State of Decay
Gameplay - 9.5
Presentation - 8
Story / Creativity - 9
Lifespan - 10
State of Decay immerses you in the world like almost no other zombie games on the market today. It has earned a place among the great zombie video games of this generation such as Left for Dead, Dead Rising and the Walking Dead. With a little more polish and some little details put in here and there, State of Decay would have been picture perfect but with a price tag of only 20 dollars this is a must buy. You will get your money’s worth and so much more.
The zombie genre of gaming has been used time and time again to mixed reviews. Very rarely in this modern day and age will a game come around hit the nail right on the head and be able to differentiate itself among all the undead titles out there. Undead Labs and Microsoft Studios aimed to give players an all new and original zombie survival game by mixing the open world style gameplay of Grand Theft Auto with a serious and realistic apocalyptic and zombie infested universe. An ambitious idea yes, but does State of Decay revolutionize zombie games or does it fall flat like so many others before? Well let me just get one thing straight, State of Decay is how a zombie survival game should be done.
You won’t be mowing down horde after horde of zombies in a completely linear story until you get to the end and boom, credits. State of Decay is so much more than that. This open-world zombie survival game aims to provide players with an incredibly realistic, fun yet at the same time stressful experience. You are immediately thrust into this world where a zombie outbreak has occurred and as a human, you are clearly outnumbered with zombies, or “Zeds” as they are sometimes referred to in the game, around every corner waiting to attack you in large numbers. You don’t get to play as just one character, as you build up a nucleus of allies and survivors you are allowed to switch between them at any given time and go out and do whatever you please. This is an interesting idea but because there are so many characters and you have the ability to switch between them, you lose the attachment to characters you would normally get in this type of morbid world. If you were able to control only one character, whom you were possibly able to customize and personalize as well as have less yet more focused and deep characters, you would be incredibly engrossed and attached to these characters and seeing someone be attacked or even killed would have much more of an emotional impact. That and the story, which kind of takes a back seat because it’s fairly straight forward and average all around, are really the only downfalls of the game.
The gameplay of State of Decay is truly remarkable. You are able to approach any situation however you want making each time you play the game an incredibly unique and unforgettable experience. What you will be doing most of the game is simply trying to survive. You will be scavenging for supplies constantly in order to keep you and those around you alive but with the risk of possibly not coming back. Resources are finite and scarce so in order to get what you need, you must travel deep into zombie territory, which is no easy task. Unlike Left for Dead, where you are constantly attacked by waves of enemies and mow them down at will, zombies and yourself are quite evenly matched. The most you’ll be able to handle is about three zombies at a time and that’s only if you are accustomed to the combat system. Speaking of combat, you will never have so much fun yet be so tense when fighting in a zombie game. You can attack the zombies with any weapon you find, whether it be a hatchet or simply a branch, and proceed to dispose of them however you wish, whether it be beating them to a pulp or executing of the many brutal yet amazing finishers. However, you must manage your stamina. You won’t be able to go crazy with attacks because your character will get tired and ultimately leave yourself defenseless. Even if your character doesn’t fight at all, you will still get tired from extended exploration which will force you to return to your base of operations. This creates a fantastic sense of realness and brutality to this already tough world.
Or, you could go the complete opposite direction and take a stealthy approach. You have the ability to sneak past zombies and take them out quietly or go along your own way, completely bypassing the zombies and saving resources and energy. If you get past the zombies and manage to find some resources to scavenge you run into another complication, noise. When searching through a building you can go slowly or you can go through it very quickly at the expense of being very noisy and attracting zombies to your location. This noise factor also plays into weapons with guns and vehicles making a lot of noise as well. You can go the noisy and quick route if you wish but you are free to be patient and quiet as well. This ability to play the game as you wish and all these complications to your survival immerse you so much into the world of State of Decay. The gameplay and feel of the world are some of the best any zombie game has ever offered. It never gets old which allows for a huge replay value. This just adds to what is already a 10+ hour story at minimum which is extended vastly by hours and hours of gathering supplies. You will be spending a lot of time with State of Decay and you will enjoy tense second.
As far as the aesthetics of the game, you get what you pay for. State of Decay is only a 20 dollar XBLA title so the graphics won’t match up with those of most AAA titles. The graphics aren’t something the game is focused around. The look of the characters get s the job done while the atmosphere of the game does most of the heavy lifting. The scenery of the game is lovely, you will be placed in these vast fields and forests that look very appealing to the eye but are still infested with zombies.
The best part of the game as far as presentation goes is the score. It won’t try to use fast-paced music to try and give a feel of all-out action, instead it gives you slow, morbid music to fit the slow-paced and rough world you live in. This score along with great sound design, which has you hearing zombies all around you as they slowly walk around the building you’re in or even try to break down the door to try and attack you. It just adds to already stellar atmosphere.