When State of Decay was first released back in 2013 for the Xbox 360 as a Live Arcade game it caused a bit of a stir. For starters, it was a pretty large-scale game amongst the usually bite-sized Arcade efforts and it was also rather good. In Australia the game garnered itself an instant ban due to portraying the positive effects of taking drugs (i.e. painkillers and stimulants).
In the end the developers, Undead Labs, played ball with the Australian censors so Aussies could all play this game that the rest of the world was raving about. And it was good. Well…the gameplay was good. Visually, even by Xbox 360 standards, State of Decay looked like dogs breakfast. In fact I found it so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to play it. I even tried the PC version and that wasn’t much better.
So here we are again with yet another polished up version of a last-gen game.
State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition on the Xbox One has really benefited from the extra attention that this remaster has afforded it. Not only are the two expansions Breakdown and Lifeline included, but the unforgivable graphics has been overhauled so as to be a lot less offensive this time.
State of Decay adds a new twist to the rapidly expanding catalogue of zombie games out there. In one sentence, it’s a third-person dynamic zombie apocalypse survival simulator.
The main State of Play game brings the zombie apocalypse to small-town America. Set in Trumble Valley, a typical bit of mid-western country, the huge open-world game area is dotted with a couple of small towns and a few settlements. The game starts as two friends return from a fishing trip only to find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
Instead of playing as a hero fighting his way through the undead, players take control of a survivor with the aim on building a community.
In order to survive the zombie outbreak your community needs supplies. Building materials are needed to improve the facilities, ammo for weapons and, of course food. As you equip your settlement your group becomes stronger and your equipment improves.
This is a game that breaks away from the usual kick-ass lone survivor zombie action games that are now ten and penny and instead focuses on a group just trying to survive. It almost feels more like a third person real-time strategy game, with players collecting resources and building their community.
What happens is mainly down to the player as you scavenge for food and supplies, and build on your compound. Outside of that, there are quests to be undertaken, some of which are time limited. It’s all, however, up to the player and how you want to proceed.
At certain points story events are triggered adding extra challenges to the game. I would go into details, suffice to say, humans can be just as much trouble as the undead.
The game evokes as real sense of loss as survivors die. You mourn the character that you’ve come to know over the past few hours and then you move on and take over the next luckless soul.
How you play is very much up to you. You can sneak about hiding from hordes of undead, attack them head on with a variety of make-shift melee weapons, shoot them, or jump into one of the many abandoned cars and mow down every zombie that gets in the way.
The game is open-world, giving players a sandbox to forge their own adventures and stories. It’s not as big or as detailed and Grand Theft Auto, but it has a day/night cycle that keeps things interesting.
The game’s two expansions add a bit more gameplay to an already pretty engrossing game.
The first, Breakdown, is simply a sandbox mode, free of any narrative. Players are simply tasked with repairing an RV in order to escape the valley.
The second add-on, Lifeline, is a much more full-bodied a narrative adventure that focuses on the military trying to maintain control of Danford City and keep the citizens alive. With a totally new map, the city being a stark contrast to the many open Trumble Valley, Lifeline almost feel like a sequel.
Both expansions, however, follow the same basic gameplay mechanics set up in the main game- you collect resources and improve your bases.
There really is something for everyone here. You can get lost managing your resources and working out what your community needs. You can take a car out for a spin and cause some carnage. Releave some tension bashing undead or just sneak about and explore. The game is a really refreshing take on an aging genre.
State of Play turned heads when it was first released on the Xbox 360 and became an instant hit. With the polished up visuals and the extra DLC included, the State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition is pretty much a must-buy for Xbox One owners. It’s still a little rough around the edges, but the gameplay offered is so good, it’s easy to ignore its weak points.