GAME NAME: State of Decay
DEVELOPER(S): Undead Labs
PUBLISHER(S): Microsoft Game Studios
RELEASE DATE(S): June 5, 2013
You have been away from society and come back to it being ravaged by zombies. How do you survive? How do you reclaim an area? State of Decay answers these questions and many more. Survival is the main goal in UndeadLabs Xbox Live Arcade game State of Decay.
Survival not only extends to keeping your character alive however, it also is your learning curve out of the gate. You are given a very basic “tutorial” on how to play the game at the beginning and then must pick up on the rest as you play or will helplessly fail. Learning the controls turns out to be the easiest part though. As you play, the community you are affiliated with will steadily grow. Gaining more supplies and keeping everyone happy becomes your new goals on-top of zombie “management”. Issues like base size and abundance of resources quickly become apparent as you search the surrounding areas. Do you adventure out farther and remain with your starter base and many outposts, or do you venture to a new location that could be sprawling with more zombies? The choices you make can determine the difference between a safe base and a base with a feral zombie running rampant.
Each base that you can command has a certain number of areas that you can build helpful “structures”. Each base has a watch tower that someone will snipe out of and extend the region that you are “safe” from zombies. This limits what you can build and can change your strategy. The most obvious structures to have are the medical facility and lodging. If you do not have somewhere for your community to sleep they will get exhausted and less useful and if you do not have a medical facility you risk having people die from injury or turning. Other structures allow you to grow food, cook food, repair weapons and vehicles as well as increase combat skills.
Along with combat skills there are many others skills like shooting and cardio. Anyone that has seen the movie Zombieland knows that rule #1 is Cardio. You can build up some skills by using them such as shooting. Other skills are completely useless and will never be used. I mean sports trivia is something that will kill of a lot of zombies right? No matter your skills per character you will have to overcome the zombie hordes together.
Your community will be built up from finding survivors around the area and building relationships with them. You can only play as characters that you have developed good relationships with so spending time with fellow survivors will help extend your gameplay options. Each survivor has their own unique skills and traits that makes them
all different for combating the zombies. Some may have useful skills you want to keep around, and others you may just want to feed to the hordes.
Now one of the most dangerous zombies you will face is a horde of zeds. Zeds are the generic zombie type just walking around brain dead. By themselves they pose very little threat, but as a large group they can be the end of a character. There will be roaming hordes of zeds that patrol around the town areas predominantly and can be quite a worry while scavenging for supplies. The next thing you need to worry about are the screamers. Most screamers will be found in infestations (houses overrun with zombies) and will be in combination with zeds. Screamers, like their name entails, will scream out stunning you and attract other zeds to attack you. Zeds and other zombies will also react to the sounds you make scavenging and driving cars so you have to be careful about how you get around looking for your supplies and completing missions. The zed hordes and the screamers will be your primary scares until you start running into feral zombies. All I am really going to tell you about feral zombies is that you should either be a really good shot, or find a way to get away without it
getting a hold of you.
Now with all of those zombies what could make the game truly a survival game? A little bit of RNG never hurt things right? For those of you that do not know what RNG is, it is a “Random Number Generator” that is essentially the randomness you find in games. Zombies, weapons, skills, cars, and supplies are all randomly generated. You could have a game with next to no infestations near your main base, or a game with 5-6 right next door. Now the beauty of the game is, that supplies are limited and since you aren’t guaranteed anything you have to figure out the best way to manage with what you can find.
Controls in the game are very fluid and do pretty much what you want them to do. There may be the occasional instance where you press a button to do something and nothing happens, but as soon as you press it again it goes on and works fine. Sound likewise is very spot on and conveys a zombie apocalypse very well. There is no mistaking the sound of a roaming zombie horde charging after you, or a screamer stunning you.
The only real downfall the game itself has, is in its graphics. This issue is well known among the community that plays as well as the developers and UndeadLabs as a whole. There will be tearing of video and some frame rate issues while playing the game. There is no escaping this. If that is something that deters you from playing this game or even trying it then you are missing out on an amazing experience. Even with the issues the gameplay is so good that you can look past the graphics and still have a very good time. Unfortunately there is no way for the development team to fix the graphical issues as it has to do with their engine, but there really doesn’t need to be a fix.
State of Decay has redefined the zombie survival genre and brought us an amazing game on the Xbox Live Marketplace. For 1600 Microsoft points you really get more than you are paying for and possibly the top XBL arcade title of the year, having already become the second highest selling arcade title on the marketplace. If you have not already, be sure to at least play the demo for the game and give it a shot. For 20 dollars this game cannot be beat!