State of Decay Reviews

AuthorReview
Alcoholic Socks
50,395 (31,664)
Alcoholic Socks
TA Score for this game: 604
Posted on 06 June 13 at 15:10, Edited on 06 June 13 at 15:18
This review has 57 positive votes and 8 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Will this game keep you alive, or put you in a State of Decay?

Story:
The story in State of Decay is fantastic, it consists of deaths and rescues, mystery and exploration it will keep you hooked from the moment you pick up the controller. It starts of with you up in the lakes of Mt.Tanner doing some fishing, or at least that as the plan. Your friend (Ed) is attacked by a zombie and from that moment they don't stop coming.
One of the ways the games develops it's story is with a permanent death feature, what this means is if you are killed all of the progression and relationships you have made with that character is gone and because the game gets you so attached with each character you really feel something. Especially knowing it wasn't a scripted death and it was all your fault.

There is a down side however, the story can progress really slow at times. While waiting for the next mission to be available (which can sometimes take hours) you can only do side-quests, which are a mix of the same 6-7 missions but done in a different way each time. This can cause the game to be really repetitive.
Rating: 4.5/5


Game play:
The game play in this game is great. You have many ways to do each mission. You can either run in and kill all the zombies, or you ca try to sneak around them and get what ever it is you are looking for and still avoiding a fight. If you take option one there are two weapon types to choose from; Firearm and Melee. While there are different types of both weapon choices they all feel the same. The combat feels a lot like Dead Rising, very smooth and you can tell how much damage you have inflicted with no need for a health bar.

One of the more ambitious parts of the gameis the permanent death feature (as mentioned earlier) if someone dies, they stay dead causing you too lose all of your progress with that character. Which can cause many dilemmas in your game, do you want to run in and kill all the zombies to do the mission faster, but risking your life, or do you sneak around, take more time and keep your health? This can also mean one moment of madness will end it all for you.

The final main feature of the gameplay is the man management section of the game. While playing the game you will stumble across survivors, some of which will want to join you at the safehouse, should you choose to let them it can cause problems for everybody else. If your safehouse is to small people will complain and move out. If you do not have enough beds or food people will become angry and fight each other. There are many ways around this.

The first one it to get a bigger safehouse, sometimes when exploring you will enter a building and it will be a 'Potential Safe House' it will say at the top left the minimum number of survivors and how much material you need to move in (Material is found while doing missions or scavenging for items). You can move in and make enough room for everybody! But of course that wont solve everything, you still need beds!

In the menus there is a home option, from here you can upgrade your safehouse. You can add things like : Bedrooms, Gardens, Kitchens, Medical Room, Watch Tower and more. Now depending on your location depends on what is better. While every place needs bedrooms, not all places need gardens. You can also set traps at your outposts in this menu. Outposts can be made in any building once it has been fully searched for supplies, they allow you to access the saferooms cache of equipment.
Rating: 5/5


Graphics:
The graphics are not the best, but what can you expect from a debut game limited to the XBLA limits on a budget? That being said they are still nice. Nothing to amazing, nothing terrible.

There are a few graphical bugs in the game though, with textures not showing up and people changing colour for a few seconds but nothing to major.
Rating: 3.5/5


Achievements:
The Achievements in this game are of a normal difficulty but take some time to complete.
When you finish the story you will have around 20.30 done. They are not all story related but they are easy misc. achievements that would be hard to miss.
The other 10 are more tricky. When you beat the story you can load up the save and start just before you start the last quest meaning you do not have to start a new game to get MOST of them.
The annoying part about the final achievements is most of them require some form of grind to get them, whether it is get so many resources to build every building or completing 50 missions with the same character.

You see how I said 'MOST' in the last paragraph? Well that was for a reason. there are 3 missable achievements that are obtained through your choices in side quests.
The 3 I am talking about are
State of DecayArrested DevelopmentsThe Arrested Developments achievement in State of Decay worth 16 pointsSee things through at the courthouse.

State of DecayGun ThugsThe Gun Thugs achievement in State of Decay worth 17 pointsHelp the Wilkersons resolve their differences.

State of DecayHome on the GrangeThe Home on the Grange achievement in State of Decay worth 16 pointsPlay matchmaker for Quentin and Becca.


Also the guy you start with is capable of getting
State of DecayDouble DeadThe Double Dead achievement in State of Decay worth 30 pointsPerform a hand to hand double kill special attack.

I only met one other survivor who was capable of doing it. Take that how you will.
I won't explain how to get them here in fear of spoilers (also that's what guides are for) i am pointing them out just so you are aware of them.
Rating: 4/5


Sound:
There isn't a noticable soundtrack to this game. You hear the occasional creepy song when you are out in a field in the night alone to help set the tone but apart from that nothing.

The voice acting in this game is great! Every actor played their character perfectly, but sometimes dialog can be said in the wrong places. But that is a developer problem.

The zombie sounds are good too, each zombie (yes there are different types)have their own distinctive sound and it helps add to the general feelof the game when you hear it while being all sneaky ninja. It can make you scared too if you can't see it, but you hear it.
Rating: 4/5


Final Thoughts:
For the price tag of 1600MSP it is a fantastic game. I know that is a lot for an arcade game but this really does feel like a retail game, it is good all around and if it was on shelves for retail price no one would have a problem. Also this is the debut game for Undead Labs, If they do this on their first go around the next game should be epic! Do your self a favor and buy this game, you wont regret it.
Given 4_5 stars by Alcoholic Socks
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Whatever00069MS
171,324 (121,069)
Whatever00069MS
TA Score for this game: 414
Posted on 07 June 13 at 08:31, Edited on 08 June 13 at 10:13
This review has 26 positive votes and 8 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
State of Decay
Price: 1600MSP
Developer: Undead Labs

Now, before I get to the review I will say I HAVE NOT completed the game, and I will keep out any spoilers from my time with it thus far. Mainly this will be about the gameplay, graphics, sound design and overall feel of this game. I do not usually review with numbers but I will give a final score at the very end. I won't add anything about achievements as I'm sure most of you have already looked them all up. I'll leave it for you to decide whether the achievements are to your liking. I will try to update this review as patches come out and the game improves.

For those of you looking for a specific aspect of the game here's an easy table of contents to help navigate my long review.

0: Tutorial

1: Gameplay Mechanics
1-1: Melee
1-2: Runnin' and Gunnin'
1-3: Explosives, Incendiaries & Bombs
1-4: Characters
1-5: Driving
1-6: HQ & Outposts
1-7: Missions
1-8: Enemies
1-9: AI
1-10: Game Map

2: Graphics
2-1: In-Game
2-2: Character Models
2-3: Lighting

3: Sound Design
3-1: Voice Acting
3-2: Dialogue
3-3: Music
3-4: Sound Effects

4: Overall
4-1: Final Score

5: Side-notes

6: Updates


Now, on to the review!

Tutorial
There isn't really much of a tutorial, so to speak. It drops you in taking on a few zombies and drops a few hints the more you play. It will give you the bare essentials, such as how to stealth kill, crouch, attack, etc. But for the most part the game lets you figure things out on your own. It feels like a shout out to the old school games that had no tutorial at all. Instead, letting the player figure out all the gameplay mechanics themselves. It's a breath of fresh air compared to most tutorials now that hold your hand so hard it's turning purple from lack of blood circulation.

Gameplay Mechanics
As anyone who has played video games will know the mechanics and feel of the gameplay is absolutely essential. If a game has bad mechanics or it doesn't quite feel right, you know you're not going to have as much fun with it. But State of Decay does not disappoint. For an XBLA game it controls extremely well and has tons of options for play-style. You can brawl, melee or shoot your way through the game, and thanks to having the ability to switch through any characters you have recruited you can try everything out. Or, if that isn't to your tastes, you can specialize every character. Nothing is forced on you so if you want a character that carries tons of grenades to take out zombies, then you can! The variety is astounding.

As for the actual mechanics, they are just as diverse. Level up certain skills and you can choose a specialization. Some of them are more stealth oriented, others are for the brawler or if you like to run away lots (which you will have to do regardless).

Melee:
The melee combat has a great selection of moves you can do, tap X to swing your melee weapon, tap Y to do a front kick to give yourself a bit of space, or tap B to dodge. Then it gets interesting. As you level up and unlock new abilites you can then hold LB and press X, Y, B, or A to do special moves. These come in handy when taking on larger groups of enemies. The only real problems I've had with melee combat is the AI sometimes gets in your way and prevents you from attacking a target. But this is a very minor gripe because chances are you'll have more than enough zombies flanking you to keep your attention. The combat is fluid and I've had no real problems attacking the zombie I'm aiming for. You also have a stamina meter which you need to keep an eye on. Sometimes it is better to retreat or try to avoid combat all together. The stamina meter runs out from just about everything, from sprinting to attacking, to climbing walls or barricades. Now, the fun part: Melee weapons! There is an insane amount of weapons in this game. I've gotten everything from a table leg to a broadsword. The classification for these weapons are either light or heavy and blunt or edged. Blunt seems to give you more knockdown power, which in turn lets you dispatch zombies on the ground with a quick tap of LB+Y. Whereas edged weapons take off limbs, making it harder to get grappled by enemies. The light weapons are great for one-on-one combat as their quick strikes and stun-lock the enemy and heavy weapons are great crowd clearers.

