I’m hiding behind a stone fence because everything has gone horribly wrong. In my hand are my last bottle of painkillers, enough to get me through the next few minutes. I’m tired and it’s not getting better. All around me is fire and smoldering corpses, and a screamer is shambling towards me. It’s lost it’s arms somewhere in it’s decay, but that’s not it’s weapon. I’m hoping, praying it doesn’t screaming because if it does I’m dead. Permanently dead.
A zombie horde is sashaying it’s way down the road and is currently gather around my car, my only way out. They don’t see or hear me and if the screamer keeps his mouth shut I might be able to survive this mess of a cleanup.
He screams, they hear me.
Soon they’re barreling through the gate and I can see their red eyes glowing. They move slow until they have a bead on prey, and then they run as fast as they can. I sprint in front of the gate just before they hit me and hop over the low wall. I limp over to the car and start the engine. Zombies gather around the doors, slamming their meaty fists into the side. The screamer lets another one loose. I drive away and manage to hit a cutscene that saves my life.
State of Decay is not your average zombie game. This game does exactly what zombie nerds have been asking for a while now. The goal of this game is not conquest. You are not some ultra-powerful human who can crush the undead in his way. You do not have a pistol with unlimited ammo. Ammo is scarce, and guns are a liability. The noise they unleash will attract more. I shoot only when I have to, when sound doesn’t matter. You are charged with the simple task of keeping you and the survivors you find safe. When a character dies, he’s gone and you play as another of your group. If that person dies, so on until there’s no one left. If that happens, you start the game over.
In this age of rapid checkpoints and linear environments, it’s encouraging to see a game so willing to break the status quo. The game operates in real time, meaning when you sign off the action continues and your group consumes food. Which means you must be constantly on patrol for more sustenance. While you search and fight and run you gain experience and level up, that is until you get shredded in which you lose everything.
In terms of game play, State of Decay runs a little similarly to Grand Theft Auto in which there are cars available for joyriding (careful, the sound of the engine is almost certain to bring attention) and guns available for shooting. On top of all that are rpg elements and stealth kills available to help you ward off the undead. It’s one hell of a ride, although one that leaves you jittery and exhausted. Just stepping out of your safe zone is a nightmare, and god forbid you have to travel at night.
While the game is brilliant, it suffers from a lack of polish. There is bouts of framerate lag and clipping. Nothing game breaking by any means, but certainly enough to bother. It doesn’t hold the game back at all.
The best news is, the game is only 20 bucks on the XBox Marketplace and has more ambition than many blockbuster games I’ve played in recent years.
I highly recommend.