State of Decay Year One Survival Edition Review

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Resurrected from the Xbox 360 arcade is the revamped version of State of Decay for the Xbox One. An open world, survival horror set in the zombie apocalypse some happy campers return from two weeks in the wilderness only to discover that most of the population no longer breathe and indulge in cannibalism. Much like Rick Grimes waking up in the first episode of the Walking Dead the characters in State of Decay have no idea what is happening and are trying to conserve every thing they can to survive with no information about the disaster unfolding around them.

Everyone is a desperate survivor, your surrounds are close to barren, and characters within safe houses loosely explain most of the story. However, their stories are short and sharp, their tolerance for the presence of strangers is non-existent. Eventually survivors will allow you to help them with small missions, like defending an area, looking for someone, or collecting supplies, if you do well enough you might have enough influence to lure the survivors into your own survivor camp. Mostly the story is about people trying to survive after the world went to hell, keeping the few survivors left together.

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Houses, Churches, Ranger’s Stations, there are a variety of places where survivors can fortify as a safe house to safe-keep other survivors. This comes with the problems of maintaining the morale of your community, the security of the safe house as well as its extensions, and running any errands that people might need. Influence points are gained for supplies that are scavenged, errands completed, and for some good deeds, these points can be spent or lost in a variety of ways. Letting people die, ignoring requests, and dangerous behaviour are all actions that can lose influence points. Avoid losing your points and there still won’t be a lot left to recruit survivors, resupply weapons, ammunition, food or medicine from the safe houses.

Scavenging throughout small towns of houses and shops make up most of the quests though there is little to find. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of the game, supplies are few and far between, find them and it’s a good idea to share them with your group or later there won’t be enough influence points to resupply from your home base. Whilst scavenging the only threat is zombies, after dark this threat increases, the undead become more frequent as the night grows darker. Allow these creatures from hell to trap you anywhere and there is a slim chance your character will make it out alive.

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Groups of zombies are called hordes, and the hordes can be alerted by any obvious or loud behaviour. Ideally the game would have players crouch through environments and take as long as possible to search for supplies or the horde will be alerted. To enhance your terror some of these undead will lurk on the floor of a building and then launch at your neck, a delightful experience that had me cursing at the screen several times.

There were a number of things that State of Decay did very well, such as the character design, combat, and the open world elements of the game. There are a limited number of characters that can be controlled, their deaths are permanent, they have other alliances that don’t automatically transfer with the control of another player. Every new character that is taken over must re supply before venturing beyond the safe house and recruit new people to join them of scavenged and missions. Those weapons available have a shelf life: melee weapons can be things like wood, an axe, basically any elongated item that can be held in one’s hand; there are a selection of shot guns and hand guns, but use these without a silencer or too close to a horde and it will be time to run. Taking on the zombies is mostly a problem if you’re trapped inside, outside there is plenty of space to distance yourself and pick off members of the horde, headshots are easy. Alternatively when driving a vehicle it is easy to run the horde over and quickly decimate their numbers, though the vehicle does sustain damage over time if it hits too many zombies.

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What let the game down was things like the graphics and expecting players to just know what is happening and where to go without any explanation. Exploring through the suburbs, or anywhere in the game will reveal the lurking dead, but you don’t expect them to be lurking through a closed window, or the bannister of a porch. When you’re scavenging through a location it’s a safe bet that the undead will attack, comically you have plenty of warning ahead of their arrival because they tend to smash windows 10 seconds ahead of launching through them. Sometimes windows will smash and sounds will emanate from outside suggesting a zombie, but there won’t be. If this happens during a mission you need to reset to the last save point because there is no way to eliminate the phantom dead. Missions are casually announced as a suggestion by an npc, decide to ignore that request and they nag you about it like a clingy housewife. These seem like minor problems that could have been easily avoided, which is why they impact my impression of the game so much.

My comments may be biased because I’m not that partial to RPG games, and State of Decay has more than enough RPG elements to be thrown in that category. The game is enormous considering it’s an XBLA title, so if you’re into RPG games and the zombie apocalypse then State of Decay offers you good value, and some potential replay value in that individual actions have consequences so you can theoretically do things differently each play through. Considering this is a refurbished game from last generation the errors in the graphics is not forgiveable, they’re throwback issues from the original release that should have been fixed ahead of the Xbox One release. This wouldn’t be so bad if the issue weren’t so prominent from the moment you start the game, everything glitches and it’s a shame because the game is otherwise beautiful.

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About: Sarah Rigg

Mini metalhead with a love of horror movies and video games. First started gaming on her brother’s N64 with Mortal Kombat. Favourite series include Bioshock, Pokémon, Silent Hill and Mortal Kombat.

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