Zombie Apocalypse Now
Bad zombie puns aside, I’ve spoken about State of Decay before, mostly because I’m a fan of zombie related media. This time I’m dying (okay, that one was tenuous) to talk about Undead Labs first offering after having had my hands on it for a bit. The game officially launched on the 5th of June to XBLA, it’s been a week since it launch so what’s the deal? Previously known as code-name ‘Class3’, State of Decay is a sandbox survival game with purpose; a dynamic, persistent world that ticks along even if you aren’t there. As far as I can tell the only constant is the story and the lay of the land, everything else can change.
I want to try not to spoiler anything right now, but if you’ve read anything about the game already it’ll be no great surprise that death is very permanent in Trumbull Valley. However your game works out, you’ll always start as Marcus Campbell but you might not always be able to keep him alive. Despite the game being sandbox in nature, there are missions and there’s still a story that unfolds along with the survivors you rescue and protect. There are layers, upon layers of complexity inherent in the survivors themselves, which are randomly generated complete with personality traits, hobbies, occupation, moods. All of which affect their skill-set and ability to cope with various interactions in the game (such as how long they take to search bags or how much moral they posses). The key to survival in this incarnation of the zombie apocalypse is resource management but in a world where money means nothing, all you have left is influence with your fellow survivors, food and weapons. You’re going to have to scavenge, steal and smash your way to anything resembling safety; all whilst managing your burgeoning community in the midst of nightmarish landscape.
My first impressions of State of Decay are that feels like a mash-up of a Rockstar Games title (maybe GTA or Red Dead Redemption), Dead Rising, The Sims franchise with a hint of Farming Simulator thrown in for good measure. I know that sounds like an odd and slightly heady combination, but it’s all I can equate it to right now, which I think speaks for how unique and ambitious this game is. What I do know from the short amount of time I’ve played so far is that it oozes atmosphere immediately, eerie music plays in the background as you sprint, walk or sneak around the area; either brazenly smashing zombies in the face or trepidatiously sneaking up behind them for a guaranteed one-hit-kill. I’ll be giving it significantly more play-time over the next few days, making sure to get more details to give you about how the game plays, whether it’s worth it’s 1600 MSP price-tag and other interesting stuff I’ll no doubt find along the way. From the little I’ve played and from reading the Undead Labs Twitter and forums, I’m quietly confident that this is going to be one of the best XBLA games I’ve come across in a while. Especially since they managed to sell over a quarter of a million copies within two days of going live, even with launch issues in Germany, Australia/New Zealand and South Africa.
There is a patch due for the game which currently going through certification process for deployment to XBLA, this will clear up some issues in it’s current version, but how long the process might take for it to go live is currently unknown. A PC version is scheduled to become available but the team over at Undead Labs are still working on making that happen so there is no current release date for the PC. So, whilst I sink my teeth into the rest of the game, why don’t you have a listen to a couple of tracks from the State of Decay soundtrack on Soundcloud to give you a taste of what’s to come.
A copy of State of Decay was kindly provided by Undead Labs for the purpose of this preview.