Runnin' and Gunnin':
Now onto the shooting mechanics. I've had one single problem with the shooting as it feels a little bit too twitchy at times and the crosshair seems slightly too large and obscures the target. But this is easily overcome by leveling it up and unlocking a "snap-headshot" ability, the more you level, the further away it will lock on. This makes it much easier to deal with swarms of enemies in CQC. It's not meant as a quick-kill attack as you have to be aiming near the zombie for it to lock on. You can also attach supressors after you make some, but these aren't permanent and will decay with use. Supressors are essential in towns or heavily populated areas. Trust me, you do not want to fire a rifle in these areas without a suppressor.... The variety of guns is just as good as the melee weapons. I've gotten shotguns, rifles, assault rifles, handguns, revolvers and smgs. It may seems fairly unvaried at the beginning of the game, but the further you push and explore the more you'll uncover. Now, scoped weapons don't do what you think they would (at least none that I've encountered). Don't expect to be looking down the scope picking off zombies from a hundred yards. All the scopes seem to do is when you click the left stick while aiming, it zooms in slightly. This will give you a bit greater range and accuracy, but it's not the best. I truly wish they patch this and add an actual scope to look down.

Explosives, Incendiary & Bombs:
Again, another area I wasn't expecting a lot of variation in, but State of Decay continues to surprise. As with the previous weapons explosives and incendiaries are diverse and cover a large portion of combat. You can carry around grenades which make tons of noise, but are very effective. The incendiaries are a bit more quite and the flames spread, but it takes a little bit longer to burn zombies to a crisp. Or you could always lay down some mines. Maybe you want to put down an landmine to maim and entire group of zombies or maybe you'll want to put down a bouncing betty, blowing the heads off some and dwindling their numbers. Each category of this has different aspects and choices. There are always lots to choose from.

Characters:
On to your character(s). Throughout the game you'll recruit survivors by doing special tasks for them and eventually earning their trust. You'll want to be careful with this though as too many survivors with you will deplete your resources extremely fast. Each character you meet will be unique from the rest, though there will be similarities. Some are useful, others.... Not so much. When you eventually build up your HQ you'll need a cook, mechanic, etc etc. These people are vital for the continuation of your survival. Each person also comes with a set of traits. Each trait will help you decide if their usefulness outweighs their uselessness. Some may be autocratic and get into fights often, dropping your overall moral. Others may have redeeming traits geared towards preventing fights from happening. Unfortunately, character customization isn't implemented here (I'm hoping they will add it soon). You start off with the same characters every time and you will eventually become attached to them as you mold them to your playstyle, but had there been an actual character customization I think you'd become attached more quickly and become more devestated if they die. Oh! That reminds me! Yes, there's permanent death! If the character you love is getting swarmed by zombies and they take too many hits, they'll die. You have a bit of a chance to salvage them because every time they "die" you can heal them up with a permanent loss to health and stamina. Be warned, they can only be healed a certain amount of times, maybe 2 or 3 if you're lucky.

Driving:
A lot of people have complained about the driving, but I've loved it. I find that the majority of games get turning radius abyssmally wrong, always feeling like the turning radius is far, far too wide. For this reason alone I praise the driving. And while it isn't as good as racing games, the driving is tight and precise, allowing you to fit perfectly between obstacles while zombies are running after your rear-bumper. This actually plays a fairly interesting part in the game as well. Noise is a big factor and the faster you drive, or the more powerful the car, the larger the radius is for the noise. Sometimes you'll have to barely touch the accelerator as you pass behind a horde, other times you'll race as fast as you can away from a horde, pulling in more zombies that come running out because of the noise. The differentiation in cars is noticeable too. Muscle cars will speed along at the highest speeds, trucks will lug themselves along but will sustain more damage, the tiny hatchbacks will maneuver very easily allowing for quick dodging. You can even open your door to spread the area of attack at the front of your vehicle, allowing for massive damage on groups. All in all, I believe the driving is very underrated.

HQ & Outposts:
State of Decay has a lot of interesting mechanics when it comes to establishing your home base. These range from how many areas you can build in at any given HQ, to how many parking stalls you have around your base to how many outposts you can have around the map. All of these are fairly unique as I haven't seen them implemented in many games and the games they were implemented in weren't nearly as fletched out as here. You'll constantly have to gather materials for your base. These include: food, building materials, ammo, fuel and medicine. Building materials allow you to build up special buildings around your lot and customize them as well. You'll have to weigh which buildings are essential and what you can forego. You never have enough room for them all, so plan accordingly (protip: always have an infirmary). As you bring back items and materials you can store them to gain influence. Influence here is the game's currency and every time you put an item in storage it will become available to the community and your influence will increase. A little warning, every time you put an item in storage you'll have to pay to retrieve it. Outposts aren't very well explained in this game and you'll have to learn the ropes as you go. After clearing any given house/building you have the option of making it into an outpost (by pressing down on the d-pad while standing in the building). These will keep the area around it relatively free of zombies. You can upgrade them to have traps for the hordes and they'll always have a storage system linked to the main base. You can place outposts over the entire map, but you'll only have a limited number to place depending on which HQ you've decided to call home. Some people may have outposts everywhere across the map whereas I prefer to keep them close to home, lest any zombies wander into my compound. The entire point of the game is about catering to tons of different play-styles.

Missions:
As for the missions, they're fairly generic, but are varied enough that you won't get bored for a very long time. These range from defending allies while they build up fortifications, to clearing out an infested house, to brokering a trade between factions. It's all fairly varied and there's always something to do in the game. The frequency of this might put off some players as some survivors may go missing if an objective isn't completed, making you always choosing between exploring and helping your people stay alive. It does add a bit of a dilemma to your choices and this is something I definitely enjoy. Constantly making decisions, whether I think my ally will survive while I find more ammo for my people, or gunning straight for the objective as my favourite character might go missing if I don't. It adds a very subtle irritation to the game that I believe was intentional, and very welcoming.

Enemies:
(These aren't spoilers, necessarily. But in case anyone doesn't want to know what types of zombies will show up throughout the game I've decide to put hide these unless you want to know)
*** Spoiler - click to reveal ***


AI:
The AI isn't bad, but isn't exceptional either. Sometimes zombies will funnel through a single entry way and other times they'll flank you with military precision. It's safe to say it makes for interesting gameplay because you won't know exactly how they'll react.
As for the allied AI, they're about the same. Sometimes they'll block the doorway and you'll have to force your way past them, but they're fairly smart out in the open and will crouch down if you do. If they have a gun they won't use it until you fire the first salvo, they'll take that as a cue to open up. You can actually be fairly tactical with the allied AI, if you knock a zombie over and turn to face the next threat, they're fairly reliable in making sure that other zombie doesn't get back up. The great thing about the allied AI is that they'll alert you to zombies that might be wandering too close, a great mechanic and well implemented. When you're close to your base, and have zombies chasing you, the ones at the base open fire with extreme "head-shot only" precision, then charge like Spartans when the zombies get over the fence. Overall, competent AI, but still a few bugs here and there.

Game Map:
This is a huge place to explore. While it may not be as big as triple A free-roaming games, it allows you to enter and explore all of the buildings. The variation is satisfying as there are forests to explore as well as small towns to large towns, campsites and ruins of old buildings. The map is the perfect size to feel open, but not overbearing and small enough to keep things interesting.

Grapics
Personally, I don't hold a game to it's graphics. I've played many games that had very simplitic graphics and either still looked gorgeous or the gameplay and story were more than enough to overlook the simple style. I won't delve too deep into graphics because I believe that's the last thing people should worry about in a game.

In-Game:
While State of Decay isn't made with the CryEngine or the Forstbite Engine, (especially considering it's only about 2GB), State of Decay is fairly visually appealing. Texture pop-in and lighting glitches are quite common in this game and are being addressed by Undead Labs, so try not to let this bother you too much. The framerate chugs a little bit throughout the game and only really becomes an issue when you take on a masive amount of zombies.

Character Models:
Character models are well done, the animations are smooth and the models look decent. Nothing really to write home about, but still very good for an Arcade game.
Zombie models are varied and you won't notice too much repition as you slay them. The main issue is with the special zombies. I understand why they all look the same (as you want to recognise them easily from a distance), but I was hoping for a little bit of variation.

Lighting:
The lighting feels very atmospheric in this game. Nightime makes you feel terrified as you sneak around town, while sunrise/sunset cast long shadows and hints of the sunrise/sunset. Your flashlight also helps with the atmostphere as you turn it on to look around darkened rooms and immediately flick it off when you realise it's attracting zombies. Overall, the lighting is done very well, minus a few lighting glitches.

