Impressions: State Of Decay

By Adam Smith on September 24th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

State of Decay was the only reason I regretted jettisoning my Xbox 360. When it came out, I read glowing reviews and believed it might be the open world survival game that so many were waiting for. Now it’s on PC, albeit without proper mouse and keyboard support. I’ve only played for around six hours, but seeing the game riding high on Steam’s best-seller’s list inspired me to write down some impressions. It’s certainly a game I was eager to play but now that I have, I’m not particularly keen to continue.

Along with Dead State, this was the upcoming zombie game that excused my interest in upcoming zombie games. Well received on the 360, it has a focus on survival rather than slaughter, and is set in a series of small settlements across an open world. At a time when Pacman is probably going to be rebooted as an open world third-person action game, yet another to add to the growing pile might not seem particularly exciting, but zombies suit a more open experience. Ideally, it would allow them to shamble through a world wider than a corridor should draw on their strengths, taking the game’s focus away from them and making them an unpredictable environmental hazard.

I came to State of Decay with the expectation that it would riff on some of my favourite parts of horror survival fiction, including the tensions within and between groups of survivors, particularly as resources run low and defences are breached. It does have all of that and more besides, including vehicles, dark and intimidating midnight raids, and enough randomised elements and events to distract from the rather flat story missions. Sadly, all of those parts, for the moment at least, add up to a measly sum.

When I first played, it was three o’clock in the morning. The game had just installed and I thought I was ready to spend the night with it. Fifteen minutes later, I gave up. A lack of sleep and a sophisticated beer-tasting session had left me unable to follow even the most basic of instructions. I’d failed to find the game’s first waypoint, despite the large arrow on the minimap, and had ended up splashing around in a stream, surrounded by zombies.

The next morning, as I awoke from uneasy dreams, I left all memories of the zombie threat on my pillow. Far more ominous was the memory of that arrow and of the clutter of icons on the minimap, of the busy user interface and attention-hungry tutorial pop-ups. My first approach had been ill-timed and unhelpful but even through bleary eyes, State of Decay’s world hadn’t been quite what I expected.

The abiding memory was of flailing zombies, with glowing eyes, who didn’t seem particularly dangerous or frightening at all. I’d hammered the buttons on my controller and they’d fallen over like bowling pins as I waved a tree branch around and then performed a golf-swing finishing move that took their heads clean off. Later, a character says that only a shot to the head will stop them for good but I was too busy bursting craniums open with my bare fists to pay much attention. It’s entirely possible to kick four or five of the rotters into pieces as they charge, doing a sort of can-can, which immediately makes the word less threatening to inhabit.

There’s often more chance of bodily harm walking through a medium-sized city at 11pm on a Saturday night than there is in State of Decay’s blackest nights. Only one character has died while under my control and that’s because I was surrounded in a house and the camera was stuck behind a fridge so I couldn’t see what was happening. The poor sod still managed to survive for two minutes, dragging herself upright as I repeatedly pressed the ‘a’ button, then being pummelled back to the ground.

When a playable character dies, the game gives you control of another. At first, there’s only one chap to play with but he soon makes friends with a soldier (it was she who met her end next to the fridge) and from then on the player can switch between the two. When they arrive at the first proper shelter, more characters become available, but they can only be instructed to accompany on a mission or trip rather controlled directly. New members of the group only become playable when they befriend the main character, which requires a certain level of trust. Random events, supply levels, tiredness, injuries and victories/disasters can all change a character’s mood, which in turn appears to have an impact on how quickly their trust rises or falls.

All of that is good, at least in theory, as is the need to manage personality clashes by dealing with the people involved, either by taking them on a hunting trip to take out their aggression and share their grievances, or by kicking someone out of the group, which can work out for the best, but could also lead to violence or further distrust among those who remain. Even in the brief time that I’ve been playing, I’ve foolishly rescued too many survivors, bringing them back to the church where food, beds and medication are all lacking. As soon as I hear about a group, trapped and surrounded, I’m compelled to save them, ignoring the advice of my group, who are becoming ever more fractured and ragged.

Writing about State of Decay is problematic. I look back at the last two paragraphs and am almost convinced that I must have enjoyed the game much more than I did. It sounds great and many of the ideas are, but the implementation is often confusing or laborious. The stockpile situation, for instance, which works out how much ammunition, food and medicine the shelter uses and produces each day. This involves characters trekking off on missions of their own, usually when the player has switched the game off. I can’t make sense of how it works and nor has the game even attempted to explain it to me. In fact, if I hadn’t read reviews of the 360 version I wouldn’t even have known that the game was going to continue, in some way, while I was having my dinner.

