State of Decay: Zombies Are Still Cool

Someone will definitely say that games and movies about zombies are mainstream nowadays. Well, I kind of agree with this but only to some extent. You see – movies about zombies are a lot like movies about love – they never get old (unless they are really bad). Pretty much the same happens with the zombie games: The Walking Dead, Day Z, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, Plants vs Zombies and other titles have become popular because of the zombie thing and game mechanics. Being inspired by their popularity, others try to do their best and catch up with the zombie idea. For better or for worth – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But being in a good mood I am willing to introduce you something that turned out to be pretty great even despite all the critics and “buts”. So, with no further ado let the friendship begin: please, meet the State of Decay – another zombie game with another set of creative ideas.

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State of Decay has been introduced in 2011 but back then it was supposed to be a totally different title game with totally different goals. Also, it was firstly known as Class 3 and not as State of Decay. From the very beginning a great responsibility was put on the shoulders of Undead Labs as far as they were supposed to release a multiplayer MMOPRG like game with lots of fun and multiplayer goodies. Though, a year a after the game’s name was changed and so was the basic idea. First of all, Class 3 turned into the State of Decay and second of all – it was announced to be a single player game only. Ye, ye – I know – it sounds ridiculous and boring. Besides, when compared with the Day Z survival, which, by the way, is one of the best if not the best survival zombie adventure shooter, the State of Decay sounds like a total failure. Though, don’t rush into making any conclusions until you give it a try (at least a virtual one).

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Oh, and just before I move any further, I also need to mention one thing that I do find important. The State of Decay was supposed to be an Xbox 360 exclusive release, but after a little thinking and, probably, because of the Microsoft Studios patronage, this zombie survival will also be available on PC. But hey – why will? It already is. You can get both Xbox and PC versions for like 15$ on Steam and Xbox Game Store. Sure, it is optimized for the console far better than for PC and if you want to enjoy it on your Microsoft beast, you might wanna get an Xbox 360 compatible controller. However, I managed to launch it without one and by all means – it is optimized more than just great.

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So, what is State of Decay? It is a decent answer to all the other zombie games which are great but offer no single player. Just forget about the State of Decay for a moment and try to name a few 3-rd person zombie games that offer you an interesting, probably a bit GTA like gameplay with lots of weapons, social contacts, sometimes even Sims related things (like, building a house, growing a garden and else). I bet you can’t answer this question but you know what – you don’t have too. Cause after you wonder the web looking for answers, you will definitely come to the mysterious and horrifying (in a good sense, of course) combination of three words: State of Decay.

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I am pretty sure that both the developers and gamers have had pretty rough time with the game because most of the promises didn’t meet the expectations. Though, despite all that the State of Decay is certainly believed to be an ideal single player zombie horror game. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely somewhere around this definition.

Probably, one of the most unexpected things about the State of Decay is that the game has no heroes. Instead of the team with characters, player receives a group of people who interact with each other and help out in the most outrageous and tough situations. From the very beginning they hide in a church with the sleeping bags scattered on the floor and with the barricaded windows to protect the people inside. You can play with whomever you want. The only requirement is his trust. If the person believes in you and trusts you because of your actions, you can easily make him a part of your gang and discover the world whatever and whenever you like. But, as in a real life, if your companion dies, you won’t be able to get him back and he will turn into a zombie. In a cruel apocalypse like this you need to understand that rules you’ve been living by so many years before can’t be applied now and if someone gets eaten by a zombie, you do not treat him like a human anymore. It might not sound pleasant but it is what it is.

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The best thing I enjoy about the State of Decay is its console character. Unlike the already mentioned Day Z, it is not that hard and happens to be less serious. Killing zombies is not a complicated challenge and even if you have a stick in your hand, you will be able to take down a few walkers without problems. Probably, some gamers won’t like it at all but trust me – it does not spoil game’s spirit. Just on the contrary – it makes zombie apocalypse a bit more fun to play. If you need a comparison, just try to imagine ARMA and Call of Duty. They are both great but one is for real and one is for fun. The very same principle can be applied to the State of Decay: it is less realistic but still creative enough to enjoy every kill. Now I sound like a serial killer.