Sound Design:
Some games have great voice acting, some have great soundtracks and some just suck. The sound of a handgun firing seems to have gone downhill lately. There's no power behind these guns. The most abysmal gun sound design that I've played recently was Aliens: Colonial Marines. The assault rifle's sound was horrendous to the point I almost played with the sound muted. Needless to say, this plays a very important part in State of Decay.

Voice Acting:
This definitely surprised me for an Arcade game. The voice acting is extremely well done. I haven't encountered a single character that didn't sound as if they didn't belong. I haven't encountered any repeat voices for characters either (the only exception being the police and army). Everyone sounds their part and reflects their character traits through their voice. Again, very astounding for an XBLA game.

Dialogue:
The dialogue is good as well. But sometimes certain lines will be repeated over and over again as you return from foraging or complete the same side-quests. This isn't so much a problem as this was a budget game and the variety already included surpasses many triple A games.

Music:
As for the music, there really isn't much. Which works for this type of game. There may be the odd, eerie song playing as you enter an abandoned building or walk through an empty field, but it feels like the Devs wanted you to hear the actual sounds of the game over the music. Hearing a horde of zombies pass by you as you hide in a bush feels much more engaging than a soundtrack. It makes the game feel a bit more organic. Definitely a welcome change compared to orcestral-heavy games now.

Sound Effects:
This one is simple: The melee weapons sound brutal, with a satisfying array of sounds for different weapons. And the guns sound exceptional compared to other games. The weapons feel like they really pack a punch in State of Decay. Hearing a silenced shot rip through a zombies head, or the brutal slash of your broadsword cleaving a zombie's arm off are all very, very appeasing to the ear.


Overall:
This is a fantastic XBLA game. State of Decay packs in more content than most games I've played in the past few months. And while it may be a little slow to start, it will keep you enterained for hours as you explore every inch of this organic world. There are a few minor problems with the framerate and graphical glitches (these issues are being addressed in the first patch), none of it detracts from the originality and innovation this game provides. The level of customization is astounding, surpassing most triple A games. State of Decay is definitely a contender for my personal "Game of the Year".

I've given this game a 4.5/5. With a possible 5/5 when the patch is released.

Feel free to ask any questions, or give any freedback (positive or negative) in the comments.

As a side note:
-The timing for certain things in the game are very odd. Some things run by an in-game clock, whereas others run by a real-time clock. I'm not sure which ones run by which, but as soon as I figure it out I'll report back.
-I never review the story unless it's bad. If I have nothing negative to say then I want you to discover the story as it unfolds, with no preconceptions.
-There is not confirmed DLC for State of Decay, but if it gets enough recognition then the developers will most likely release some. So please! Get this game! At least download the trial.

UPDATE:
-It sounds as if tons of content wasn't able to be added to the game due to time restrictions. These include: Bows, Generators, Coop and even more awesome stuff. They packed as much content in as they could and got the game out. The framerate issues, clipping and phasing through walls are all due to the memory limit imposed upon them. They are all being addressed immediately and the first title patch is already on it's way.
-After browsing through the forums and reading posts by the moderators it sounds like this game is doing extremely well. Only behind Minecraft as the fastest selling XBLA title with 270K sales across platforms. The Devs are also hinting at DLC depending on the sales. Co-op is also a major point of theirs, but none of this can be green-lit until Microsoft gives them the go ahead. The more sales they get, the more chance for DLC and coop. Also, even though there is an insane amount of weapons in the game already, there is a blog post about (Brant's) gun collection. This post lists off every gun in the game so far and hints at more coming, hinting at possible weapon based DLC.

As always, Good Hunting
-Whatever00069MS
Given 4_5 stars by Whatever00069MS
There are 7 comments relating to this Review | Please log in to comment on this solution.
Cornerscout
201,989 (139,780)
Cornerscout
TA Score for this game: 604
Posted on 10 June 13 at 04:58, Edited on 10 June 13 at 05:01
This review has 20 positive votes and 8 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
This review was originally posted here.

Day 16: I get a call over the radio asking for help clearing out an infestation. Things just won't stop popping up, almost like the zeds have some sort of hive mind. I heard a report that this infestation was a specifically nasty one; a screamer and big 'un have claim over this warehouse. Loading up the AR-15 and an extra magazine, I head out to respond to the distress call. It's not too far of a walk from our base, only a few blocks to be precise. Not many zeds stand between me and this warehouse, so I can casually jog and not have to worry about getting spotted.

As I arrive, I notice Alan hiding behind a parked car. He notices me at about the same time and calls me over. "I could really use some help here!", he shouts. The zeds must have heard him and not me because now they're sprinting at the car in full force. A few zeds aren't a real threat, but this commotion has caused the infestation to overflow. In what looks like some form of defense to protect the screamer, the zeds start pouring out of this building like bees defending a hive. As the local sheriff, Alan has a bit of experience with his weapons and starts beating zeds down with his police baton. I am running at this point, and some of the zed stream takes notice and branches off towards me.

Since the start of this disaster, I have become fairly proficient with my machete so I am cleaving heads off with ease. With every swing a zed falls, and yet they keep coming like a hydra regenerating limbs. Alan has begun to panic and starts firing shots to help mow down the flood. At this point we both know we're in trouble. We begin to fall back as we see it: The big guy. As if answering our panicked thoughts, he starts shoving zeds out of the way to get to us. Well, "shoving" isn't quite the word for it. He's more like a train knocking things out of his way.

Alan and I both standing on a pile of bodies like kings of their respective hills, we know that we can't just fight the big guy. Alan is slightly closer to the swarm than I am, so I have to make a decision. In about a split-second, I decide to try to save Alan instead of letting him die. I pull out my AR-15 and unleash hell on the zeds attacking him, walking towards them at the same time. In a flurry of blood and bullets, entire groups are dropping dead at Alan's feet. As I get to him, so does the big guy and we both get tackled. For some reason the big guy decides to focus his anger on Alan, punching him into the ground until Alan goes limp. Still stunned, I start firing ruthlessly into his back in hopes of calling him away to no avail.

Before I know it, he has lifted Alan with one hand above the group of zeds, and we both know what is about to happen. One hand on his torso, one on his legs, the big guy starts stretching Alan. I've emptied my assault rifle so I pull out my 1911 and open fire, quickly emptying a clip into the big guy. Alan starts screaming as he is torn in half, and his remains are tossed into the group of zeds like birdseed. I have no choice but to turn around and run away, unless I want to experience the same fate.
The recently released State of Decay has not only become the second-best selling game of all time on XBLA, but it has blown all of my expectations clear out of the water. The story above is one of the many experiences you may face when playing this amazing game, and I am not exaggerating. As a child, I always had this fantasy of the perfect game for me, and State of Decay has damn near fulfilled that fantasy to the T. Many sleepless nights have been spent playing this game since release, and I am still going strong.

The Seattle-based developer Undead Labs and legendary composer Jesper Kyd teamed up to "create the definitive zombie-survival game for gamers", and I feel confident in saying they have done so. Between the many hours of gaming and the fantastic soundtrack, State of Decay sucks you in to the gaming experience so well that you will forget to eat or sleep. While not flawless, the game could easily become one of the best and most realistic zombie-survival games ever made.

Unlike games such as Left 4 Dead or Dead Island, State of Decay brings a level of realism that I have never seen before. Instead of an entire game about gunning down zombies, Decay has the player focus on actual survival predicaments such as running out of food or sleep deprivation. While dealing with the constant threat of zombie attacks, the player is required to forage for supplies so friends can eat, buildings can be maintained, and perimeters defended. At the same time, characters need to rest or they will lose stamina or become angry due to sleep deprivation. Meanwhile, other survivors are out foraging for your base, or are struggling and asking to join you.

To be honest, I nearly gave this game a perfect 10/10 score. There are an immense amount of positives that keep the game interesting and constantly moving. After my initial 8 hours, I had learned so much that I just decided to start a new save, and even now I am still learning new things. Some of the great and addicting things that keep the player coming back include:

The game doesn't rest. Finding this out the hard way was pretty rough, especially when survival conditions are barely favorable to begin with. After a night of much-needed sleep, I turned the game back on to chaos. Morale was extremely low because, while I had been resting, three of our community members had died either from zeds, starvation, or sickness. Five members were missing from an expedition that undoubtedly went wrong, and two were sick with no signs of recovery. This was both a terrifying and really awesome discovery, and I look forward to completing the game so I can come back after a week and see what happened.

Depletable resources. For a survival game, the idea that resources will eventually be gone in the entire game is terrifying. I have been meticulously clearing out buildings when apparently leaving resources there causes some glitch that makes them respawn, so I am scared I will run out of resources if I play for too long. I am not really sure whether I should take advantage of this glitch or not, considering it could add to or take away from the whole survival feeling.

Skill doesn't really matter. My preferred character has maxed out stats in every category, and yet if I make mistakes or act reckless, I can get murdered just as easily as an unskilled survivor. To me, this makes a game truly difficult and fantastic at the same time. Having this knowledge means that I never get cocky, and never take big chances. For instance, I will not clear a room in a building without having a window to jump through or a door available in case I get swarmed. It adds a new level of realism and terror to the game.

