State Of Decay Review

15Jun

By Larry Ragland

decaypic5.jpg

Armed with a branch of wood and a clear conscience, State of Decay puts you in the shoes of an assortment of characters, all with various backgrounds and abilities, that share the common goal of survival. Whether it’s searching abandoned homes for much needed supplies or hoping that the car will start before the horde reaches you, all the tension that you’d expect from a zombie apocalypse is here.

Story

You start the game as an average everyday guy out and about enjoying themselves in the woods when suddenly you hear a cry for help. Rushing to the scene, you find a fellow camper, desperately trying to survive a very primal attack by fellow human beings. Gnashing teeth and zombie spittle are the least of your worries as more and more zombies come shambling in from the surrounding woods. It takes mere seconds to play out, but by the time you’re finished with your first encounter, you’re keenly aware that something has gone horribly wrong.

decaypic3.jpg

The story isn’t so much about the individual characters that you can switch between freely, but rather, it’s about the combined experience. They each play differently in the sense that some may be more athletic, thus giving you greater stamina, or they may be really good with firearms, causing you to not waste so much of your ammunition.

Gameplay

For the most part, combat is fun and satisfying. There are a few glitches here and there but nothing that detracts from the game. Namely zombies stuck in walls and things of that nature. What I was surprised about was the attention to little details. For example, let’s say you’re in a car and as you’re driving along you come across a group of zombies. My first reaction is to hit the gas and smash as many of them as I can--and that works to a degree. Often times you’ll find zombies hanging on to your vehicle, bashing on the hood or trying to rip you from the drivers seat as they hang on to your door. Pressing the X button allows you to shake them off. It’s a really subtle, but appreciated touch. Be careful as you progress though because it’s perma-death for your character should you fall in combat.

decaypic1.jpg

As you’re running around fighting the undead, you’ll need to keep an eye on your stamina and health. Every time you engage in melee combat, your stamina bar goes down and ultimately, you end up performing weaker and weaker strikes. Snacks can help build it up quickly, as does running for dear life. In missions where you’re with another person, it can get dicey quick and on more than one occasion I had to flee, leaving my AI teammate behind.

decaypic2pg.jpg

Zombies can hear you and are attracted to sound and light, something that game allows you to do. Everything you do makes noise and you have to keep that in mind when you’re going through the game. Gunshots are especially loud and good at drawing attention. Even the type of car you come across and drive plays a role. American muscle cars may be faster than that beat up station wagon you passed by but you’ll attract less attention because of engine noise. It’s things like that that help bring this world to life.

Sound & Music

For the most part, the sound effects aren’t anything special. The satisfying crunch of smashing a zombies head can be invigorating, but everything else sounds so-so. Don’t expect a bevy of beefy sound effects.

The soundtrack is nicely done on the other hand. It’s appropriately moody and is good at matching the on screen drama. Most of the time you’re treated to ambient sound, which I like. It’s nice to have a game where music isn’t going the whole time, only when it’s needed. You won’t be searching for the soundtrack on iTunes but what’s there works very well.

Graphics

Aside from a few technical hiccups, State of Decay is not a bad looking game. The huge open world was a surprise as a downloadable title, as were the little details that Undead Labs, the games developer, put into the game. It isn’t a visual tour de force by any means. The textures and overall art style aren’t AAA level but it’s far from an ugly game, just don’t expect block buster production level.

decaypic4.jpg

Overall

I’ve sunk hours into this game and in many ways, I feel like I just scratched the surface. There is plenty to do here between exploring, fighting and leveling up. You have to pay attention to what is going on around you or you’ll find yourself alone with no characters to switch to because they all died. Boarding up before night fall, making sure you have medical supplies, food and shelter--this all falls on your lap. The rest of the survivors are counting on you to pull them through and sometimes, it can feel like a daunting task.

State of Decay is a great game at a great price. If you’re looking for something to pick up between big releases, this may be a game for you. For zombie fans, this game is almost a given. It’s all about survival and State of Decay does a darn good job of making you realize just that.

8.0/10