State Of Decay – Year One Survival Edition

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We might not admit it, but we have all got a contingency plan. We all know that the zombie plague is imminent. You’ve had that thought at the back of your mind that maps out exactly where every item you would need is in your house. Hell, even what clothes you would wear! You know the best routes to your family’s homes, and the likelihood of them even surviving at all. When it was released on Xbox 360 back in 2013, State Of Decay let us live those nightmares… or dreams. If your that way inclined.

The game’s developers, Undead Labs, have taken the path that so many companies take these days, the path of re-masterey. The Year One Survival Edition has been recreated at 1080p both on Xbox One and PC. The game also comes bundled with the original game’s two expansion packs, ‘Breakdown’ and ‘Lifeline’. In addition to this, new missions, weapons, and extra content, along with improved lighting, textures, animations, and combat mechanics, will pull you even deeper into the post-outbreak world. You will have to enjoy it all on your lonesome though, as multiplayer remains absent. Although a cooperative mode was considered by the developers, it proved to be just too much work. Maybe next time…?…

There is a certain assumption that if you are reading this, you are familiar with the original version of the game. For those unknowledgeable on the subject of State of Decay; it is a survival-horror where ‘survival’ is the true focal point. Not mindless killing sprees as you may have come to expect from other zombie branded titles. You need to focus on survival tactics: stealth, evasion, distractions, base building, survivor community, securing resources, and moving through the open world. A strong survivor community is key. As there is no particular protagonist, all rescued survivors are playable, they each have their own bland backgrounds too that give some detail on their lives pre-outbreak. The game possesses several RPG elements, you level your characters up by investing the time playing with them or buddying up and taking them with you on supply runs.
Players are also able to choose from a large variety of locations to build a base in. Structures such as watch towers, gardens, sleeping quarters, kitchens, workshops, medical bays, and barricades can be constructed to defend against the infected population, help survivors recover faster, and build explosives and other tools. Outposts can also be created to help provide a safe haven whilst out exploring the large open world. If you never managed to play the original, you’ve picked the opportune moment to start!

State of Decay broke almost every Xbox Live sales records when it was released in the summer of 2013. As so many of you bought it back then, is it really worth making the purchase a second time? Owners of the original title on 360 get 33% off of the store price, but even then is it really worth it? If you didn’t play the original, it’s a no-brainer. It’s totally worth the money. If you avoided the DLC, then it’s probably worth the cut-price investment. There are new missions, and a lot of the content originally only accessible when playing the DLC is available across the board. If you played the hell out of the original and bought yourself the DLC, well that’s a decision you’ll have to think long and hard about. It’s totally dependable on how much you enjoyed the game. The game retains its high replay value; you can never predict what will happen with the random event mechanics and there are always plenty of tasks to be getting on with, even 20 hours down the line. In all honesty, the game hasn’t seen much of an improvement graphically. Although some of the textures have been altered and the 1080p facelift is nice. The game still feels very much like an early Xbox 360 game. The graphics will never blow you away and the controls remain unnaturally clunky. There are still the same clipping issues that were present in the original, and frame rates can dip considerably. There are also plenty of glitches that can cause severe heartache, the grievance of losing a character is all the worse when there was literally nothing you could do to prevent his/her death. Imagine walking through town, casually clubbing down zeds. When you suddenly drop under the map, spawn in the clouds and fall to your death. When you have invested hours levelling up said character, it’s even more infuriating! The anguish is real. If you’ve played before, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

State of Decay is hands down, the greatest Xbox Live Arcade game we have seen. It rightfully holds that title. But it’s disappointing that the niggly little issues haven’t been ironed out in this remastered edition. The presentation of the game just doesn’t feel like that of a current gen console, the additional power and possibilities available to developers with the Xbox One haven’t been explored. As previously mentioned, even with the higher resolution it still feels like that of an Xbox 360 game pre 2010. Regardless of these aggravations, State Of Decay is a must have game, and now you have more reason than ever to get yourself a copy.

State of Decay is the pinnacle of all zombie games, it is the most well-thought out game currently available. Although the technical issues still ring true, it does not hinder the experience. It’s original take on the genre is refreshing and the thought that all actions have everlasting consequences is a terrifying concept. I can remember each and every one of the difficult moral decisions that I’ve been forced to make by the dynamic structure of the game. Even when you’re away from the game, it can play on your mind; you’ll be planning what to do next, weighing up pros and cons of moving your base, thinking of how to deal with that difficult character whose just murdered a member of your camp. Character deaths are literally heartbreaking. It feels as if you’ve actually let your group of survivors down. The game is so engaging that you actually forget that it is only a low-budget arcade game, a title that’s available for less than £20. The game certainly gets a lot more right than wrong. State of Decay lets you live out those Walking Dead fantasies to the letter, if a character is proving problematic? Lure him into a field and take care of him, Shane-esque style! There are so many jaw-dropping moments in a game where you can never predict what will happen next. Microsoft have also signed a multi-game deal with Undead Labs. More games are in the works and with a company name like that, we can expect more of the same. State of Decay with the potential of multiplayer really is a mouth-watering prospect.

77/100