State of Decay is a third-person downloadable game that was released on Xbox Live Arcade earlier this month. It’s a new zombie apocalypse game, and it costs twenty U.S. dollars, but is it worth it?
At the beginning of the game, you return to the mainland from a three week fishing trip with no cell phone or e-mail. As soon as the game starts, your friend is attacked by “cannibals,” and you have to fight them off. As the player, you must learn what happened to the town and learn how to survive in the new world. Let’s move into what’s hot and what is not about State of Decay to find out.
Combat in State of Decay is simple. There are melee attacks, power attacks (one hit kills on damaged enemies), and guns are available too. The basic combat feels similar to another third-person zombie game, the first Dead Rising. There are two attack commands: One is a basic attack and one is contextual which results in either a simple push or a fatal blow. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but thanks to the contextual finishing attacks and zombie gore, it’s very satisfying. To keep the game from being a button masher, each character has a stamina bar. Attacks and sprinting use up the stamina bar. When you’re out of stamina, you’re at the mercy of any nearby zombies. This adds a layer of tension and strategy to taking on a horde of zombies.
The game isn’t just about fending off zombies, it’s also about building a group of survivors. As you build up your group and bond, you unlock the ability to change characters. You can also fortify your base of operations. For example, you can barricade windows to keep zombies out. As you progress through the game, you’ll meet many characters and have the opportunity to increase your home base’s manpower. As people join your group, you can find them in the community doing chores or simply interacting with one another.
Atmosphere and scarcity
In the game world, weapons aren’t easy to come by. Supplies are limited, so you have to scavenge for supplies. You’ll have to be mindful about your melee weapons and vehicles because melee weapons deterioate with time and vehicles become damaged as you run down zombies. This adds yet another layer to State of Decay’s tension. At least the game provides a workshop at which to repair your melee weapons and cars.
At the beginning of the game, zombies come in small packs and you can sprint from place to place without encountering many of them. As the game continues and the infection spreads, more zombies become present and hordes begin to form. One of the most panic inducing situations I’ve run into was while returning to my home base low on supplies, the game told me I alerted a horde. I ended up having to struggle through the battle with my bare hands!
State of Decay has some RPG elements too. Each playable character has different stats and each character levels up individually as you progress. For example, leveling up cardio will increase your stamina, fighting increases your fighting, and finishing moves increases your powerhouse level. There’s inventory management, too, requiring you to decide how many bullets and how many weapons you should bring versus healing items.