That may sound like a very generous statement, but really….. can you be a true zombie fan and not love campy zombie films? Perhaps that is one of the saving graces of this title’s short comings is the excellent choice of genre.
Or perhaps because it is truly a great game. In the end with all of knit picky complaints, everything is where is needs to be. State of Decay does a serviceable job of creating an open world to explore, survive and crack some zombie skulls. While the character models aren’t perfect, the world still looks pretty good. But that isn’t really where the focus is right?
Single Player: A
This is where State of Decay makes it mark in gaming history. I say that since release, it has actually became the fastest selling original game on Xbox Live. This is likely due to the addicting and fresh gameplay that it introduces to the hardcore zombie fan base.
I have been a long time fan of the original Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead and just about every other George A. Romero zombie film. I realize the market is extremely over-saturated now and zombies have become a pop culture phenomenon. While I’m happen that this genre has finally gained some ground, I am also saddened that I have kind of lost the “cult” status of a genre I grew up loving. Now it seems so easy to find a new zombie kill fest film or a game with an included zombie mode. Of course until State of Decay, the extent of these modes were to aim and shoot.
The breath of fresh air that State of Decay provides is nothing short of a liberating experience. Gone are the days of simply trying not to run out of ammo. Now you must keep an eye on the wellness of your group. You must ensure that you have enough food to get through the night and plan for regular outings to search for resources, medical supplies and ammo. You get the opportunity to set up safe houses, hold up in various buildings of your choosing and plan each survival run to target whichever resource you deem the be most vital.
This is all executed pretty well. The game seems to have it’s fair share of menus, however these never seem to become too intimidating or frustrating to navigate through. You are presented with regular “story” missions that will help you progress through the game and in GTA like fashion reveal new elements of gameplay. You will get the opportunity to choose safe houses, set traps and build add-ons to your shelters. This can be difficult at times due to the need for resources and limited spots to develop new areas.
Your party suffering from sleep deprivation? You may want to build more beds. Did someone is your group accidentally shoot themselves, you may want to create an area for combat training. Or perhaps expand the medical bay to better heal wounded members. Between making decisions for your group, managing resources and slaying zombies there is a lot that will keep you on your toes.
Perma-Death is something that also comes with the package. This can be frustrating, but also serves as a great incentive to care about your parry members. The game features a dynamic skill system that will increase your characters attributes based on your actions in the game. Overtime your character will better and if you aren’t careful, they can be killed leaving you to start all over with a new party member. While this could prove to be frustrating for some, I found it a welcome addition.
The other interesting design choice is the inclusion of the constant living world. The game continues the simulation whether or not you are in game. This probably isn’t as intricate as it sounds, but if you leave the game for days be prepared to start making some supply runs when you turn your game back on. This also helps to promote leaving your party in good shape before you shut your game off. Leave your group in bad shape and you can find things in pretty rough shape when you decide to finally show back up.
With all of the cool mechanics that State of Decay introduces, it also never strays from the ability to take down the undead. Whether or not you are sneaking through town and executing the unexpected or barreling down the streets in your pickup mowing down the reanimated corpses, this game delivers on the zombie experience.
Typically I won’t leave a grade blank. But let’s face it, I can’t hold the complete lack of multiplayer against this game. Why you may ask? Simply because Undead Labs really wants to include the mode in a future update. They have stated their desire and also before release stated the fact that this title was merely the stepping stone for the full fledged MMO zombie experience using this as it’s core game mechanic. Sure this title begs for co-op, but it is a great single player game. I will welcome the addition with open arms if it comes to light.
Replay Value: A
There isn’t much to get bored with this game. This is pretty much the zombie title we all have been waiting for. With a great set of well thought out mechanics, sandbox zombie slaying and a cheap price tag of $20 you are getting a great bargain. Sure some of the mission types can become slightly repetitive at times, but in the end you could just not do them. It may not result in the best outcome, but it’s your world right? Feel like just hopping in and mowing down zombie hordes? Or perhaps trying to stockpile as many resources as you can? Maybe you just wanna explore the landscape and do some sight-seeing, the choice is yours.
State of Decay is a great first effort for Undead Labs and a stepping stone for the zombie genre. This title comes with so many great ideas that all of it’s shortcomings never seem to matter. This is simply a must have for any zombie fan.