Posted by : Dewey Riou III Thursday, June 13, 2013

6/13/13 3:00PM |

Developer- Undead Labs
Publishers- Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date- June 5th, 2013
Price- $19.99 MSRP
Review Platform- Xbox Live Arcade


Surviving the Decay



State of Decay is all about survival and choices. To be effective as you maintain your community you'll need resources, which will one day run out as you explore the open-world, people skills, as you attempt to calm survivors who bring down morale and cause group problems, and tactics, as you decide where to set up bases and how to tackle zombie hordes.

Undead Labs have created a game that gives you the freedom to live out the zombie apocalypse your way, and in the process have created one of the best arcade titles on Xbox Live and one that ranks high among the zombie experiences that are available on any platform.



When you start a new game in State of Decay, you're quickly introduced to Marcus, the first of many playable survivors, as he and his camping buddy Ed fend off attackers who we all know are zombies. The beginning area of the game lets you learn some of the basics behind State of Decay, and from there its up to you on how things will play out next. If you want, you can begin jumping right into the story missions, which took me about 12 hours to complete, or you can simply begin your process of surviving to see how long you can last in Trumball Valley, the setting of State of Decay which contains many enter-able buildings to explore.

State of Decay stands on it's own in comparison to games like Dead Rising and Dead Island due to it's open-world, stamina, and simulation factors. You'll never see a loading screen as you venture the Valley, and essentially every building can be entered and checked for supplies. These supplies will all appear in realistic locations too, as you'll hope to find guns at a police station or hunting cabin, and food in a refrigerator or mini-mart store.



No matter what action you'll take playing as a character, it will require stamina to use. From running, climbing, jumping, and attacking, you'll have to take care about how much stamina your character has when performing these actions. There are ways to increase your stamina, but eventually characters will get tired, requiring you to find some energy drinks to help them out, or returning back to base and taking control of another person, which is usually the recommended action that the game hints to you.

Stamina also comes into play when you have exceeded the amount of weight your character can carry, which in return will hinder the amount of supplies they can bring back to base.

Characters can be leveled up and improved, but are still very vulnerable to getting killed, which is permanent for each potential playable character in your group. If you play as a character with a great arsenal of items and get overwhelmed, you'll be able to retrieve those lost items, but that person is gone in your world forever, taking away one less individual who can help scavenge the land for your community.

This also applies to cars, which can be repaired if you have the right setup at your base, but a blown car is gone for good just like a fallen survivor.



Simulation comes into play as things will move forward regardless of whether you're there to see it or not. Characters will go off on their own for supplies, meaning they won't just stand around waiting for you to take control of them. In the best scenario, they may come back with an assortment of supplies, and in the worst, they may go missing and you can seek them out, or you may come back to learn that they were taken out by the undead in your absence.

If you go out for a few hours and come back to the game, things will have gotten either better or worse for your survivors, a factor which is dependent on how everything was when you last played. Another neat feature of the game is that it utilizes real-time to build structures in the game that can be used at your home base.

Let's say you want to radio other survivors that may know where you can find ammo. This will usually take about nine actual minutes, so it's best that you go out and do other things as you wait to hear back. Other requests can take much longer. I wanted to research how to build a greenhouse to produce food, and had to wait 24 actual hours after I had procured enough influence and resources to do so.

Time is also a factor when it comes to how you play the game, as there is a day/night cycle which changes by the hour. This isn't real-time, which is nice for those that can only play at a certain time, meaning everyone can see how things differ during the day and night when they play the game.

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There's no need for money in the zombie apocalypse, but currency is still important – that's where Influence comes into play. Influence is gained in State of Decay by completing survivor and story missions, adding items to the supply locker of your base, and by taking out infestations, houses or buildings occupied by some undead hostiles.

To take something out of the locker is almost like buying it, so you'll have to be sure to take out only what you need so that others can have enough items to use when you're out and about. It's a pretty neat system that works well, and does a nice job to balancing out costs. Pills and ammo aren't too much to pull out, and the better weapons that you find are fairly priced based on the influence you have to spend.

Scavenging is pretty fun to do, but most people play zombies titles to, well, kill zombies in different ways, which State of Decay definitely provides in that aspect. Melee and blunt weapons are easy to perform, and upon leveling up your skills, you can use special moves to brutally finish of the undead. Guns are nice too, but sound is a major factor in the game, so you'll want to use suppressors to lower your sound factor when firing upon zombies so too many other undead won't come around to check out the commotion.

Vehicles offer up one of the best ways to take out the undead, and you can even use the driver's door to hit zombies Ala Zombieland. You gotta enjoy the little things.



As the time of this review, over 450,000 gamertags have been up on the game's leaderboards for zombie kills, so the game is already becoming a big hit. While it has some technical issues such as screen-tearing and going through certain objects, they're not enough to hinder the overall experience in my opinion. I can only hope that someday co-op will be added to the game, an element I can imagine everyone wants that is playing the game.

Undead Labs knows this as well, and has stated that a massive zombie open-world game with many players is in their future, and something sure to be welcomed by players based on the current success that State of Decay is already becoming.

With a great musical score by Jesper Kyd filling the game's atmosphere, and the fun yet challenging simulation factors, Undead Labs have shown that there is room for innovation with zombie titles. This is a must-play for anyone on Xbox 360 who loves and embraces the zombie culture of entertainment.

Review Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided for reviewing purposes by Undead Labs.



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