I’ve been absolutely obsessed with Walking Dead back when it aired originally. I’d never read the comics or knew about its comic background until well after becoming a fan of the TV series. I’m still an enormous fan of the series (as is … well just about everyone at this point). Recently I’ve taken to playing nearly all Zombie-themed (that looks decent anyways) games that I could get my grubby hands on. I recently reviewed How to Survive and I thought that while that game was fantastic, that it lacked the sandbox nature of what a GREAT apocalypse simulator title should have.
Enter State of Decay. Clearly this was a console emphasized only title with a later “mmo project” to be based upon this predecessor. Whether or not that’s still going to happen, I’ve lost track. Regardless this title popped up on my radar when Steam put an early-access price on checking the game out. Unfortunately I do not have a gamepad (which was required during the early-access console-conversion) so I never bothered to buy it. Then about a week ago it left “beta” and was released with mouse support on Steam.
State of Decay is best described as a rather accurate and “realistic” portrayal of what surviving the Zombie Apocalypse might be like. Food, Ammunition, Transportation, Morale and even noise are simulated as variables in this title. Your small enclave must gather the materials necessary to survive; including upgrading your home base to prevent it from being overrun by Zombies (“Zeds”).
A few noteworthy items pop out; The game has a “storyline”, though your participation in it is rather arbitrary. You can chose to ignore major plot points and instead just focus on survival, but I feel the monotony of it would be difficult to enjoy. New plot lines are injected into the game as your characters complete (or ignore) old ones; sort of forcing you to acknowledge the world is changing around you. It’s a refreshing approach and adds a level of realism to it. Ignore the Army’s activities around your base? Okay, you can do that. Few games really let you have that level of choice.
I also enjoyed the persistent state of the game. Cars that I rammed into hordes of zombies aren’t replaced magically. The city I’m operating out of has a very limited supply of… well… supplies. Early on I felt like I HAD to remove the threat of the roaming zombie hordes (a very dangerous threat as I discovered). I rammed my cars and trucks right into them, slaughtering them in glorious splatter. The problem is my cars broke down and eventually exploded. Limited supply… does not include the Zombies (who do respawn!).
The characters that make up your band of survivors are also in limited supply. The main character I started the game with, met his demise rather early in my exploration of State of Decay. I was surprised when the game didn’t end, but instead dropped me into the body of a recently joined member of my enclave. That’s when it started to dawn on me that this title isn’t joking with the consequences of wading into battle with a horde of zombies. Those who are cautious are far more likely to be rewarded then those who want a “Dead Rising”-like zombie slaughter fest.
My experience on the ground and out of a car was far less encouraging. I lost far too many people (two) to my decision to make every one of my survivors melee experts. The zombies keep coming from every direction and sometimes it is really difficult to get out from a bad situation. I lost one of my more recent characters to being forced to break out a shotgun to thin a swarm down, when a roaming zombie horde overheard my gun shots and ran to assist in my demise. Melee swings drain your stamina bar, and it’s a finite resource that is simultaneously used to sprint away from threats. Fight too long, and your ability to run from a fight is removed.
I’m obsessed with this game at this point, clearly. The whole idea of building a settlement and fortifying it was one of my biggest grievances with How to Survive (it was a facet entirely absent) and this game introduces it in spades. This is seriously a title for the survivor fan or those who love the Walking Dead. There is nothing more satisfying then sneaking past a “herd” or finding a sports car to ram into them seconds later. State of Decay is by far the best zombie apocalypse simulator that I’ve ever played and it deserves your time and money.
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