Before the madness of Helm’s Deep’s launch, I got a couple of nights in with State of Decay, Undead Labs’ zombie survival title that recently came to the PC. I’d been wanting to play this as a substitute for the PvP-centric DayZ. Heard good things, decided why not?
State of Decay throws you into the shoes of multiple survivors of a zombie outbreak in the American west. It’s not a zombie shooter (although you can shoot zombies) and it’s not an adventure game (although you do progress through a storyline of storts), but it’s mostly about building up a base, going out to forage for supplies, and dealing with zombies with limited resources.
I think the resources aspect is where this game shines. You not only have melee weapons (that break) and ranged weapons (that run out of ammo and draw every zombie in the ZIP code to you), but you have limited medicine, limited vehicle use, limited backpack space, limited health, and even limited stamina that dictates how much you can run and fight. It’s kind of terrifying to be in the middle of a fight and have your character get totally winded while there are still three zombies to take care of.
Because you can’t carry everything and because you want to build up multiple characters in case one gets killed (since there’s permadeath), you have to keep returning to base, swapping out characters, and generally raising the morale of everyone. If you like the whole Walking Dead motif — angry survivors that can’t seem to completely get along — then this is right up your alley. It’s a little forced and awkward sometime, especially in regards to the voice acting, emotes, and lip synching, but it does the job.
I haven’t quite decided whether or not this game has real depth to it. So far it’s certainly pretty fun to skulk around, pillaging houses while dispatching zombies as quietly as possible. I like that there’s a gradual unfolding of the map (you can get to a high place to “survey” possible locations to check out) and that you can’t just shoot your way out of hordes of zombies. Having a sense of danger, a sense of limited resources keeps everything tense.
I had a pretty funny story from early on that I’m guessing isn’t too unique. So I’m leaving the intro area in a station wagon with my team, driving as fast as possible so we can get by the mobs, and I promptly plunge off of a bridge that’s out before I can stop. We crash in the revine and the noise brings down the wrath of 10 or so zombies on our heads. Getting out of there was a fun challenge, all the more so because I couldn’t just reload a previous save.