Next Stop: State Of Decay

By Adam Smith on September 9th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

Instead of complaining about zombies, let’s try to be positive about the little rotters. Which game, to your mind, has best used the most common and infectious of undead enemies? Would you opt for the character-driven dread and vulnerability of The Walking Dead? Zomboid’s bleak suburban survivalism? Maybe you just like shooting hordes of former friends in the head, in which case you’re spoiled for choice. State of Decay, formerly of County Console, looks like one of the best survival experiences yet and the PC version is almost here. On September 3rd, an official Facebook page announced that a ‘controller-only version’ will hit Steam Early Access in ‘a couple of weeks’. Mouse and keyboard controls will come later, which seems odd, but I want to play now, so I won’t complain too much.

Here’s the full paragraph relevant to our interests:

Okay. Here was PAX in a nutshell. We brought a PC to show off how pretty SoD looks on a PC. It was a normal machine with two year old components, running the game on the medium settings. We will be launching the controller-only version on Steam as part of their Early Access thing in a couple weeks or so – please note that I can’t control the exact date, and I don’t have one to give you. Then comes Sandbox (still testing, so again, I don’t have an exact date), and before the year is out, the full mouse and keyboard PC version on Steam.

Should be about a week away now then, that first version.

While considering zombie games, it’s worth mentioning that Zafehouse Diaries launched on Steam over the weekend. I mostly agree with Rab, in that I find the concept more interesting than the product. It’s a turn-based sort of a thing, in which survivors are managed, given new instructions on an hourly basis. At some point, the development team decided it’d be great if characters were occasionally racist or homophobic, causing friction in the group. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to find anyone who doesn’t consider their prejudices more important than the absolute end of the world that is happening just outside the barricades.

That said, last night I was deep into a game and two of my team battled their way into a warehouse that contained nothing more than a hundred frying pans and a few mops. It was a moment of pure farcical despair and I felt like I’d grown to love Zafehouse a little after experiencing such beauty.

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50 Comments »

  1. Anthile says:

    The thing with zombies is that they’re just that: zombies. In almost all cases you might as well replace them with particularly upset ducks.
    That said, The Walking Dead was a compelling experience and State of Decay appears to be one as well but that’s because they’re good not because they have zombies in it.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Duck Rising never really caught on as a franchise.

      • RedViv says:

        The Walking Duck never found its footing either. Too much drama in what sounded too much like a children’s book.
        Duck Space, on the other hand, was rightfully claimed to be just another cheap copy of the Moon level from DuckTales.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Day of the Duck was particularly popular at our local Chinese. Dawn of the Duck followed, and was unpopular.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Runequest knows about those dirty ducks!

    • frightlever says:

      The obligatory:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oave-jKePH0

      (Bingo Player and Far East Movement)

    • tigerfort says:

      I’d argue that the good thing about zombies as the enemy is that they allow you to focus all of your attention on the protagonist(s) and their motivations, character, and behaviour, because zombies don’t have any of those things – they’re an existential menace with no reasoning faculties. Whereas if you’re dealing with orcs or aliens, then the story should spend at least some time discussing why the aliens want to take over the earth (and usually does, although generally not in any serious detail). So with zombies you have a special opportunity to look at how different people cope with problems beyond their control.

      Of course, most games (and frankly most stories in other media, too) fail to explore – or even consider – the motivations of either side in any meaningful way, but that’s a different problem.

      • Nick says:

        exactly.. and zombies allow the total breakdown of society as we know it and the interesting interactions that result.

      • The Random One says:

        I disagree. Any sort of disaster, natural or unnatural, that destroys all infrastructure is set for that kind of character story. If you’re feeling especially artsy you can even leave the precise nature of the disaster unspoken. Zombies are a very specific metaphor.

        • Nenjin says:

          I’ve always seen zombie apocalypse games as a metaphor about our fear and loathing of our fellow man and our desire to, morally, shoot them in the head. To lay waste to vaguely humanoid things without guilt, conscious or “feels.”

        • Nick says:

          zombies are not specific at all, they have been used in cinema for all sorts of analogies.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Don’t watch the Omega Man!

    • Ansob says:

      The thing about zombies is that they were never supposed to be an enemy. They were only ever supposed to be a disaster that exists as a backdrop to human drama and some prevaricating about human nature.

      For the most part, “zombie games” miss this completely and are actually “games with zombies in them.” The Walking Dead and DayZ are two of the rare titles that actually get it.

      (Basically, L4D is entirely shit at being a zombie game, which isn’t to say it’s a shit game of course.)

      • Convolvulus says:

        The co-op mechanics of L4D have quite a lot to do with human nature.

        • Geen says:

          Wait
          The griefing is intentional to the game design!
          Some people will always be impatient idiots, running ahead, getting killed, and dooming everyone. Some people will always be greedy bastards, not sharing medical supplies or weaponry.
          Some people will just be downright idiots, setting off alarms, wasting items, and attracting the undead.
          HOLY FUCKING SHIT VALVE HAD IT PLANNED ALL ALONG

      • HadToLogin says:

        I don’t think world after disaster would turn into deathmatch arena… And that’s what DayZ became – deathmatch, just with additional zombies.
        Hopefully standalone will try to change it a bit.

    • LostViking says:

      The thing with zombies is that they provide a motive and an excuse for the player/protagonist to kill tons and tons of people.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      State of Ducky.

