State of Decay – Xbox 360 (Live Arcade)
Platform: Xbox 360 (Live Arcade)
Developer: Undead Labs
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: June 5th, 2013
Nerd Rating: 7.0 / 10
Reviewed by Rhutsczar
State of Decay also has additional downloadable content (Breakdown and Lifeline) which will be covered in follow-up reviews.
Have you ever wanted to traverse a world riddled by the undead? This is how you would do it. State of Decay is an open world survival horror game from Undead Labs. Surrounded by varying types of zombies, you must survive(?) as long as you can in order to escape Tumbleweed Valley. Maybe there is hope on the outside, if you every make it there. Will the local police be of any help? Will the military finally step in and quell the infection? What kind of people really live in Trumbell Valley? All of these answers and more, next on State of Decay.
We follow supposed everyman characters Marcus Campbell (a store clerk who is an athlete and a born leader) and Ed Jones (his friend obsessed with reality TV). On their way back from a fishing trip at Mt. Tanner, they find that the majority of the citizens have died and reanimated as the living dead. The duo moves to the ranger station and finds a small group of survivors. While searching the area for supplies and survivors, Marcus and Ed hear gunshots and rescue Maya Torres, a soldier. Returning to the ranger station, they find that one of the survivors has turned and killed the others. They do however find a walkie-talkie which the trio use to talk to one of the survivors’ daughter, Lily. Lily directs them in escaping Mt. Tanner and making their way to a church called the Church of the Ascension, where she and several other survivors have made a home base. This will be your home base for the majority of the game.
Being hailed much like a console port of Day-Z, State of Decay takes from traditional zombie creeping games to more modern fast-paced zombie horde running and gunning. State of Decay drops you off into the hostile environment immediately. You can either play the safe game and sneak around, slyly and quietly decapitating zombies, or play the game the fun way. Steal all of the cars, kill survivors and masses of zombies, search for supplies, or just play mediator at your home base. All of these are possible; how you play the game is entirely up to you.
I was actually glad to see that State of Decay wasn’t like all other kinds of zombie games and actually has a plot that evokes emotion. The further and further I went into the game, I was introduced to more complex characters with actual real-life problems. For example, the second major NPC you meet, Lily Ritter, has Lupus erythematosus (an auto-immune disease that attacks healthy tissue). While it doesn’t play a major role in the story, since it only takes up a single quest or two, it moved the game to an entirely different emotional level.
State of Decay gives the player the ability to not be stuck into playing one character. In the beginning of the game you can play as any of the first three characters (Marcus Campbell, Ed Jones, or Maya Torres) but as the game progresses and you discover more survivors, you will have the option to switch to their characters. This adds another layer to the game because the game’s branching story changes depending on which characters are alive and which have succumbed to the zombie hordes.
This ability to change characters also expands on State of Decay’s fighting mechanic. The characters each have a similar yet
different fighting style that changes the way you have to play the game. If you are playing as Marcus I would suggest heavy weapons, while if you play as Maya or Ed stick with martial arts and long range rifles (or just sneak around, but who wants to do that?). As you fight and mow down the hordes of zombies, you increase your various stats to better adapt to the growing numbers of undead. Some characters are more well-adapted for fighting than others, but the more you play the more you understand the characters’ strengths and weaknesses.
Just throwing this out there, but State of Decay is a fun as all hell game to play. The controls are solid and comfortable. I was able to pick up the game and play it in its entirety with relative ease. I didn’t encounter any major bugs while playing through the main story, but afterwards small glitches occurred. This wasn’t a surprise to me since I have found that indie games always have some glitches/performance issues. It didn’t affect my play through too much as the occurrences spanned from random zombie spawning to deceased characters coming back to life like nothing had happened.
If you are in the mood to actually play a fun zombie game, I recommend downloading and giving State of Decay a try. The game is entertaining as all hell with an engaging story to boot. While the game’s non-story quests become repetitive later in the game (obviously to be filler), the quests are entertaining enough to keep you actually interested in the story. Have fun going out into the undead-populated remnants of Trumbell County and slaying thousands of “innocent” zombies!
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