State of Decay and its Gameplay

This, probably, is one of the best parts. The world is pretty open and big enough to explore. You can interact with lots of things, pick up different items, scavenge for food and help people out. Sure, the number of things is not as various as in the Day Z, though – it is good enough to enjoy the gameplay without any discomfort. What I do like is that you can deal with zombies with pretty much everything you can find be it a stick, a hammer, a gun, a saw or even your fists. In other words, if you are surprised by a walker, you can attack him anyway without running away and survive the battle pretty easily. Though, if you come across the horde, things might get pretty tough. For that matter you can use a shotgun or a rifle but the better it kills, the more sound it produces and you do not want that because, as we all know, zombies always follow the sound and in a blink of an eye you might find 10 or 20 running at you with pretty cruel and unpleasant intensions to taste your brain.

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What I also like in the State of Decay is the way you can kill zombies from behind. Sure, you will have to approach them in stealth, hiding in bushes or crouching, but that is a part of the gameplay and only makes everything fun to watch. Sure, none will stop you from running all over the place and shooting zombies on your left and right – that is your call. After all, in some situations this is the only strategy that works well and if I were in a real zombie apocalypse situation, I would have definitely done that once in a while. But do you know what else can be done? Something that is a lot better than shooting zombies and killing them softly. All you need is a car and… now, that’s pretty much all you need. Get inside and drive as much as you can or until you’re out of gas. Driving over zombies is really fun and turns the pessimistic and unhappy world of the dead into a fun roller coaster. But again – this will drag zombies from the nearby houses, parks and fields, so be careful. After all, your car is not a tank and sooner or later will lose a wheel or will simply stop going. In other words – safety first.

What Should You Do in the State of Decay?

In the State of Decay you can do lots of things but there are certain rules that you are recommended to follow. For instance, rather sooner than later you will appear in a barricaded building. As far as you do not play alone and happen to be responsible for other people, your task is to make this building (be it a house or something else) as protected as possible. So, use materials to barricade the doors, windows and set traps to be notified of the approaching zombies. As you progress through the game, you should behave as a real survivor and invest as much effort in supporting your facility as possible. With time you will be able to organize watch towers, plant some seeds to provide your team members with food and do lots of other social things. I have to admit – at first I thought that this was going to be boring and will be a lot like Sims, but if you treat it correspondingly, you won’t find it too complicated. After all, you can always ask someone to watch after the garden and enjoy your personal time and space killing zombies and gathering stuff.

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But, if there comes a moment when you get bored and your present facility does not satisfy for any possible reason, you can always find another house and create a new fortress. That is relevantly easy to do and technically, all you need is resources – lots of resources. It is nice to have fortified facilities all over the map in the State if Decay but again – this is not a must and if you are OK to leave at your old house or consider spending the precious resources on something else – that is your call. Though, you will get pretty bored after a week spent at the same place and I am pretty sure that the bright idea of changing the place will definitely cross your mind.

Conclusions. Kind of.

When you think about it, you will get to the point and realize that all the ideas offered in the State of Decay form a decent game for more than a tolerant price. For 15$ you get a zombie survival with lots of opportunities and possibilities. It is fun to play and easy to enjoy. Though, there are a few downfalls you need to know about. No, they are not critical and even if I mention them further, I am still going to recommend this game in all the possible ways. But, we have to be honest with each other, right?

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The very first issue is pretty early build of the game. The State of Decay happens to be in its beta. But, the good news is that this early beta touches only the PC version that you can get on Steam. As for the Xbox 360 – all good in the hood. Just download it and enjoy the best of the State of Decay.

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The second bad thing about the game is that some missions are kind of boring. The trick is that no matter if they are related to the main story or simply happen to be side missions, the whole set is kind of a roulette. You randomly get some tasks and try to solve the puzzle. Even despite the fact that there is a plenty of options like saving other survivals, searching for food or killing zombies, sooner or later you will still get bored. But a bit. Just a little bit.

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So, if you are looking for a great story – the State of Decay is not the place where you will find one. In this case you should definitely try out The Last of Us or the Walking Dead. But, if you are into survivals with fun and entertaining gameplay, the State of Decay is one in its kind and you won’t be able to find anything alike. At least, for now. So, if you have some spare time and 15$ to share – the State of Decay is your kind of game.

Author: Oleg Repetskiy

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