After a 14-hour binge of it, I found that I only have a few issues with the game overall. I realize the game is only a few days out of release, so I really shouldn't be complaining at all since some glitches are always understandable. I feel that I have to bring these problems of mine to light, however. These are things that I have not only noticed, but have complained about out loud while playing:

Story missions. After playing for hours on end clearing buildings and conquering missions, story missions completely stopped spawning. Figuring I just had to be patient, I proceeded to play for 4 more hours without a single story mission. Apparently this is a pretty common problem, which is pretty disheartening considering this game is so addicting. The only known fix so far is to turn your game off and come back the next day, which for some reason forces missions to pop up or glitches to fix. After doing that, I turned my game on today to one story mission being available, and then two hours later none had spawned. This has brought up a unique problem: Eventually I will run out of resources after waiting for so long, considering I already have nearly an entire city cleared. Despite this really cool issue, missions not spawning needs to be fixed.

Rucksacks. Anyone who has played an hour into the game knows how annoying it is that only one rucksack of resources can be recovered at a time. Despite the overwhelming amount of realism in the game, it is unbelievable that the ability to transport rucksacks in a vehicle was overlooked or overruled. I like that resources are scarce; I don't like that I have to make five trips across the thousands of meters of map to get to a single bag at a time. It should be possible to toss a bag into the back seat, or several bags into the back of a truck. Hell, put a limit on it that isn't realistic, I don't even care. Being able to transport only two bags at a time would be better than what we have now.

Special zombies. Despite being an overplayed card in zombie games, I actually like the specials in Decay. They are all decently realistic, like the screamers attracting other zombies or the SWAT zombies literally being zombies that were SWAT members in their (recently) past life. I think it is safe to say, however, that everyone who has played the game hates the big guys. They are a realistic idea and definitely preferable to the Tank, but far from realistic in a fight. To date, I have only managed to kill two of them, and both took entirely too many resources to kill.

Car physics. I can imagine programming car physics into the game is tough, but good lord. There are three cars in the game that actually drive fast, and the rest of them drive really slowly. The worst problem is when in a car, moon gravity is apparently activated. The smallest potholes and speed bumps will launch your car a few feet into the air. Running over a zombie could lead to your car bouncing and flipping. My personal favorite is how you can drive backwards right over some things, like fences and stairs, but driving forwards even the smallest rocks stop you dead in your tracks.

Infestations. These things flare up faster than herpes and cause seemingly endless amounts of frustration. Living in the warehouse, I managed to set up outposts around town that form a safe area (the white bubbles) in a huge circle around my base that looks like this. The safe area probably stretches hundreds of meters out from my base, and yet infestations still cause me problems somehow. Constant "There are too many infestations" messages cause morale to drop faster than I can recover it, while there is only one known infestation on the map and it is on the other side of the county. Fortunately this is being patched soon, so this issue is more of just a warning to readers that are seeing this before the patch drops.

Overall, I rate this game a 9.7 out of 10 based on a personal rating system. It mostly lost points because I am near the end of the game and story missions refuse to spawn. Even with the initial launch glitches that can barely be called glitches, I strongly suggest buying this game if you like realistic survival-horror, zombies, or DayZ. I typically don't return to games after completing them, but I will most likely be playing this game through a few times even after a completion.

State of Decay can be bought on the Xbox Marketplace here for 1600 Microsoft Points, and if you don't buy it you're a fool.
Given 5 stars by Cornerscout
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Danny Dubs 86
341,890 (199,697)
Danny Dubs 86
TA Score for this game: 604
Posted on 16 June 13 at 05:09
This review has 12 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
Originally posted on my blog at http://takeaimandgame.blogspot.com/

A little over 17 years ago, Resident Evil made survival horror a mainstream gaming genre. As the underlying technology has advanced and games have become more sophisticated, I’ve gotten more and more excited about a true survival game, one that focuses more on staying alive than the classic horror elements that usually accompany them. I imagine a game with RPG elements, as the initially out-of-shape protagonist “levels up” while developing the skills necessary for surviving the post-apocalyptic world. Many games have captured those RPG features quite well, but I’ve never seen those features embedded effectively in a survival game.

Until I played State of Decay.

State of Decay is a true survival game, where gathering supplies is (almost) as important as fighting off zombie hordes. Members of your ragtag group of the living will hone their skills in the process, becoming more proficient fighters, marksmen, scavengers, and all-around athletes as they struggle to survive. It’s a really neat system, as you’ll have to make time to find more food or medical supplies between excursions to eradicate particularly heavy zombie infestations or make deals with neighboring groups.

It also features a particularly interesting (and I think realistic) emphasis on the community. There’s not really a main character per se, but rather a group that evolves as new survivors are brought in or old members are torn apart by the undead.

This setup leads to one of the most exciting features of the game: as you control a character, they will eventually get fatigued and taking excessive damage leads to more permanent injuries, both of which reduce that character’s effectiveness. A fatigued and/or wounded character needs to take a break to recover, which can be accomplished simply by switching to another active character for a time.

Characters will also bring specialized skills to benefit the whole team; for example, a good cook can prepare better meals for better bonuses (assuming you have the food supply), and someone with medical experience can help treat the wounded more effectively. Combined with the characters’ gradually improving skills, this feature sets the stage for the game’s focus on realistic and challenging survival.

Another consequence of the group-centric play is the fact that a character’s death is permanent, and you might even need to take a mortally wounded ally to a secluded spot to prevent them from becoming a zombie. To hammer these impacts home, the game automatically saves your progress and doesn’t give you the option of maintaining multiple save files; a character’s death is immediately saved and can’t be undone without restarting the game completely.

Unfortunately, the biggest flaws in the game come from an incomplete application of the challenge of survival. First off, with the right items, it’s possible to prevent a character from ever becoming fatigued, so you can run around with the same dude for days with no repercussions. Furthermore, as a character’s skills reach their highest levels, he or she will become incredibly efficient at slaying zombies. As a result, the last third or so of the game abandons the tension of sneaking by a group of zombies to loot a convenience store, instead allowing the player to eliminate all zombies in the area with ease. It undermines what I’d say is undoubtedly State of Decay’s strongest feature, which is terribly disappointing.

The emphasis on community also falls a bit short because it fails to capitalize on emotional tensions. Despite a generally well-written script and great voice acting (I’d say that one of the primary characters is one of the best-presented characters I’ve seen in a game), the characters are surprisingly unfazed by their friends and loved ones dying. If you lose a character, you’ll hear a few bland platitudes, but none of the emotional breakdowns that I’d expect.

To be fair, these facts are only disappointments because the game does so well with so much – the survival-based gameplay is compelling, the characters and their interactions are realistic, and it’s generally a clever game. It just doesn’t hit all the high notes, and the last 6-8 hours of an 18ish hour campaign get awfully repetitive.

As for some other details: State of Decay won’t blow you away graphically, but it doesn’t distract from the gameplay and it does have a few nice animations (watching characters jump into the back of a pickup, for example).

Sound quality is pretty darned good, too, with zombies sounding appropriately squishy, and phenomenal voice acting, as previously mentioned. One complaint on the sound is a relative lack of voice actors; with a constantly-evolving game world and random new characters appearing at times, it’s no surprise that voices will be reused, but it seems like there are a total of four actors for the entire game. It gets a little tiring.

The open-world setup is used quite effectively, giving the player the freedom to explore the world as desired. New infestations and neighboring strongholds will appear from time to time, so it doesn’t feel like a stagnant world; it’s a little different every time you play. The randomly generated side quests aren’t terribly interesting (they’re always effectively “get this thing” or “kill zombies here”), but they’re pretty fun until the fourth or fifth time you’re asked to do the same thing.

State of Decay’s Gamerscore is pretty easy to achieve. As far as I could tell, there’s only one achievement is missable despite not sounding like it should be (“Badass,” which seems to require you to complete 50 quests with the starting character, not any character), but that can be earned within a few hours of starting a new game if necessary. Everything else can be completed without too much extra effort, assuming you complete missions as they pop up and you pay attention to the achievement requirements. In principle, the game can be completed in less than 20 hours with one playthrough, but a few hours after completing the story will likely be enough to net any achievements you may have missed.

State of Decay is an exciting game with a lot of promise. The first game I’ve played that uses RPG elements to provide compelling survival-based gameplay, it’s an interesting and enjoyable game. It has its flaws, but I think it’s a proof of concept for true survival games. I’m really excited to see where this genre will go in the future.

My Rating: 8/10 – great.

(For more info on my rating system, including overall stats, see http://takeaimandgame.blogspot.com/p/reviews.html)
Given 4 stars by Danny Dubs 86
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iAmTheTot
80,960 (52,488)
iAmTheTot
TA Score for this game: 604
Posted on 11 June 13 at 00:48, Edited on 11 June 13 at 00:56
This review has 12 positive votes and 3 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
A Zombie Apocalypse Simulation

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State of Decay is a highly anticipated Xbox Live Arcade game developed by Undead Labs, and backed and published by Microsoft. As an open world zombie apocalypse game with subtle RPG elements, the game has eagerly been compared to various other zombie titles and mythoi already out there. You may or may not have heard comparisons drawn between it and The Walking Dead, Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, or Dead Island. But is it really anything like those?

