Zombies may be the most tired genre in video games at this point, but even with the extremely high number of zombie video games out there I’ve still never found my perfect zombie game. Day Z and Dead Island were close for me but they both lacked a few things here and there that didn’t let them cross that finish line. With that being said, State of Decay is the Zombie game that I have been waiting for this whole generation. State of Decay is a downloadable open world zombie game that I have been following for a couple years now. As overplayed as zombies are I’ve never really been completely satisfied with what a lot of the games had to offer, which is to say pure survival with great mechanics. Dead Island had the world and mechanics while Day Z had the survival but State of Decay brings both of these aspects into play in some very successful ways.
The game has a story and while things happen and the world changes as you play it, you could honestly ignore it completely and still have a blast in this world. The game features a quite large open world rural style map with multiple towns, some woods, and a lot of farmland so there’s plenty of environmental variety. The game opens with two friends being attack by zombies at a campsite and leads to them having to escape the area in a car to the nearest town where they meet up with other survivors at what will become your home base. From that point on you are taking missions that involving souring for supplies, looking for other survivors, or putting infected team mates out of their misery. However, if following the story just isn’t in your interest then you aren’t tied to that content. You are completely free to roam around and do whatever you want; you can search every house or just run around and slaughter legions of the undead. State of Decay is as dark of a world as any other zombie game and its impressive how expansive and effective a downloadable game like this can be. If you neglect your bases they can fall to zombies and if you don’t keep up with your team then they will become bitter and angry. The game does a fantastic job of putting a sense of dread and despair in the world. The world has a slightly dynamic quality, like for example if a zombie hoard is near your base and you are across the map then they can attack your base and you may have to rush back to help everyone. Cars and trucks will also remain where you left them so it’s best to make sure you leave a vehicle where you may need it.
The map in State of Decay is actually quite large and you have multiple options of travel. You can run or sneak everywhere, climb up small cliffs, and you can even hop in cars scattered around the world and drive. Zombies are everywhere and combat with them inevitable. You main interactions with zombies will probably be the melee combat which is a simple mashing attack that can sometimes stumble the undead and allow you to perform a killing strike, but if you’re mashing the button too much then you can lose your stamina and become tired. This also happens from sprinting. There are also plenty of guns and ammo stashed around in the many houses you can loot. Looting houses is maybe my favorite idea in this game. You can go inside every single building in the game and rummage through cabinets and things for supplies that you can keep or return to your base. You may find weapons or even alarm clocks or other household objects that you can use as distractions. You may even find a stash of pills or energy drinks to restore your health and energy. After you’ve search a house you can board up the windows and even establish a new safe house if your crew likes you enough to trust you.
One of my favorite things you can do in this game is open the car door as you’re driving and hit zombies. It always gets a laugh and even pops an achievement! There are multiple characters that you can switch between when your stamina runs low or if a player dies. If someone you are playing as gets eaten by zombies than it will be up to your new player to find his pack and return his things to get your supplies back. This does a great job of adding some realism and danger to the world, especially if you lose your character that’s leveled up the most!
State of Decay is not the best looking game by any means. The frame rate can actually get pretty bad but it’s nothing that breaks the game. The game is full of little glitches and bumps that aren’t game breaking and are almost part of the charm. The occasional AI and animation glitches on the zombies are just kind of silly looking and lead more to laughs than groans. While the graphics aren’t anything to brag home about, Undead Labs makes up for it by just creating a well-realized zombie-infested world. The map has a lot of different varieties of areas and all of them feel very apocalyptic, especially when you are dodging broken down cars while driving through the towns. I can list faults like lag and screen tearing but honestly playing the game is fun enough and it works well enough that none of these issues ever really get in the way. The game manages to set a dark and dreary tone with its graphical limitations and tuneful music that will keep you on edge the entire time and, given the size of the game, it’s pretty impressive. The worst part, however, is the in game menus. Text is small and the inventory screen and menus could use a huge redesign. There’s also no great way of tracking quests aside from looking for dots on your map. If I would fix one thing about the game it would definitely be the UI.
State of Decay is an impressive open world zombie game that can actually rival blockbuster zombie games like Dead Island. The game is fifteen dollars on Xbox Live and if you are a huge zombie or horror fan than the game won’t disappoint. There aren’t a lot of survival games with these kinds of mechanics, let alone ones that actually work properly, so for being a downloadable game you get a lot of bang for your buck and get to have a fun time supporting the work of a small team .I know I will continue to come back to this game even after this generation has moved on and, with us being this late in the console cycle, and having an almost unlimited number of zombies games to choose from, that really says something.