Thursday, 14 May 2015

State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition

Since the TV series of The Walking Dead started zombies are everywhere, so much so that it already feels tired, overused and boring. I stopped watching The Walking Dead because of this. I forget which season I stopped at, but it was just after the point in which the Governor died. It was still a decent series, but the gigantic influx of zombie related films, games and TV series was just too much. Zombies just don't have their scare factor anymore, and have been relegated to the same place as the Xenomorph from Alien- a once feared creature that has been so used and abused that it's nothing more than a caricature of itself now. So when this latest game popped up on my radar, I can't say I was dying to jump into it. But in the hopes that zombies can be scary once again, I nonetheless got together some supplies, fashioned a pointy stick out of a table leg and ventured off into heart of the flesh eating horde.

Developed by Undead Labs and out now on Xbox One comes State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition, a game that, while not without a few hiccups and bugs, is an excellent stroll through a flesh eating, joy riding, limb decapitating apocalypse. This release is a current generation update of 2013's State of Decay, which was originally released on both Xbox 360 and PC. As expected, the main plot of State of Decay focuses on the sudden outbreak of a zombies. Taking the role of born leader Marcus Campbell, you must rally together other survivors and defend yourself against the ever growing brain eating hordes. Beyond the main game, State of Decay also includes the two previous main DLC packs that were released in 2013, Breakdown and Lifeline. Breakdown contains no story and merely focuses on survival, but Lifeline puts you in the role of the military, and aims to give you a whole new take on the outbreak and the need to contain it at all cost. However if you haven't played the previous version of State of Decay, you'd be advised to play the main game first, then Lifeline and then Breakdown, if you're looking for the best overview of the story.

State of Decay is a third-person open-world game, and one that, at its heart, places a massive focus on survival and interacting with other survivors. That said, on its surface it ticks all the boxes you'd want covered in a zombie game. There's a huge world open to you explore, a diverse array of vehicles to race around in, plenty of weapons for you to cut, slice or blast your way through enemies and, of course, legions of ghoulish zombies to kill. After all, that's the hook of any zombie game, and something the recent Dying Light got right as does State of Decay. The same goes for the array of missions available throughout the game. From the main game to its accompanying expansions, it all falls nicely in line with what you want from this type of game- wiping out zombies, rescuing survivors, scavenging for items, rinse and repeat. It's nothing new, but it ultimately delivers on giving the player a fun jaunt through the world of the undead.

But as I said before, State of Decay does manage to carve out some innovation for itself. The first of these innovations come in the fact that building and maintaining relationships with survivors is key, as without them it can often spell certain death. With each survivor found you'll need to build up their Trust meter, which in doing so will  obviously come in handy if they're the one covering you during an excursion for more supplies. Also, some survivors just don't get on with others, mainly due to their different personality traits. You'll need to end randomly generated conflicts, ultimately gaining Trust with one survivor, while the others Trust meter will go down. It's a great little aspect of the game that truly pulls State of Decay out of the typical zombie game formula, and into something new, interesting and fun to dick around with. Another nice addition to the game is its aspect of survival. This isn't a game where you'll go into a situation guns blazing, as in this world supplies are pretty low. So as you play State of Decay you'll need to keep an eye on bullet usage, medical supplies, injuries to both yourself and other survivors, and the overall morale of survivors. It all successfully makes State of Decay feel like a hardcore survival game, and with an absolutely fantastic and simple to use menu system in place, it's pretty easy to keep track of your progress without feeling overwhelmed by info.

Overall State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition despite having a few bugs, and not really looking very current-gen in terms of graphics, is a great, fun and exciting open-world zombie adventure. It blends innovation with the familiar quite nicely, and ultimately comes together to make a pretty great game.

State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition is full on brains and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

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