First and foremost, apart from having zombies, not really. The closest comparison out there right now is probably Dead Rising, but even that's too different to compare for me. What you get with State of Decay is much more like a zombie apocalypse simulation, but delivered to you in a third-person action-adventure manner. The game focuses strongly on resource, time, and person management – three things that would be utterly priceless in such a situation.

The game starts off with you controlling Marcus (a natural born leader, his character card informs you) and his friend Ed, who is already getting bitten by zombies as the game begins. You're immediately called into action to save him with a sturdy branch you have handy. Marcus and Ed have been on a get-away, unaware of the events taking place in the fictional Trumbull Valley. Needless to say they're rather shocked when they come back and have the population looking like something from a horror movie. A succinct interactive tutorial teaches you how to fight, run, sneak, and it's not long before it's teaching you how to rummage through backpacks and cabinets for precious goods.

Scouting the perimeter
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It also isn't long before the game introduces you to more survivors holed up in a “home.” Homes are exactly what they sound like – a semi-safe haven, a base of operations, and a gathering point for everyone in the same community to band together. These survivors welcome Marcus and Ed as one of their own, and the game really begins. From now on, you won't just be playing as Marcus, but as anyone whose trust you've gained, able to switch to any such character as long as you (or the character you want to switch to) are not in the middle of a mission.

And so, what now? One thing: survival. Might sound simple at face value, but as I said before State of Decay tries to deliver a simulation, not just an action experience. Everything in the game is finite – except zombies, of course. The game focuses heavily around managing your home base, which requires ample stocks of food, medicine, and ammunition. Supplementary resources are materials and fuel, which are vital for constructing new facilities around your home or rigging traps to ensure a wider safe area around your home. Subtle RPG elements like leveling up skills and traits may help you decide who you want on guard duty and who you want going on a scavenger run.

Resources don't grow on trees, either. You're going to have to get down to the nitty-gritty of pillaging people's homes and stores, or trading with other “enclaves” of survivors. Ah, but here's where time management becomes an issue. You'll also be getting calls on your radio for various types of main and side missions: you may be called to see what the army is up to, you may be asked to hunt down a dangerous zombie that is threatening the safety of your home, or you may need to go help out a fellow survivor that got themselves into a bit of a jam. You could, of course, refuse to check these things out... maybe things will work out on their own, right?

Incendiaries 101: Alcohol + Rag; Better stock up.
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As for things working out on their own, a key feature of the game is that it continues to simulate the evolving, random game world even if you're not playing. If you play for a few hours one day, then load that file a day later you will come back to find things slightly different than you left them. Sometimes, not much, while other times it could be quite different. A wide variety of random events can happen while you're offline, some good and some bad.

For example, just because you're gone doesn't mean your home's need for supplies stops. Your community consistently needs supplies in order to survive, so while you're gone they'll continue to consume them to stay alive. Worry not, however, as the AI will try its best, working with the tools at their disposal, to replenish their stores even while you're gone. But thing's done always go well. When you come back, you may find that some people have gone missing, or been injured, or that some of your fellow surviving neighbours didn't make it, or that someone has gotten sick. Indeed, surviving in a zombie apocalypse can be scary and tough stuff.

Undead Labs has made it explicitly clear, however, that they by no means intend to keep you playing this game 24-7 for fear of your people dying to simulation. The amount of time that is simulated is decreased exponentially over real life time. If you're gone for a day, about a day is simulated. If you're gone for a week, much less than that is actually simulated. And if you're gone for over a month, less than a week will have taken place in game still.

The game seems beautiful graphically at first glance. As the opening scene pans out you're overlooking a lake in a forested camping locale. It looks great for an open-world XBLA game. Until you notice some of the glaring issues. There are some things – like blocky shadows – I'm willing to surrender to XBLA limitations. But glaring technical shortcomings are hard to ignore, such as frequent texture pop-in and frame rate reductions, which can become downright awful while driving. On more than one occasion I have driven into an object that had not even loaded into my game yet, costing me precious hit points on vehicles which are finite in a decaying world.

There's nothing more effective than a headshot, but guns can be loud and ammunition is scarce. Every shot counts.
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Luckily these issues are not nearly as harsh when outside of vehicles, traveling on foot, which you'll probably be doing plenty of, as cars are noisy, and zombies love noise. A very satisfying feature I found was how zombies are constantly drawn towards noises. Cars, guns, and explosions are obviously loud, but even things like rummaging through drawers can create noise that may attract zombies. Your noise level is constantly displayed in the minimap, giving you a rough radius of how far off zombies can hear you (or any noise). This can also be their undoing, as noises serve as excellent and reliable distractions.

Speaking of sound, though, the game's voice acting is pretty lackluster. The game emphasizes randomization to a degree, and one of the things that's often randomized are survivors scattered across the world map. They're generated with their own skillsets, but there's only so many skins and soundboards you can fit into a 1.8gb game. Not only can it be kind of silly when two characters with identical voices are talking to each other, but even the few characters with unique voices generally offer uninteresting voice-over and dialogue. This leads to things like hearing your radio operator tell you “There are still some things to do out there” more often than you care to hear.

State of Decay definitely packs a powerful gameplay punch. It delivers an interesting and different approach to zombie games, mixing an element of strategy with action. The time and resource management elements in an open world environment are pretty addictive and really shine here, but there are more than enough nagging details and glaring, atrocious technical limitations that put this game in an awkward position between arcade title and retail title. It's almost as if it's a little too ambitious for arcade, but not enough to merit a retail release.

Achievements
The achievements in State of Decay are about fifty-fifty. About half you should have no problem picking up in normal gameplay, whereas the other half may require a little bit of working off the beaten path or accumulating specifically for that cheevo. But even still, as an arcade title, the achievements aren't too hard to gather up.
Achievements never affect the score of a game and are included by reader request. Only the categories below influence the final score.

Summary
Graphics: Obnoxious texture pop-in and frame rate issues mar what is otherwise a visually pleasing open world environment.

Sound: Sounds effects are great from guns to guts, but the voice acting is less than impressive and sometimes downright tedious.

Plot: Admittedly not the selling point of the game, what you get here is a bare-bones uninteresting story with few if any innovation. Don't buy for a riveting drama.

Gameplay: Strong and addictive features stand out in what I'd like to call a “zombie apocalypse simulator,” where open world exploration and resource management are stressed above all else.

Length/Replay Value: For an XBLA title, the game actually shines in this department. After the end of the plot, the game still enables you to play your file until every resource is dry if you'd like. While the map is static, resource locations and survivors are randomized with each game, encouraging multiple playthroughs.

Yea or Nay? If you've been looking forward to this game and following its development but were waiting on reviews to pull the trigger, I'll be bold enough to say you won't be disappointed. If you don't know what to expect of the game, though, I'd recommend checking out the trial before putting down so many MSP on this title.

Final score: 7.5 out of 10

I claim no right to the pictures used in this review, and they will be removed if requested.
Given 4 stars by iAmTheTot
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TheCroydonBFG
182,062 (137,883)
TheCroydonBFG
TA Score for this game: 604
Posted on 20 June 13 at 13:32
This review has 8 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
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Ecstacy in Decay...

Zombies. They’re everywhere. Well, not literally, we haven’t quite reached the zombie apocalypse, yet, despite the Rolling Stones perhaps suggesting evidence to the contrary. However, over the last 5 or so years, the amount of zombie games has increased exponentially, moreso off the back off success of games like the Left4Dead series, and TV shows like The Walking Dead. Some of the games has done things very right like Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead, and some of the games have done things very wrong like Terminal Reality’s, uh, The Walking Dead.

I’m sensing a slight trend here.

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Indeed, the popularity of The Walking Dead TV series and the comic series that it is based upon has opened up zombies into the minds of the public everywhere, much to the glee of hungry zombies everywhere. However, State of Decaytends to draw it’s influences from the Arma2 mod, DayZ (not to be confused with the rapper, Jay-Z) and to a lesser extent, the Dead Rising series. It has the survival element of the former, and the open-world, time-limited questing and exploration. Also, once a character dies in State of Decay, they are dead. Gone. Finito. Zombie chow.

Indeed, unlike most modern games, once a character dies in State of Decay, they are gone permanently from the rest of the campaign. While you can have multiple playable characters in your group at one time (the most I had at one time was 15 characters) losing one of these can be a blow if it’s a character that you have spent a good amount of time levelling their attributes up. And should the unthinkable happen and you lose all of your characters, then that’s it. Game over. It’s just like gaming in the eighties all over again.