Even more perplexing is the sense that time has passed, with the sun setting or rising during gaps between play, while story missions remain frozen. I was supposed to meet a friend at the other side of town in the game but had to take a break to meet someone at the other side of town in real life. When I returned, hours seemed to have passed, most of our food had been eaten and everyone was depressed. My minimap still had a mission marker so I jogged through the streets to find my buddy and there he was – “about time you showed up!” I think he’d been standing there for days, untouched by the zombies and only slightly irritated by the delay.

The system doesn’t appear to punish the player for being away for a long time, so going on holiday and coming back a week later won’t cause everyone to starve to death, but something happens every time I save, quit and then return. Once, it was our resident gruff policeman complaining that he’d eaten some pins that had been left in a box of candy, or something along those lines. I didn’t understand why that would happen but he was very cross about it so I had to take him for a walk and shoot some zombies to cheer him up. We were also running out of food so we raided a shop. I didn’t have enough inventory space to carry all the provisions, so I radioed for a courier.

The courier was our cook. I watched him from the roof, sprinting across town toward junctions, turning sharply and continuing in a straight line. He was more machine than man. When a couple of zombies stood in his path, he hit them with a plank until their heads exploded, and then just carried on running, directly toward us.

My observation of the cook brought my feelings about the game into focus. State of Decay is more functional than immersive, except on those occasions when it’s dysfunctional. How much of this is down to the early access, I don’t know. The few people I’ve spoken to who played on 360 report varying degrees of glitchiness so I can’t say with any certainty whether things have become worse, but I’ve seen many a zombie clipping through scenery and humans repeatedly vaulting over the same log. During a scripted story mission sequence, one character became annoyed and abandoned the rest of the group. “WAIT!” One of them shouted. He stood there, right in front of her face. “COME BACK! DON’T GO!” He didn’t. “We’ll have to carry on without him.” Even as we drove away, he was standing, staring at the same point in the middle distance.

I’d happily tolerate all of that if I was invested in the game’s world but, story missions aside, I’m struck by the aimlessness that is the dread of the open world experience.

Lacking purpose is fine if there is something interesting, beautiful or unexpected in at least one direction, but State of Decay’s plot of land doesn’t seem large or dense enough to maintain interest. It’s a murky smudge of a place and the first town takes a minute or two to traverse in one of the many vehicles scattered around the place. I was warned not to rely on them because the noise of their engines attracts zombies but they are invincible killing machines. I’ve ploughed through hordes of zombies and taken no more than a scratch, whereas on foot I’d be kung fu kicking like a crazy man.

Combat is tedious and using melee weapons has a Looney Tunes vibe, more fitting Dead Rising than the more serious tone that State of Decay strives for. Problematically, the bulk of the game appears to involve sprinting around hotpoints on a minimap, occasionally crouching and ever so slowly creeping around a large group of zombies, but more often smashing through the middle of them in a truck.

There’s an RPG in the background somewhere, with character relationships and skill levels, but I feel far too little attachment to those characters, particularly since they can die while my back is turned. That leaves the simulation, with its resource management and attempt to construct a believable ecosystem of sorts. It isn’t very well explained so I’m not sure whether I believe in its workings or not, but it mostly seems to happen without me. Imagine the Zafehouse Diaries with added third person combat and less control over the group of survivors. In State of Decay, I exist to follow the bidding of the minimap and the popups, and the most enjoyment I’ve had has been counter to the game’s themes and atmosphere.

To get some of the screenshots here, I jumped into a car and drove into the middle of nowhere, in the way that only an idiot would during a zombie apocalypse. The vehicle broke when the engine became clogged with intestines and I was stranded, with a few bottles of painkillers and a couple of snacks. The journey home was the most fun I’ve had with the game and if the finished version’s promised sandbox mode can more sensibly replicate that sort of scenario, it might well be worth a look. For now though, State of Decay is more interesting as a collection of ambitious ideas than an experience.

Zombie Labs have said that the early access version is “not ready to be reviewed” and these are only impressions of a few hours play. I’ll return when the game is finished, with a customisable control scheme and (hopefully) improved detail and resolution options. For now, I’m going to step away and reconsider my relationship with the undead for a while.

