When State of Decay first launched for the Xbox 360, it was a bit of fresh air in the zombie infested world of video games. Instead of just mindlessly mowing through undead after undead, you actually had people to rescue. People depended on you for survival, resources needed to be found, areas explored, and while you did fight zombies, the main task was to avoid them at all costs.
Recently, State of Decay was given a fresh makeover for the Xbox One. Combining the original game and its two major DLC’s (Breakdown, an infinite sandbox, and Lifeline), State of Decay: Year One remains the solid game it was on the previous generation of consoles.
Set in an unknown part of the United States, the game gives you one simple objective: survive. Unlike many zombie games, where the game just wants you to kill as many undead humans as possible, this game is about saving the living. You have a group of people with you, and their safety is in your hands. State of Decay is special in this sense, as instead of just worrying about yourself, you need to take care of everyone. Leveling up characters in your party is important. Just as important as not letting them die and kill said upgraded party members.
Very rarely in zombie games does the thought of death instill fear in someone. If you die, you can easily just come back to life and hack some more zombies to death. Not in State of Decay. Death is not only permanent for your party members, it also will provide your team with very different consequences depending on who bites the dust.
Realism is key in this game, as the zombies often move just as fast as you, resources are extremely scarce, and things like fatigue, injuries, and even being out of breath play factors in your survival. Keeping you from becoming the Terminator of zombies is a system called Influence. Each item you have, upgrade you get, and outpost you form has influence tied to it. If you want to move things around, it costs influence, creating a system of checks and balances that will stop you from becoming an all mighty zombie slayer.
At its core, State of Decay is a very basic role playing game. Not only will you need to keep an eye on resources, you’ll also need to be wary of injuries to members of your group, relationships with other survivors, and much more. While this is a lot to manage, the game makes it very easy to find and sort everything through an intuitive interface. Nothing is out of reach in State of Decay.
Also bundled with the game for the extremely generous price of $30 ($20 if you have the game on Xbox 360) are the two DLC’s: Breakdown and Lifeline. Breakdown can be described as simply a giant sandbox that emphasizes completing challenges over anything else. Lifeline switches up the POV of the game and puts you in the shoes of the military, a group of people who you often clash heads with in the original campaign. Both of these modes are very much worth playing, and only add to the fun experience that is State of Decay. The game also comes with a ton of content, including vehicles, heroes, music, weapons and more, which only add to the incredible value found within.
While the game looks a lot cleaner visually thanks to the major console upgrade, the bad carries over with the good. Clipping happens a bit too frequently, characters can sometimes distort and look just plain terrifying, and frame rate issues do plague the game. At times, the game doesn’t look too much different than the Xbox 360 version, which is a shame because the game is genuinely fun to play. The real shame, however, is in the game’s lack of any form of multiplayer. While there was talk of it being put into Year One, it ended up being scraped. Any semblance of cooperative play would’ve made this game an instant must buy. One can only hope that in the future it’s tacked onto a sequel.
If you haven’t played the original State of Decay, or are even upgrading to the current gen version, I would urge you to pick up Year One. Occasional bugs aside, not only are you getting a huge bang for your buck, but you’re also getting one of the most unique zombie games to come out… probably ever. This game deserves to be in the discussion of great zombie video games, right up there with Left 4 Dead, The Walking Dead, and many others.
This review was based on a digital review copy of State of Decay: Year One for the Xbox One, provided by Undead Labs.