But what brings on all this death and decay? The plot of State of Decay isn’t going to win any awards. It’s the typical ‘zombies are upon us but no-one knows why or how’ approach to things. The game starts off in Trumbull Valley, a heavily forested area, with the main town of Mashall. Whether this based on Trumbull County in Ohio isn’t really known, but given that both Trumbull Valley and Trumbull County are stated as being near the Canadian border, this is entirely possible. You start off by controlling a character called Marcus, a store clerk who is also an athlete with a love of hiking, who has just returned from a week of isolation on a camping and hiking holiday with his friend, Ed. They return from their self-imposed isolation to find scenes of death and chaos and the dead walking the earth. From this point on, it’s a focus on their survival, the people they meet and their attempt to escape from Trumbull Valley.

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With State of Decay, while the storyline is the overarching device that moves the game along, it is completely possible to just focus on survival and not worry about the storyline missions, since these have no time limit and if you ignore them for hours, nothing will happen (unlike Dead Rising, which has a finite amount of time to complete most missions) but there are various other time-restricted missions that will include rescuing other survivors, friends and allies that if you don’t do have a chance of having that character killed or infected - the latter of which if it occurs to one of your group, then you have the option of taking them to a secluded location to end their life before they turn. There are also missions that involve clearing infestations, roaming zombie hordes, and scouting out areas to name but a few. You can also spend your time searching the town for various resources that you will need to keep your group going including food, medical supplies, construction supplies (otherwise your home area will fall into disrepair), and fuel so that you can keep the cars that you find running.

The key to your survival is your home base. Once you get past the opening segment of the game, you start off at a church that has been turned into a home base by the survivors you meet up with. In order to accomodate more survivors, you can either upgrade the living areas of your home base by scouting out materials for construction, or by scouting a bigger home base, of which there are several locales suitable for home areas including large houses, or warehouses. These too can be upgraded to include libraries for research, bigger storage areas to hold more resources, gardens to grown your own food, and a medical area to treat the sick and wounded to give them a greater chance of survival (and stop them turning into Zombies.) As well as your home base, you can make any building into an outpost - this will give you additional daily resources at your disposal (dependent on what you find at a locations), plus each outpost will be set up with traps that can take out hordes of zombies that wander too close, plus Zombies cannot spawn in this area. These elements dictate your morale, influence and fame. The more influence and fame, the more resources you can take from your home base and allies. Take more than your influence though, and this will lower your trust and morale. This gives a broader feeling of strategy that will ensure the survival of your whole group, as well as the character you are controlling at that time.

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This brings me onto the character control that was touched on briefly earlier, aside from one NPC, every survivor that you can recruit into your group can be controlled… and can die. All of these characters have various attributes and traits that will decide whether they’re better at shooting, fighting, finding supplies, sneaking and whether they’re better at being a leader, a follower, or if they’re liable to flee if the going gets rough. If the latter happens, you will get a mission where you can choose to go and rescue them. If you choose not to, then they make their own way back to you. Or they might die.

You will need to switch between each character fairly often, since characters will fatigue after exploring for a period of time which will lower their stamina and hinder their ability to fight. Stamina can be restored by drinking energy drinks or eating snacks, but you will still need to switch every now and again. The same if your character gets injured, then you will need to return to base and swap characters. Spend too long out there, and you run the risk of being overwhelmed and killed, no matter how high your characters attributes are.

The passage of time also plays a part. While during gameplay you can see the change from day to night, if you log out of the game and return 24 hours later, things will have happened. Your group will have attempted to out to find supplies, your existing supplies would have been used and restocked depending on your outposts, and your surrounding neighbours may have made themselves known, or have met an untimely end. So even if you’re not playing, then stuff is happening.

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As is evident, State of Decay is a broad game with a lot of layers and a lot to think about, but once you’ve got into it, it all seems fairly natural. Sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming when you have incoming hordes, missing people, dwindling resources, and suchlike. But that’s the idea, it’s a survival horror game with the truest definition of survival. If you treat it like a Resident Evil game and stick with one character, then you won’t last long. But just because there are strategy elements to the game, that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in the combat department. There are a huge array of weapons that you can discover that are either hand-to-hand, guns, or thrown weapons like grenades and petrol bombs. There are apparently 99 different guns and 30 - 40 hand-to-hand weapons in the world to be found, although I only found a fraction of that. The melee weapons also have a lifespan on them, with them decaying and getting damaged over time, reducing their effectiveness and eventually breaking. But these can be fixed if you have the sufficient upgrades to your home base. The same applies to cars, which can also get damaged and you’ll often have to abandon them at the side of the road fairly frequently unless, again, you have the right upgrades to your base.

All of this makes for a fantatic, deep game experience that will keep you occupied for hours. But despite this, State of Decay isn’t perfect. There are some glitches that can be rather frustrating, such as the area being listed as being surrounded infestations and the appropriate penalties to morale that come with, although none can be found. Also, at times I had three or four characters missing from my group, which seemed a bit excessive. Plus, the pathfinding of people you are escorting can seem a bit hit and miss, although when it’s working like it should they do keep pace with your character very well.

Graphically, State of Decay does the job. It’s not stunning, and there is a bit of pop-up regarding textures, but it does offer a good sense of scale, and the environments are distinctive enough that you can start to figure out where you are without referring to the map. The zombies are well-animated as well, with some of the more unique types of zombies you’ll encounter being particuarly gruesome (I still prefer to run away from the feral zombies than face them.) Plus, the survivors all look different, and there’s no repeating of character models, which could have been an easy thing to do.

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The audio lends itself well to the game as well too. With the guttural noises being made by the zombies sounded authentic enough (using movies and TV shows as a comparison, I’ve never met a zombie myself) and the little noises that you hear when you’re exploring an area are enough to make you stop what you’re doing for a moment to make sure there are no hordes passing by. Plus, when you stop to listen to it, the music is particularly good, as you would come to expect from Jesper Kyd, whose CV also includes the Hitman series, Borderlands, Assassin’s Creed, and Darksiders II. The voice acting is decent enough too, while the game isn’t heavy on dialogue, there are nice moments between characters, with my favourite moment being when a character is returning to the base and the radio operator, Lily, asks ‘did you bring me anything good’ and the character replies ‘yeah, I got you a pony. But then it tried to eat me, so I shot it the head.’ It’s little moments like those that lift the game.

To round up, for me this is the definite zombie game and I probably didn’t even cover everything in this review. I had been waiting a long time for a game that actually puts you in a world where you need to survive and can just focus on survival. While I love the Dead Rising games, I always resented them a little as they made me barrel through the storyline due to the time frame without being able to properly explore. State of Decay introduces these time restrictions but doesn’t make them core to the main storyline, so adding an element of tension without needing you to sacrifice exploration, discovery and survival. Despite it’s flaws, I cannot recommend State of Decay enough. Yes, there are some minor bugs, but for me they were nowhere near enough to spoil my enjoyment. Plus, you forget the fact that it’s an Xbox Live Arcade title such is it’s quality, so it only costs 1600msp or £13.60 in real money. You could easily get your money’s worth ten times over if you bought this as a full price game. So, if you’re a fan of zombies, a fan of survival, action, horror and a little bit of strategy, then get this game and prepare yourself for a State of Decay.

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Positives

+ An open, vibrant world that feels alive (and dead)
+ Good variety of weaponry at your disposal
+ Permadeath creates a tense challenge
+ Plenty of places to explore
+ Excellent mix of survival, horror, action and strategy
+ Zombie lovers will adore this
+ Possibly one of the best Zombie games made
+ An absolute bargain at less than £15

Negatives

- If you’re sick of zombies, it may not change your mind
- The graphics can be a bit glitchy
- Pathfinding isn’t always the best
- Still needs a patch or two
- Permadeath may put some people off

Verdict: A zombie game with brains.
Given 4_5 stars by TheCroydonBFG
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Auld Magick
33,387 (23,771)
Auld Magick
TA Score for this game: 339
Posted on 07 July 13 at 03:37, Edited on 11 July 13 at 23:54
This review has 6 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Note: I have not finished State of Decay’s story, this review is of my first impressions.

I cannot get enough zombies. Perhaps it is a Freudian thing, which suggests I have a subconscious desire to bash peoples’ heads in; though I think it is because really good zombie games are rare. Let’s face it: zombies are not great antagonists; they don’t concoct elaborate schemes for our hero to uncover, or have inherent super powers to threaten him with, they don’t have intriguing personalities to contrast with the protagonist – they don’t have personalities at all. They are zombies. They shuffle aimlessly from one brain to another, biting and clawing, and their dialog consists exclusively of moaning. But they make good piñatas and that, to quote Manfred Mann’s “Blinded by the Light”, is where the fun is.

When State of Decay was announced, I was cautiously excited. An open world zombie game is something I have looked forward to for a long time, but after the video game abortion that was Dead Island, I did not want to get my hopes up. However, I am pleased to say, State of Decay is a great game; as good as I was hoping for it to be; the game I’ve been waiting all these years for.

