Review by Necro_Fear89
"A VERY long and fair detailed review."
Some people see a 7/10 score and they believe it to be a bad score, in the world of gaming where many a gamer has been spoiled by inflated reviews from popular websites or game critics, it's hard to find an opinion of a game for what it truly is. This is what I want to accomplish here, to give an honest review of a game I had lots of fun with but it's very unpolished and riddled with flaws and many a glitch. I will be very detailed so it may be a very long review.
-Introduction into State of Decay-
State of Decay was released for Xbox 360 Live Arcade(With a PC release in mind at the time of this review), it's a zombie survival game where you have to manage your group of survivors and have them make it through another day in the zombie infested town of Trumbull Valley. There is very little when it comes to story in the game, this is not to say that there is NO story but it takes a backseat to the meat of the game, so if you're looking for a riveting story-line then you will be sorely disappointed I am sorry to say.
The game works like this, you meet survivors looking to do the same thing you are looking to do, and that is survive the zombie apocalypse and to avoid getting eaten. How you meet these different playable characters varies, Lily, the girl in charge of the radio communications in the game and your group's lifeline to find supplies will look for survivors if you ask her to if you click on the tower icon in your home base. You can also play the game normally and as you build trust certain groups will contact you for help and ask if they can join your group since they will not make it on their own.
Each character you meet comes with a few skills, some weaknesses and different traits that they can put to good use. For instance some are cooks, so if you build a kitchen you can have them cook food for everyone and in turn receive stamina and health buffs that come along with it. Some are physicians and if you build an infirmary they can take care of all health related issues. Others come with weaknesses, such as if they smoked a pack of cigarettes a day before the zombies appeared then they will not be as efficient runners, and will not level up their Cardio(Stamina) skill which makes them last longer when fighting or running.
You can play with all the characters you recruit except for Lily, in game she is sick and she would not last long on the field so she takes the job of operating the radio and she is a central character to the game and the game mechanics. Some characters are better than others at certain things, and you can specialize in their strengths to make them deadly zombie slayers. You can specialize them to become better at shooting guns or rifles, make them more efficient with blunt of edged weapons, make them better brawlers all while leveling their core skills which will also give you bonuses as they get better at it. Note you MUST play with a character to level him or her up, they alone will not level up unless you use them yourself.
How does the game work? Well, you must manage your group like I mentioned. All this has a bit of a The Sim's feel to it, characters will need food, medicine, ammo, building materials, and gas to make it and survive. Everything can be found on the field by scavenging houses and warehouses for the materials you need, you can also ask Lily to search for specific things if you are short on something, such as if you are short on food you can ask her to radio you when she has a lead on somewhere you can find some food and then you can go there yourself, scavenge the place and find what you need and take it back to camp. When you find a crate of let's say food, you will pack it in your backpack which will cause it to become bigger and make you lose stamina faster since you are carrying a heavy load so it's advised to take your supplies back to camp ASAP after looting.
All of the above ties into another thing, the Morale bar, depending on how your characters feel on their situations they will either be happy, depressed, angry, bitter, fearful or outright suicidal. If you are not doing a good job of scavenging for supplies your group's morale will be low, and some may even run away from camp and if the situation is dire some may even become deranged and commit suicide out of extreme depression. So if you want to guarantee that you always have a prepared group and are strong enough to survive the hordes of zombies you will be facing, then it is a good idea to always scavenge for supplies often to keep them happy and strong.
This however comes with a minor gripe that I have with the game, the game continues to play itself when you are not playing it, what do I mean by this? Well, to a maximum of 3 days that you do not play the game, the game will subtract a certain amount of supplies from your amounted count, so let's say that after 3 days of not playing and you didn't have enough supplies to keep your group well off during your absence, then when you come back you might find some of your survivors might be on the brink of suicide or some have actually died or ran away because of the lack of food or the lack of safety. Whether or not this plays into your decision to play the game it is up to you, it is however a small gripe as supplies are ample and plenty so it is not hard to get back up on your feet, should however one of your favorite survivors die then it might bother you a bit.
The game's story is not stellar, you do certain story missions that will further the plot along but for the most part they aren't anything amazing or ground-breaking, basically the premise is that you must survive long enough for either help to come along or for you and your group to find a way out of the area and get to safety. Not much to say here, basic zombie survival story.
