Version tested: Xbox One
Also available on: Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Undead Labs
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Genre: Open-world 3rd person zombie survival
This is a bit of old news, since State of Decay came out back in 2013. For me, that was the year I was trying to get on the scene in YoPro life (don’t worry, I want to punch myself in the face for saying that too). I think the only game of note I played that year was Bioshock: Infinite. So if you’re expecting a comparative review between the State of Decay and the re-release, may I recommend this review from IGN.
By all accounts, State of Decay was moderately successful with a score of 72 on Metacritic and even a well-above-average 8.9/10 on IGN. All in all, however, it flew pretty low under the radar; what with the Left 4 Dead franchise still ruling the zombie action market and the Dead Rising franchise dominating the more open-world, 3rd-person style.
First things first: This game is half the price of any other game like it. As of this publication, it is selling on Xbox Live for $30 (with 2 addons included). I rented it so I had no idea that was the case and I was legitimately shocked when I saw the actual price tag. It plays like a $60 game; with a vast collection of weapons, vehicles, characters, and a huge world. The only element I saw that would justify such a low price tag are some moderate clipping issues and (barely) subpar graphics for a machine with the horsepower of the Xbox One. The clipping isn’t all bad though; it sometimes lets you bash a zombie (or “zed”) through a solid wall and will sometimes make you gasp in horror as the camera enters an allies head and turns them into floating teeth and eyes.
There’s not a ton of storyline to speak of. The idea of the game is that two guys went on a camping trip and came back to civilization to find that the zombies had taken over. So don’t go into this expecting Dying Light levels of espionage or Walking Dead personal drama and politics. Although there is a morale meter that you have to pay attention to, it’s not something that’s going to dominate your gameplay time.
The rest is left largely up to the player. Do you want to recruit as many survivors as possible? Do you want to focus on medical care or ammunition? In this aspect, it is very much like an RPG. You have to learn to ration your resources (including people, as playing as only one character will cause them to be injured and tired and more vulnerable to death). The RPG aspect follows your people too, as using certain skills builds up each characters’ strengths. The use of different types of ammo for different weapons (9mm, 7.62, 5.56, .22, etc) rather than the generic “pistol ammo,” and “rifle ammo” will leave us real-life gun-toters clapping with glee. In fact, realism (enhanced by the RPG aspects mentioned above) is a major reason I love this game.
There are also some rad zed-killing animations that include using your partner. And the animations of your characters getting killed (well… the one I saw) are pretty damn gruesome too.
I will be totally honest; I rented this game yesterday as a bit of a time-waster without really any expectation. Next thing I knew, it was 6 hours later and my first character died because of a dumb mistake I made. In the interest of not wanting to kill anymore of my 12-strong crew, I packed it in for the night and went to bed to read some comics, where I knew characters were going to die regardless of my fatigue.
I normally like to put a little more time into playing games before I review them (especially when they have add-ons like Year One), but I wanted to push this out to you today because this is the last day Xbox Live is offering the $29.99 bundle, and in my opinion, you’re getting a steal for that. I personally am a disappointed that I’m going to be 100% swamped over the next month on another project, because I could easily spend the next two weeks/months (well, until Arkham Knight comes out) on my couch playing State of Decay: Year One.
Billy is a freelance writer living in Indianapolis with his dog, BoJack. He enjoys TED talks, video games, sunny days, football, and the salty tears of his enemies.