BADGP Reviews: State of Decay
State of Decay (Undead Labs, Microsoft)
Released: June 5, 2013
August 8, 2013
Review: What Do You Get if You Cross Dead Rising and Grand Theft Auto?
In a market over-crowded with games focused on the undead, it can be hard to stand out from the slowly staggering crowd. Zombies keep popping up everywhere: Red Dead Redemption, Call of Duty, Saints Row: The Third, even the Yakuza series could not avoid the draw of the brain consuming monsters. Undead games are the new “WWII-FPS” of this generation in its twilight. So it could be said that launching a new zombie franchise at the closing of a generation plus being downloadable only might seem pointless or ill-advised in a run-into-the-ground genre, but Microsoft knows that zombies sell… and sell State of Decay did. The question then is: Is State of Decay a game that justifies its existence in an over saturated sub-genre and is it worth playing? The short answer to both is: Yes.
State of Decay is an open-world, zombie-infested, survival/community management sim from the third-person perspective. What appears as a slightly more open Dead Rising at first carves its own unique identity upon closer examination. The game begins as the zombie apocalypse starts (although it is presumed to be an isolated event). The player takes the role of many players throughout the game which is a part of State of Decay’s unique gameplay design. First things first, find a base, recruit survivors, upgrade that base’s defenses or move to another place; the choice is yours.
How Does it Play?
State of Decay is a fairly technical game that juggles many mechanics at once. The player acquires ranged and melee weapons (that, yes, do degrade over time, but they may be repaired) and has a stamina bar, RPG and progression elements that are critical. Running everywhere is important to up one’s “Cardio” skill that will deplete less stamina when sprinting upon being raised. There are multiple playable characters and they each upgrade independently making it quite painful to lose a character one put a lot of time and effort into. Other skills include fighting, shooting, leadership, etc. Speaking of leadership, the player controls a base that can be fortified and upgraded to be able to host more people. Managing reputation with other communities by completing quests can lead to the ability to join their community or have them join yours, provided you have the necessary bed space. Many quests involve boosting your own communities’ morale almost always by “blowing off a little steam” which always translates to “killing lots of zombies” or zeds as the game likes to refer to them as. There is a main quest line centering on the military’s involvement in the entire ordeal, thus the State part of the title. State of Decay took me between 11 and 12 hours to complete.
How Does it Look/Sound?
Sadly, State of Decay is a technical nightmare; though it only directly affected my gameplay once. I was speeding down a highway and a large rock had not popped-in yet and I slammed into it costing me a good deal of health and a sweet ride. The pop-in is generally horrendous. Enemies and NPC’s regularly clip through the environment. I did not experience any audio glitches and the sound design is what one would expect: a lot of groaning and “objects striking a skull” – like sound effects. The voice acting is overall very good, but there is certainly an issue with repeated dialogue line repetition.
How Does it Compare?
State of Decay’s unique base management, strong progression elements, and solid driving certainly justifies its existence while providing ample entertainment. I did feel like I was playing Dead Rising with new constant quest assignments and knowing I would not be able to tackle them all. Other than that, there is not much out there like State of Decay and certainly nothing with its unique gameplay combination.
Concluding on State of Decay
Though it felt a little on the short side (expect 10-15hr), State of Decay inspires multiple playthroughs. Interacting with the characters one did not get to interact with enough the first time or moving one’s base to another location both are enough incentive to dive back into the world of State of Decay. It is also only twenty dollars downloadable-only game and feels experimental. I am anxious to see what Undead Labs cooks up next.
8.7 out of 10