I will be honest, the game looks dated, this all plays into the 2GB limit that Microsoft has on Xbox Live Arcade games so the developers did what they could with what little they had. Another cause of the dated look of the game might also be the fact that the developers are a new company, and a small group of game makers with a limited budget. The character models look OK, the world is detailed enough that it's acceptable but it is not pushing the limits of the 360 if that is what you are asking. Textures may look muddy, washed out, blurry and some textures even fail to load at times, making the game a bit of an eye-sore at certain points.
Most characters have the same voice actor, so don't get your hopes up for a vast cast of VA. Game-play sounds during combat are good, and there is music in the game. It's not stellar music but some of the tracks are actually kind of nice sounding, they aren't annoying but for the most part they are forgettable. Overall the sound aspect of the game is decent, it does it's job and that is all there is to it.
The game plays like this, you have your stamina bar and a health bar, doing actions like running, climbing and fighting hand-to-hand or with melee weapons all consume your stamina bar. It's something you must always manage when in combat, you press the X button to attack with melee attacks with your weapon equipped. The Y button performs a push attack that gets enemies away from you, and holding the Left Bumper button while pressing the X button together makes your character perform a finishing maneuver on a fallen or weakened foe and rewards with a gruesome bloody kill.
You can have restorative items with you, Painkillers and Morphine all numb pain which restores health over time, while items like Snacks and certain meds restore your stamina over time as well. You can have both types of restorative items with you at all times and you switch to each by pressing Left or Right on your D-Pad, you press the Right Bumper button to use the selected item on the go, other items like Molotovs and Grenades are also used with the Left Bumber button. Overall, combat is deep enough to keep you engaged, with character specifications all adding a layer of depth to the game, overall it's fun.
-Home bases and Additional Areas-
There are certain areas in the game that can become your home base, these areas can come with certain places with-in the building that can either be for sleeping, a sick bay, garage places, or auto-repair shops. Home bases also have additional areas where you can craft more areas to better help your survivors, you can use the Building Materials you scavenge to build additional wings to your base such as a garden to grow food, a medical room for sick or injured characters that can also be used to craft home medicine or even to a training room to level your characters up and have them become more efficient.
Some areas require a specialist to be able to be used to their maximum potential, for instance a library requires a good researcher to be able to get the best benefits or a kitchen requires a top chef to be able to be used which encourages you to keep recruiting the right people with the right skills to get the most from your base. You can also take over smaller areas like warehouses or houses to increase not only the salvage you may receive from them but increase your own perimeter to make a safe area you can walk around in. There are called Strongholds, and by pressing down on the D-Pad you can ask Lily to make it your own and take it over, making it a very important tool to survive.
**Now I will touch on some of the issues in the game**
What do I mean by this? The frame-rate, it's an issue, as it stands the game may run at certain points depending on how much is going on at once on screen, at a whopping 25 to 20 FPS and may even dip lower if you are experiencing lots of texture pop in and have lots of enemies on screen. You may be driving along and the frame-rate might be struggling to keep up with the speed of your car, which in my experience results in many a needless crash into an object.
Another issue is the draw distance, and is it ever bad, you will again, be driving along when a random rock that the draw distance didn't render in time happens to appear and you crash into it causing damage to your car or have you get swarmed by zombies from the unexpected halt. Or be wandering around farmland when the fence around the perimeter didn't render in time and you hit it dead on. Sometimes it's so very noticeable that you can be inside a building and the draw distance be pitiful that items a few feet away from your character disappear as if they aren't even there and reappear as you get closer. Overall it's a very rough game, with a very clunky feel at times, so if you aren't the type of person who can overlook some of the glaring flaws then you might not have fun with this game.
-Is the game FUN?!-
Short answer? YES!
In fact despite all the issues this game currently has the game is a blast, I keep coming back to it to play and I keep trying different characters and different specializations for them that it all feels fresh. There is a rewarding feeling when you finally get your group to be efficient and finally max out your favorite characters to be unstoppable. It is a blast to take out hordes of enemies all while dodging and fighting with huge hammer and executing finishing moves. At $20 I have gotten more enjoyment out of this game than I have with some AAA $60 titles, I would say to try it out, it will only set you back $20. There is also a demo available for download to give it a trial, I highly recommend the game, and I hope this review will at the very least entice you to give it a shot.
State of Decay was released for Xbox 360 on (US, 06/05/13)
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/01/13
Game Release: State of Decay (US, 06/05/13)
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