Ben Rayner reviews State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition…
When State of Decay landed on the Xbox 360 all those moons ago, it really set the bar for just how much scope there could be for an Indie title. The world was huge and the story could go on for as long as you wanted it to, you were the story, Every new stranger you met along the way was another life line, another part of your adventure to tell through the eyes and experiences of another. Sure, there were slight problems here and there. It wasn’t the most beautiful looking game out there and with quite the slew of menus it could be fussy at times. The controls weren’t perfect either; handling combat well while climbing and other more nuanced movements leaving a lot to be desired but at its heart, it was the perfect open world zombie game. Something few games can boast.
With the Next Generation of consoles fully underway, Undead Labs have taken the chance to add some much needed spit and polish to the game and released State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition which, along with a few tweaks here and there, comes bundled with all of the game’s previous DLC packs.
If you haven’t played the original release, then you have seriously been missing out!
Death in State of Decay, despite what Zombie lore may in fact be telling you, is permanent. If you make one slip up from exhausting your stamina in the midst of a zombie horde or something as silly as misjudging the height you’ve left from, then welcome the game over screen. Of course, death doesn’t have to be the end of your story. Theres no shortage of strangers and weary travellers who can step into the shoes of Leader.
As you wander the vast open world around you, making friends is key to survival. Make a friend and lead them back to your current homestead and their life is yours to mould.
Something that quickly becomes less of a back up and much more of an actual survival skill within itself. Each time you make a run for supplies, such as food or medicine and your current survivor will more than likely limp back, exhausted and low on health. Switch characters for a while and allow them to rest and regain all their lost stats, it’s the right thing to do!
These new-found friends aren’t just empty shells. Far from being blank avatars there for switching when the mood arises, each has their own back story, personality, weapons, inventories as well as characteristics and combat styles. The more you play as a certain persona, eventually their attributes will be upgraded. Something which is some what of a double edge sword as while you’re favoured survivor will become stronger and more useful, eventually he’ll become all the less expendable, making you weary about opting to take on those bigger missions, should the worst happen and you be left with a weaker substitute.
It’s surprising how much of an emotional weight this brings in too!
As you spend so much time getting to know your character and the wider group, any of their deaths weigh heavy on your conscience. Leaving you to constantly repeat the events in your mind and try to work out exactly what went wrong!
Switching regularly and earning favour with your group is important then, to keep your band of merry men and woman strong, ready for the newly aggressive world.
Freedom is the key word in State of Decay. It’s tied to it in spirit and floods every aspect of the game. It’s entirely up to you where you wish to call home, simply clear out a building, barricade the windows and get fortifying your base! The same goes for whoever joins your newly established community. Any survivor can be brought back and accepted into the group, or simply left to fend for themselves should you decide they aren’t worthy of a space within your tight nit community. All these decisions have effects on the wider group though. Bring too many people in and watch supplies dwindle and sleep deprivation set in, simply through lack of supplies and beds.
While the world is free to explore, the supplies within it are not infinite, meaning each community you plunder only remains valuable for a short time as you must begin to travel further and further away in order to find what you need. This race for survival adds a mounting sense of pressure, something which requires serious consideration before trying to remedy.
This is a zombie game that does away with the one man army ethos in favour of celebrating the beauty of community. Think of it as your chance to relive The Walking Dead, making the decisions you’d have wanted to see and be your very own Governor!
Every mission is about survival, creating supply chains, carrying out rescue missions and anything else you may need to do in order to keep your comrades safe from the flesh-eating terror that’s plaguing the outside walls. Keep friends in the back of your mind though, because if you should run out of friends to band together with, then you’ll have no more lives and the game over really will be permanent.
Missions are dynamic, only opening up in response to your choices, a death in the group or other events that pop up in the process. In every new area there are view points that can be scaled, allowing you to mark out areas of interest on the ever constant hunt for supplies and decent vehicles. Everything here however has a really tough sense of risk and reward. While you may be desperate for medicine, is it worth the possible loss of friends and anything else you may expend on the journey?
As you would imagine, cash means nothing. While money talks in today’s society, in the wake of a zombie apocalypse, it’s silent. Reputation is all you have, meaning completing missions and helping out strangers is the only means of developing reputation points which can then be spent on supplies or facilities such as beds, an infirmary or spotting towers.
Overall State of Decay is a Zombie game like no other!
The world is alive in a really meaningful way, offering you player driven stories that consistently delight and surprise, often with how invested you are in each character and may not yet have realised! Sure the dialogue isn’t perfect and the graphics still not the most amazing you’ll ever see, but with this new release you’ll get a vastly improved, 1080p experience. The interfaces have been cleaned up and simplified and with the inclusion of some great DLC, this game will have you eating out of its palm for hours on end!
This is easy one of the greatest open world games created, you’ll celebrate victories for your camp and grieve the loss of key characters all while making the tough decisions that only you can make. I enjoyed every minute!