The graphics are your standard 360 fare, but with noticeable pop in, especially when traveling by car. Character animations are a bit awkward and floaty when jumping, but are otherwise fine. Of special note are the Skyrim-style finishing moves you execute when enemies are on the ground; I laughed heartily when I leaped three feet in the air and headstomped a zombie to death in slow motion. The hits feel satisfying and the showcase finishes are fun. As a side note, these showcase moves seem to provide brief invulnerability, which is very useful and quite possibly a life saver when facing a crowd of zombies. The exterior environments are varied but on the inside most of the houses feel the same; the game could have used more apartment and office buildings and multi-floor houses. There is a day-night cycle in the game.

The sound is competent and while the music and effects do not stand out, it doesn’t distract from the experience either. The zombies sound like zombies; that is all that matters. Although the dialog is limited, the voice acting is mostly good. There is the occasional stiff or over-the-top reading but nothing that reaches Dead Island levels of bad, and the voice actors are thankfully distinguishable.

Gameplay is what must succeed for State of Decay to be a truly great game and without a doubt it excels. Unlike Dead Island, where I spent the first ten minutes riffling through dozens of suitcases for useless junk before dying to a trio of zombies I found out later I couldn’t kill, State of Decay drops you in the action immediately and allows you the option to bash your way to the next objective or sneak there. When I finally made it to the church, the missions were sensible if a little too simple. Thankfully, there was no “Juice Box” mission and none of the survivors asked me to retrieve a teddy bear from a zombie-infested hotel. The missions so far have mostly been to aid other survivors, with the occasional “Let’s Go for a Walk” quest where you take one of your fellow housemates out to blow off some steam smashing zeds. You’ll come across the dynamic missions like helping a neighboring group of survivors survive a horde attack, but so far I’ve been too busy exploring and seeking out goodies.

As you complete various activities, whether it be questing or fighting, you will level up various skills. Honestly, the skills have not made a noticeable difference on the gameplay. Your reward for completing quests is influence, State of Decay’s currency, and is used to take ammunition and other supplies from the house’s storage locker. Of course, you may get all of these things and more for free by scavenging, it’s more fun because it’s dangerous, though I’ll expect you will bring much of what you find home. Why? Because if the survivors at your house leave or die, you won’t have anyone to switch to.

When Marcus, the survivor with whom I began the game died helping neighbors fend off a horde attack, I was stuck with only one usable housemate. As I played Maya, she got banged up and fatigued. Since the tired condition and injuries require real time to heal, I had to stop playing the game to give my gal a break. This mechanic added a real penalty for reckless play and selfishness; I like that, even if it was inconvenient for a time.

If there is one thing, however, that really bugs me; it is that melee weapons eventually break. You will find plenty in your travels, but I still do not like it. In a game where nothing short of zeds respawn and noise attracts other zombies, you will not want to use your gun very often, instead relying on things like golf clubs, bats and table legs. Being out and having your weapon break in the middle of a fight is a real concern. Theoretically, there should be nearly endless supply of melee weapons and while guns are plentiful, ammo is not, so you will be wise to avoid wasting it. Cars also smash up far too easily and there is not enough variety among them, but they handle really well and are great as a weapon of last resort. Adding semi trucks could have given the game a cool Maximum Overdrive vibe and added to the vehicular zombicide.

You are able to establish outposts. For instance, I created an outpost at one of the gun shops in town. Once you establish an outpost, there are traps to keep some of the dead away. Most importantly, however, they help lost survivors make it home, since your housemates go off and do their own foraging from time to time.

Finally, there is the sheer size of the game world. From farms to town squares, to wooded areas and open fields, there is enough to look at and explore for a long time. I do not know if there is a shopping mall, à la Dawn of the Dead, but it would not surprise me if there were.

I love this game. It’s addictive fun, the world is dynamic and alive – except for the zombies walking the streets – and it has just the right blend of RPG elements. It’s not too actiony or shooty and your decisions feel like they matter. This is the best zombie game I've played. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going back to play State of Decay some more.
Given 4_5 stars by Auld Magick
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Papa El Loro
249,537 (168,805)
Papa El Loro
TA Score for this game: 604
Posted on 11 June 13 at 18:37, Edited on 11 June 13 at 18:38
This review has 10 positive votes and 4 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
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State Of Decay is the debut game from Undead Labs. And what a debut it is! It will leaving you eagerly awaiting their next outing I assure you.

Story - Here lies the weakest aspect of the game in my opinion. There is a story, but not much of one. You start as Marcus returning from a trip only to find things aren't quite how you left them. You go through the game gathering supplies and meeting fellow survivors all while trying to figure out what happened and why the army aren't really helping. As the story develops questions are answered but you'll ultimately find it playing out at a slow pace to a unsatisfying finale.

Graphics - The graphics are pretty good for an arcade title, there is quite a lot of detail to the buildings and environment, especially when you pass downed airplanes and helicopters, really makes you feel like you're in the apocalypse. The zombie details are fairly standard but are more menacing looking due to their glowing red eyes. The 'freaks' are a unique group of zombies consisting of 4 different types which are similar to what we've seen in other games like Left 4 Dead. The graphics are overall very good and aid the overall feeling of the game.

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Sounds - I love the soundtrack to this game. I find that the soundtrack doesn't always work and it either ends up over powering the game or fails to help set the games atmosphere. That isn't an issue here. The soundtrack was composed by Jesper Kyd who also did music for games like Assassins Creed and Borderlands. The music stuck with me from the moment I heard the theme at the main menu. It compliments the apocalyptic experience perfectly.

AI - The AI varies in the game, the NPCs, who sometimes accompany you on missions or aid you in supply runs, can be a great asset helping keep zombies off your back as well as cracking plenty of skulls themselves. Other times I've had them stand there, doing nothing whilst I'm trying to kick a horde to death after my weapon broke. As for supply runs they can take a short time to reach the spot you need them to or they can take massive detours meaning they take forever to make the 100 foot journey. The zombie AI is pretty bog standard, you're never in any great danger so long as you're careful but if you find yourself on the wrong end of a horde or a feral zombie then you may be in a spot of trouble.

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Gameplay - Being a sandbox game there are numerous approaches to the game. You're given a lot to do and you need to divide your time carefully to make sure everything is running smoothly. You can choose which character to control from your camp. The story missions will pop up randomly and you'll be notified via a walkie talkie. They mainly consist of going on hunts or finding/ transporting survivors. In between story missions you'll be kept busy by having to bail your fellow survivors out of trouble or making trades or simply beating on some zombies. You'll also need to be looting supplies from the numerous buildings and campsites. You can find anything from guns and melee weapons to painkillers and distraction items as well as food, ammo, building materials and medical supplies for your camp. You'll also need to keep your camp happy by taking out down and depressed survivors and having a chat with them. You will also need to modify your camp to provide medical care, more sleeping areas, workout spaces and dining facilities among other things. You're able to level your characters up and unlock new abilities for them. You can choose where to set up camp out of several locations and you can turn almost any building into an outpost, which is a small safe haven where you can access your supplies. The way you play the game is largely up to you. You can sneak around, using distractions and avoiding attention or you can go in all guns blazing. The amount of choice is very surprising and you can loose hours without noticing if you're not careful.

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Achievements - I was slightly disappointed at how easy the achievements were on the whole. You'll likely get most of them while playing but some will take much longer and present more of a challenge like completing 50 missions with the same character. One achievement which deserves a special mention is: Ya Always Were An A-Hole Gorman. Which sees you going out in a blaze of glory when there's no other options left.

Replay Value - Being a sandbox game there is a lot of replay value to be had. I played through twice and on the second playthrough made it my own mission to loot everything and make sure I prevent every death possible. To the people who want it just for the achievements, it's easy to complete but you might want to hold off as 1600 msp just for 400 gamer score is a bit pricey.

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Summary - I was very impressed with this title overall. I loved that it was a survival zombie game as opposed to just cutting your way through hordes of the undead. I also loved the fact that no matter how careful you are, you can end up loosing survivors to illness as well as zombies. The 1600 msp price tag is more than fair in my opinion for a game of this size and quality. If you're a fan of survival horror games then this is for you. I for one can't wait to see what Undead Labs comes out with next time. And seeing as though it's a new release and it's a huge game there are some bugs/ glitches to watch out for. Nothing major but I had some cars appearing out of no where and zombies falling from the sky.

Any comments/ advice is appreciated. Please don't down vote without telling me why.
Given 4 stars by Papa El Loro
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Bonkekook
378,574 (234,130)
Bonkekook
TA Score for this game: 717
Posted on 10 July 13 at 01:19, Edited on 11 July 13 at 05:17
This review has 5 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
State of Decay, while being the title of an above-average arcade game, is also a good description for the zombie game "genre" as a whole. Zombies get thrown into almost everything now, and while I can always find a good laugh by running them over with my car or feel slight superiority by outsmarting a brain-dead pile of flesh, the games themselves have lacked originality. And State of Decay is a good, if flawed, first step toward changing that.

Just a quick note. I played this after the second patch that supposedly fixed many problems people had with the original release. So I'm reviewing what I played.