    • Mabswer says:

      Oh yea, Survival instinct was so “compelling experience”

  2. Njordsk says:

    I’m almost always fine with steam early access, but come on, no mouse & kb support?

    Seems weird for a PC released game…

  3. leQuack says:

    Which game, to your mind, has best used the most common and infectious of undead enemies?

    Left 4 Dead (2)

  4. bstard says:

    Killing Floor, the carnival event variants. With Pukey the Clown and so.

  5. lordfrikk says:

    Can’t wait, been hearing a lot about this one.

  6. kwyjibo says:

    For how much longer will “open world zombie survival” remain the default game genre?

    Even the shit ones are raking in the money, where’s all this demand coming from?

  7. Jesse L says:

    This is a great game – a fantastic mix between guided-story and randomized elements that could stand a LOT of imitation.

    The question you want to ask about the PC version is: did they fix the slowdown? Because that shit was disgraceful. In the console version when you drive fast in town you start ramming into obstacles that haven’t loaded yet.

  8. stoner says:

    Oh boy!! More zombies. Yay…

  9. jonahcutter says:

    Left 4 Dead and Project Zomboid are the top two, covering the two main types of zombie apocalypses. L4D/L4D2 does the best frantic scramble of the fast zombie experience. PJ does the best encroaching despair of the slow zombie experience.

    Both of these games are far more about the visceral experience of the actual apocalypse, not focused as much on actual storylines.

    For zombie-survival experiences that focus on story and character development, with the zed apocalypse as a backdrop, The Last of Us and The Walking Dead are tops. Again, one for fast and one for slow zeds.

  10. P.M. Gleason says:

    I keep waiting for the stupid zombie fad to die out but it refuses. Last of Us is being worshiped like some kind of digital messiah but it does nothing new. It just does ancient ideas in a slightly decent way.

    No matter what it is about zombies that you want to say, it’s already been said. A thousand times before. Games like Last of Us just manage to hit on every single teeth-grindingly monotonous cliche in existence as it pertains to the idiocy of zombie media.

    Stop. Just stop. Let it go.

    • jonahcutter says:

      So you don’t enjoy genre games/stories in general? Or specifically just zombie genre games/stories?

      • P.M. Gleason says:

        I don’t like zombies. I’m simply sick of them. I have no issue with genre narrative, as it’s incredibly hard to break away from it due to convention anyway (although this is a strength of the video game medium, imo).

        There’s nothing that can be said about zombies that hasn’t already been said about zombies or about some sort of post-apocalytpic/dystopian theme.

    • Jesse L says:

      I keep waiting for the backlash against zombies to end, but it doesn’t either. This is a several years old trend as well at this point.

      • MattM says:

        I usually find the backlashes to be more annoying and harder to avoid than the crazes. Bronies, twihards, furries, and such all seem to mostly stick to sharing their passion with others of like minds. The hatedoms tend to be more invasive and want to “correct” others who don’t share their opinion.

        I think the continued popularity of zombie games comes from the diverse ways they have been used and because people are still looking for some experiences that haven’t been delivered yet.

        • dethtoll says:

          Credit where it’s due to The Last Of Us for using fungal infection as a fairly unique take on the standard zombie, too.

          • P.M. Gleason says:

            That was the only semi-original take in the game, and I did like that because it’s based on popular, real science. If not twisted to a very large degree, but still retaining some sort of verisimilitude.

            This isn’t the same as bronies or furries because it has infiltrated everything. Everything. Books, comics, games, movies, hell, even theater, even the news. And there’s nothing left to say.
            If there was something to say about it to begin with, Romero said it, and now it’s just pounding dead and done ideas into a very, very deep grave. Pardon the pun.

            There’s nothing new happening here. It’s just the same garbage being done over and over, just like with vampires. For my money and time, for what it’s worth, vampires were done with Interview with a Vampire. Everything else is just extraneous, pointless repetition.

            When you have romcoms whose sole gimmick is that one of the characters is a zombie, you have a problem.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Oh, a nasty case of athletes brain!

          • MattM says:

            Movies like Warm Bodies and Twilight don’t appeal to me (30 yr old male) but then I just don’t go and see them. I still enjoy good zombie and vampire stories and games. I don’t demand that sports games and flight sims be taken off the market just because they don’t appeal to me. If you are sick of zombie games, just don’t buy them.

    • golem09 says:

      No, it has not all been said about zombie, and that is the problem. Almost no game even ATTEMPTS to say anything, so so far almost nothing has been said. They are only now starting, with State of Decay and Dead State.

      • P.M. Gleason says:

        And what, precisely, is there left to say, assuming that you aren’t referring specifically to vidja games as your reasoning? And even then, I just don’t see it. I thought Deadlight was better as a narrative than Last of Us anyway.

  11. ocelot113 says:

    Kinda wish they’d release a keyboard and mouse version first to test it because ports almost always have terrible mouse/keyboard integration on PC launch.

    • lordfrikk says:

      That’s kind of impossible since the controller support is already in the game seeing as it’s ported from a console. If we wanted the game to be already released with KBM support I imagine the game wouldn’t be out so soon on Early Access thus making this whole endeavor pointless.

  12. dethtoll says:

    Technically they’re not undead, but The Last Of Us is in the top tier of zombie games I’ve played.

  13. Fullforce says:

    Played a tremendous amount of this on 360 and can’t wait for it to roll onto PC. Great game.