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78 Comments »

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  1. Spakkenkhrist says:

    I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it but I’m also currently enjoying the Game of Thrones RPG so I clearly have no taste.

    • GamesInquirer says:

      Hey I thought that looked pretty decent prior its release, sort of a more competently made Dragon Age even. But I didn’t actually play it to see how it really turned out, yet at least.

      • Spakkenkhrist says:

        Picked it up for 6 quid in Steam, the story is pretty good but it’s an ugly looking game with bad combat, the voice acting is wildly inconsistent (a couple of the actors from the series voice their parts however); knowing the world really helps though as I know most of the places and people they refer to.

        • RogerioFM says:

          Game of thrones RPG is a great bad game, if that makes any sense. It has a great story with excellent character, that anyone would enjoy, even those who did not read the books. At least they would if the game wasn’t so ugly and the VA so bad, although I liked Mors. Still, I must be part blind since I don’t care for graphics.

        • Shieldmaiden says:

          I got it cheap on Steam too and I’m really enjoying it. The combat isn’t great, but I can’t remember the last time I played a RPG with combat that I found more than tolerable. I’m liking that the two PCs hit various bits of cool from the setting without being existing characters with the serial numbers filed off. I love that the story isn’t about some epic quest to save the world and having choices and consequences that aren’t shoved down my throat or clearly highlighted in red and blue is brilliant.

    • Werthead says:

      That was a good game. Okay, the combat was poor, the opening couple of hours a bit dull and the writing (or at least the translation; it was originally written in French) was iffy, but the story was really good with at least one twist that George R.R. Martin would have been proud of.

      Definitely a pretty strong RPG once you get around the VERY rough edges.

    • Waltorious says:

      People seem to be forgetting that Alec actually liked the Game of Thrones RPG:

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/06/01/wot-i-think-game-of-thrones/

    • Tammi741 says:

      my co-worker’s mother-in-law makes $70/hr on the computer. She has been without a job for 7 months but last month her pay was $13024 just working on the computer for a few hours. you can try this out.

      —> http://www.works25.com

  2. SkittleDiddler says:

    I fucking love this game. It’s definitely an acquired taste though, but it’s still better than that abortion of a zombie simulator called DayZ.

    Regarding the “not ready to be reviewed” quote: you’re likely looking at everything the game will have to offer (aside from the sandbox DLC) when it’s released as a finished product, so don’t get your hopes up for a drastically different experience.

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      Luringen says:

      I bought it when it released on Early Access as well, been playing with mouse and keyboard so far. Apart from mouse controls being broken as hell, the menus being unusable with a mouse, and the radio button needing to be modded in, it works OK and I’ve had a blast. More than 3 zombies and I will take damage. More than 6 and I’m dead unless i brought fireworks to distract or snacks to get running. Barely used guns so far since mouse aiming is not properly in.

      So yeah, I think it’s very fun, but if you don’t like what you see right now, it’s not going to be much better at release.

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      Smashbox says:

      I’m of the opinion that once you start charging money, you can’t somehow claim reviews are off limits.

  3. pilouuuu says:

    That happened to be a few times before.

    Expecting a game for a long time, being overly hyped and when it finally arrived I was underwhelmed. A good example was Alan Wake. Probably because it was dumbed down to work as a long time console exclusive.

    • Bull0 says:

      I loved Alan Wake. Just to offer the counterpoint there

      • Nick says:

        me too, there was a touch too much filler combat, but overall I really liked it and the followup/expandalone.

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      CelticPixel says:

      It’s interesting because a lot of people seemed to feel that way about Alan Wake, but when I played it I’d basically missed all the hype and PR promises they supposedly made in the run up to release so I came into it with no real expectations and it blew me away. One of only two games last year that really left me thinking ‘wow’ after I finished played it.

      • HadToLogin says:

        +1

        Expected nothing, received hours of fun.

        And along the ride, proper Max Payne ending happened too, which was great.

    • pilouuuu says:

      Well, I felt the same way about Bioshock Infinite.
      Hype is such a treacherous mistress…

      Actually I quite enjoyed Alan Wake, but it could have been so much more.

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      Chaz says:

      In what way do you think it was “dumbed down”?