Flashback to November 19th, 2006. Chance would have it that Wiis were sold out in my local area. Having a ton of money and no Wii, I decided to purchase an Xbox 360 with Madden 07. When I got home, I spent the better part of the night and next few days browsing demos, one of which was for a game called 'Dead Rising'. Dead Rising may be my favorite new IP from the current generation. And the original had a "Survival Mode" that you spent running around the open mall, killing random psychopaths and eating the (limited) food you found. I loved the idea, and it's always saddened me that they never improved on that concept. The survival, to me, embodies the zombie apocalypse. I like the tense atmosphere of having to find food and shelter, and State of Decay picks up where the original Dead Rising left off.

You start the game on a beach, in the middle of being attacked by zombies. You fend them off, voice your concern and trek toward the nearby Ranger Station where you meet a few survivors. And this leads you into the story. The story itself is....well, it's pretty average. Without spoiling it, I did like how it ended. I didn't necessarily like what they did as much as I liked what they didn't do. With all of the zombie tropes in gaming, it was easy for me to see the Army, or the police, or other survivors, and say, "Oh, I've seen THIS before. Guffaw guffaw." But State of Decay didn't do a lot of the things I was expecting, and it really isn't about the story anyways. It's about the survival, and the story isn't all that important. In reality, it's a fairly short story, there only to provide some framework into what is going on in the world. And it does its job.

After the initial introduction, you end up at a "main base" of operations, where some local survivors are holed up. While your acceptance into the group is met with some criticism(from the typical jerk survivor), Lily offers you shelter and a place to stay. This is where State of Decay shines. Almost every building in the world is able to be explored, and each building contains "shining" objects(and some that don't shine) which indicate they can be searched. You can find anything from painkillers and coffee to guns and ammo to even one of the five major supplies you need(food, medicine, ammo, materials, and fuel). These major supplies allow you to survive the nights, and in excess, upgrade and improve your home base. A Watch Tower provides home defense, a kitchen allows you to cook meals, you can add a bedroom for more beds, there are a variety of options. My favorite was always the WorkShop because, when upgraded and when a tools expert occupies the survivors, your vehicles will be repaired overnight if parked in the designated parking space, and early on, you're going to want your cars fixed because its the simplest way to take out the zombie hordes that attack.

When allowed to leave your main base for the first time, you are given the ability to go anywhere(except the fairgrounds, which unlocks later in the story). Initially, this seems fun, but to first-time players, this might be the most challenging hurdle. The game bombards you right off the bat with information. You'll constantly have 4 or 5 missions popping up, and early on its difficult to know which missions are timed and which aren't. While some people have said that open world games like Skyrim overwhelm them and prevent them from playing, I found myself almost in the same situation early in State of Decay. I just didn't know WHAT to do. Your journal is a handy reference, but it updates so often that it because impossible to keep up with it. Plus, a few of the messages pop up repeatedly(I'm looking at you, Daily Fame Limit message) and it became a nuisance. You constantly get messages about killing Feral zombies(the harder ones), providing distractions, saving your idiot survivor friends....you can even radio in backup to pick up supplies you've found if you don't want to carry them yourself, but occasionally the runner who picks them up gets attacked and you have to save him or her anyway. Which leaves you both tired and forced to switch to another character.

Yes. One feature that separates State of Decay from the other zombie survival games is the ability to switch what character you are playing as. I've only had one playthrough myself, so I can't say how many of the characters change. But there are a few characters who stay the same, and a constantly changing world of survivors. You can save them through a prompt from Lily, or you can radio out and find them yourself. This is important, because while it probably is possible to beat the game using just Marcus, lengthy exploring causes your Max stamina to take a hit due to fatigue, so it's better to switch off and let characters rest and heal every so often. I switched between 8 or 9 different survivors on my playthrough, each of which slowly leveled up. Each survivor has stats that level progressively based on what action you perform. Cardio levels by running, fighting by fighting(of course), powerhouse levels from doing strong attacks(LB + Y, by default, I believe), Wits by searching things, shooting by shooting, etc. When you max out some of these skills, you are allowed to choose upgrades, like running while sneaking, a bonus to certain types of weapons(blunt, edged, heavy), the ability to do a double kill. They are nice bonuses, but they aren't really emphasized. If you don't pay attention, you might play the entire game without upgrading.

But switching characters has two problems. One, the characters you switch to are likely not as strong as the one you mainly use. It can result in your getting killed if you haven't been leveling all of them up(misjudging stamina, tiring in fights). Two, story missions, and conversations, feel weird when you switch. Conversations that happened with one character with continue with another. Early on, when you reach your first main base, you get introduced to the radio lady(I've mentioned her before: her name is Lily. I believe that's a character who is fixed). She gives you a tour of the place, and you sense a connection between her and the MC that you're controlling. But then you switch to a brand new character and it is like nothing has changed relationship-wise. She never had that conversation with the other character, but you're still great friends. It's not terrible by any means, just something I noticed that felt off.

The other feature that separates State of Decay is the dynamic world. Shut off your console and leave for a while, and you might come back to a dead survivor or an infested base. While not a terrible idea, it needed refinement, and thus we received two updates to fix issues with it. But the idea of a dynamic world is not a bad one. A real zombie apocalypse would be unpredictable. Some survivors might die. Though as long as I kept my supplies up for a day's worth, I never came back to a dead survivor. It really encourages you to make sure your base is secure before you stop playing for the night. And make sure your supplies and inventory are sufficient.

Your main base also has an inventory that is shared throughout the entire population. As long as your profile has enough influence, you can go into the inventory and take what you need. This probably won't be an issue. If you clean out buildings and take everything back, you'll end up with more influence than you know what to do with. You also have a Fame meter, but honestly, I'm not sure what it's purpose is. I never was restricted, as far as I know, by a lack of fame. And influence was never a problem for me either. So while it's an interesting concept, I'm not entirely clear what effect, if any, they have on the overall game.

But the game is far from perfect. It's fixed-budget origins and arcade release show heavily. Objects will occasionally pop in right in front of you while driving and the frame-rate chugs in vehicles. The game itself is crying for a Co-Op mode, something that was unable to be implemented due to budget and time restraints, according to spokespeople. I wasn't a fan of the zombie spawning either. There were plenty of points where a zombie would respawn in a spot I had just been, where there shouldn't have a been a zombie. And as mentioned above, zombie hordes spawn slightly too often early on.

A few of my issues have to do with the story progression and exploration. (This does contain slight spoilers about the final area)

The exploration is amazing, but I feel that they missed out on the final area. When you first arrive in the town, you cannot cross the bridges to reach the area to the North at the fairgrounds. But there's not really much there. The progression of exploration just ends. You start in a small camp with a Ranger station, make it to a small town, go to a bigger town and then to an unremarkable fairground and a few empty houses. It was quite a letdown after spending so much time exploring and wondering what was coming next.

A few more miscellaneous complaints round out this review. Zombies should NEVER be invincible. This isn't just a problem in State of Decay, but when a zombie is sitting down and you know they are going to hop up when you get near them, you should be able to swing and hit them. And I'd say 80% of the time I swung early, they just jumped right through it and grabbed me. This is also a problem when they hop down over fences. Enemies should never be invincible for the sake of "powering up" or "playing dead".

But I criticize because I love. This was the type of game that I've been waiting years for. Countless games promising zombie survival(The Last of Us being the latest) that ultimately lied, and we finally have a game built around this mechanic. I lost an entire week to State of Decay, and I'm glad. There are already rumors flying of a sequel, and I am immensely looking forward to it. Undead Labs, I thank you for fulfilling a desire I've had for a long time.

True to TA form, I'm required to give a score, despite my protests. 9/10
Given 4_5 stars by Bonkekook
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Brad HK
176,752 (109,410)
Brad HK
TA Score for this game: 667
Posted on 08 June 13 at 00:50
This review has 10 positive votes and 6 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
There are some excellent long reviews here, so instead I'll do a (sort of) quick one for those with short attention spans like mine.

Just to state my biases up front - I love RPGs, I love open world quest/exploration games like Fallout and I love modern/future settings (vs sword & spell games). I don't care about graphics so much, don't really play multiplayer and technical issues like clipping don't bother me at all. Based on all that - this is by far my favorite game so far in 2013.

This is a completely addicting game that will have you running around the map to build up your survivor group, your supplies and your base to make it through one more day. There is no tutorial, no massive help to tell you what to do (there are hints and missions, but you can blow them off - to your peril...) - it's intense in that you just have to try and figure out as best you can, as if you were really dropped into a zombie apocalypse without any prep.

As alluded to above, the graphics are average at best and there are obvious technical/graphic issues (not crashing/freezing - but clipping, zombies showing up through walls, etc). There is no multiplayer and this isn't going to be interesting as a shooter.

So, if you loved Fallout, if you're more interested in Mass Effects' side quests than the main story, if you want an immersive experience - I think you'll find this the best value out there right now. If you hate running back and forth to the same area to harvest stuff, if you like super fast action, if you need multiplayer, or if graphical issues just make your teeth grind - probably best to skip this.
Given 5 stars by Brad HK
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