There’s nothing worse than having a zombie apocalypse interrupt a vacation.
This what the player is greeted to as the game throws you immediately into a dire situation. You’re not sure what’s happening or why, but the urge to find answers and survive in this forest of lurking death is one of the main forces that keeps driving you forward. State of Decay, formerly known as “Class3”, is an open world survival RPG where players attempt to survive during a zombie outbreak and death is ever-present. I’ve spent some time running, sneaking, and yes, even dying through this downloadable title from Undead Labs.
So what do I think? Click below the jump for my initial impressions…
State of Decay finds the world in a state of emergency as a zombie plague has broken out pushing humanity to the brink. Taking place in a more rural setting, you’re able to go around securing outposts, scavenging for supplies, rescuing fellow survivors, and eventually bringing together a colorful and well written cast of characters. Being able to switch between them also helps you care about the character your developing and makes you feel like you took a right hand to the gut when one of them dies. And they will. State of Decay makes sure to remind you that death is not only possible, it’s right around every corner. Certain choices you make whether to relocate your group of survivors, run out for supplies, or even whether or not to accept a new person into your group is one that could have far-reaching consequences down the road.
Gameplay wise, the biggest hurdle for me at first was getting used to the controls. Spend some time with them however, and it starts to click. Traditional attacks are controlled by the X button, with jump assigned to A, interacting with things Y, and defense/crouch assigned to B. Crouching can be toggled by holding the B button which is nice as at that point you don’t have to keep the button held down. Attacking and sprinting (LB) drain a characters stamina meter so knowing when and what to fight is critical. If you run out of stamina while getting attacked, you’re in deep trouble. It’s a mechanic that helps fuel that feeling of tension and dread. Do you attack a lone zombie and risk being spotted/make noise or do you wait for it to pass by and continue on your way? These type of decisions give the game another tactical sort of feel to it not to mention that death is permanent in this world. Risk losing all the progress you’ve made with that character by not playing smart.
It’s also refreshing playing a game where you’re just a normal person, not armed to the teeth, not flexing superhuman abilities, but someone who has the same limitations as a person in real life. Items such as cars and weapons degrade over time helping to eliminate that overpowered feeling you’d get by finding a great gun. Character skills are also developed similar to games like Fallout or even Skyrim. The more you perform an action, the higher your skill becomes. Characters seem to be pretty diverse as well with some being better at certain things than others. Taking a low stamina character out on a scavenge raid isn’t probably the greatest idea.
Graphically, the game is solid but nothing that will push the system to it’s limits. Not that it’s a bad thing as that’s not really the point. The visuals get the job done and the world you’re placed in is very believable. I’ve seen some texture pop in but ultimately nothing that really kills the mood for me. For me, State of Decay so far is more about the gameplay and less about how pretty it looks.
One of the biggest pluses for me about State of Decay is the sound design and soundtrack. Playing with surround sound really heightens the experience as you suddenly pick up a whole slew of interesting and sometimes creepy noises. Sneaking around a devastated campsite and hearing the groans of a nearby zombie or the sounds of footsteps is as thrilling as it is terrifying. Plus, how can I not mention Jesper Kyd. Yes, acclaimed composer and a person who has crafted some of my favorite soundtracks is on board and lending his unique and powerful musical style to this game.
So far there’s been a few technical issues that have cropped up during my playtime but nothing that really hinders or derails the experience. I’ve seen a lot of clipping going on where zombies would be standing between the inside and outside of a building such as a tent. It looks a bit odd obviously, but it didn’t prevent me from using a stealth takedown. Outside of that, there was a bit of an issue with the frame rate as it struggled during the first moments but the issue seemed to resolve itself fairly shortly after that.
Overall, I’m having a ton of fun playing around in the world that Undead Labs has created. Mixing an open world with a RPG while still managing to craft that sense of fear and tension could not have been an easy thing to pull off. From what I’ve played so far, they’ve nailed it. I hope this can sustain itself through out my journey as right now, I’m hooked.