State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition Review
Officially released in 2013 on the Xbox 360 as a downloadable title, State of Decay makes its full-disk debut on the Xbox One and PC with the Year-One Survival Edition boasting a full 1080p experience, two DLC expansions (Breakdown and Lifeline) new weapons, and new vehicles. The Xbox One version claims to be the fully fleshed out experience the original release was supposed to be. At only $30, Developer Undead Labs makes it hard to argue that this isn’t a great deal.
Waking up near a river as a man named Marcus, you’re thrown into the world of the game and quickly taught how to fend for yourself. Combat is managed by both your health, your stamina, and also the dependability of your weapons. Weapons break in this game after too much use –a feature I’ve come to like in any zombie game. You can use regular attacks just swinging your crowbar, but once your character levels up in combat after a few days you can pick a weapon you are better at using (i.e. blunt, sharp, heavy, etc.). Not only that, but with Marcus’s “powerhouse” ability, you can body slam zombies and be creative in how you get rid of them. Before long, you run into your second playable character, Maya. I wasn’t exactly sure what her ability was, but I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to dig around and find out.
State of Decayis one of the few games that features permanent death, or permadeath. I could be playing for weeks with Marcus building up his stats like cardio and fighting, but if I get overwhelmed and Marcus dies, there is no getting him back. I have to start over with a new survivor. The game alleviates this by making your survivor get fatigued after being out and about for a certain amount of time, despite having a high cardio level. When you’re fatigued you lose a percentage of your max stamina. The only way to get it back is to switch to another playable character and let the fatigued character rest. That character can then build their stamina, fighting, specific ability, and so on. It works out well because after switching characters, you end up with a small team of people you are most comfortable surviving with. Even though Marcus was the best at fighting zombies, I got pretty accurate shooting guns with Maya. I got into a comfortable place where I would primarily use Marcus to scavenge for supplies and, when I had to switch out to Maya, I would take care of the infestations and hordes that would get too close to my camp site.
When you go out to scavenge you have to look out for five main things; food, medical supplies, ammunition, fuel, and most importantly, resource materials. Resource materials are the most important to find because when you go out to scavenge, you can set up outposts as safe zones in case you get too fatigued to make it home. If you set them up in specific areas, these outposts can supply you with the things you need. Set up an outpost at a grocery store, and every in-game day you’ll be granted food for the cost of one resource material. These resource materials are also used to build things you need in your base like a better medical tent, sleeping areas for survivors you bring into your camp, and building new things like a workshop for weapons. When you bring home supplies, survivors, or go out and find the occasional person who got lost, you are granted influence in your home base. That influence is also used to establish outposts, build things you need at home, and even determine which weapons you can take from the storage locker. If you have a lot of influence from supply runs they won’t mind when you take an ax or two with you to fend for yourself. Without influence you better get used to swinging a crowbar similar to the one you started out with.
One of the biggest issues I had with this game was the constant frame rate dropping. I can only count maybe two deaths because of it, but it was definitely noticeable and a problem. When you go to clear an infestation, zombies will come running out at you from almost every direction. Every time I was dealing with an infestation the frame rate took a huge dip. It was also a problem when I was driving. Driving through hordes of zombies made me feel like I was making a dent in the enemies’ numbers (even though I’m sure the game can never run out of enemies), but at one point I kept driving into a pole trying to turn around in the road. It was never worse than when I needed it to be consistent most. In closed areas like houses, if you are rushed by zombies coming in from every door and window and find yourself against the odds, it’d probably be best to run. That’s exactly what I did but the frame rate was so bad I couldn’t get through a window and unfortunately lost my best shooter, Maya. May she rest in peace.
For half the price of a standard disk game, you get quite a bit. There is always something that needs to be done. However, with the consistent frame rate issues, constant resource management, and the endless times you’re going to have to go out and find an absent minded survivor that has wandered from your home base for what seemed like literally no reason, it can get tedious. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty fun to have here. The variety of zombies, how you encounter them (like opening a warehouse full of them, or running down three hordes in a row), and even the thought that no matter how well you’ve built your characters stats they can always die, are all some of the best parts of this game and actually make you feel like you’re surviving. If you can get past the few big flaws this game does have, you can have some really good times in State of Decay.