      I know that originally they were going to make it a more open world affair with day night cycles etc. Detective by day, monster stomping by night. However as a far as I understand it those features were curtailed because they either didn’t work out or they’d overreached themselves a bit. I don’t think it would have turned out any different really had it not been an Xbox exclusive for the first 6-12 months or whatever it was.

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    Dimonte says:

    Just want to point out that this is the finished version. On the forums you can find a list of things that are currently considered unfinished, but it’s mostly graphical glitches and controls. That said, I certainly don’t regret spending money on it. It’s a short game (if you’re counting story missions only), it’s a very easy and shallow game, but boy, this is the only game with zombies in it that I liked for the past three or so years.

  5. bladedsmoke says:

    Sounds like Project Zomboid is still the best example of the “open-world zombie sandbox” sub-genre.

    • Meridian99 says:

      I was going to say the same thing, that game really makes me appreciate the loneliness and stress of surviving the Zombie apocalypse. And it’s cheap too.

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    daphne says:

    When I first played, it was three o’clock in the morning. The game had just installed and I thought I was ready to spend the night with it. Fifteen minutes later, I gave up. A lack of sleep and a sophisticated beer-tasting session had left me unable to follow even the most basic of instructions.

    You game journo types are living the good life, it seems. : )

  7. granderojo says:

    When I first started playing this game, the first time I went to collect some survivors the group just stared at the car doors until a horde showed up where they were eventually mauled all becoming injured. I chalked that first play session up to the fact that this is essentially an early access game and that they’ll probably fix it later. I was also seeing a lot of weird performance hiccups and I have a pretty nice rig so it was upsetting. Again, early access.

    Waited a few days and came back. Some of the performance hiccups seem to be gone but its still having trouble streaming in new segments of the world. Also I started from the beginning and went forward. Retried getting the survivors on this run and they all jumped in the car fine this time.

    After about 2 hours I have to say this game is kind of intense. The fact that you’re operating in shifts and that every resource is finite really sets up for some sticky predicaments. Any downtime you spend in the game seems like wasted time. This is really cool but I don’t think I’m in the mood for it quite yet, also due to the fact it’s still suffering from performance stuff for me. Possibly future patches could fix that so I might just wait.

    It’s really cool though.

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    DrScuttles says:

    For now, I’m going to step away and reconsider my relationship with the undead for a while.

    To me, this reads as Adam having one of the most awkward conversations I can imagine.
    “I love you, but I’m not IN love with you.”
    “mmrrraaahah?”
    “It’s not you, it’s me.”
    “gggraaaahh.”
    “….we’re just… at very different points in our.. lives.. right now.”
    “muuh. rooooooaaaauerh.”

  9. KeeperKrux says:

    State of Decay is easily my favourite game I’ve played this year. Any one who’s interested I would recommend checking out Tom Chick’s review. He perfectly captures what’s so special and surprising about the game.

    http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2013/06/21/state-of-decay-does-brilliantly-what-videogames-do-best/
    http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2013/07/03/qt3-games-podcast-the-state-of-state-of-decay/

  10. Iceman346 says:

    Yes the game is quite glitchy. This probably stems from the developer being a small indie company without buckets of money to throw around.

    It is also quite slow to start, the normal zombies aren’t much of a threat but attacking a horde on foot with melee weapons still is suicide for the most part. It gets more tense when the special zombies start to show up which happens after doing some story missions. A feral Zombie or a Juggernaut will rip you to shreds if you try to engage it in close combat.

    And while I agree that the game explains many parts of itself poorly it invites the player to experiment. It is an open world sandbox title after all. But still reading up about some stuff in a wiki helps.

    So far I enjoy it immensely. From the top of my head I can’t name another title which is similar in scope and vision. And while State of Decay doesn’t succeed in everything it sets out to do imo the majority of its parts work well and it is well worth the asking price.

  11. mental75 says:

    Typically I agree with most reviews I read here. I know this is not a final review but instead more of an initial impression but my opinion is completely opposite. Yes there are many problems with the game (glitches, stiff animations, walking through doors, some lackluster production) but overall it’s a blast. No other zombie game I’ve played has grasped the concept of survival and fun the way this one has. It reminds me a bit of Last Night on Earth (cheesy board game) and Dead Rising. Anyway, the short of it is totally worth the price of admission and I expect some improvements to be made in the short term. One thing I would love to see is mod support.

    • KeeperKrux says:

      Yep! This is the closest games have ever come to living out the Romero fantasy.

  12. Freud says:

    I love the trend towards both open world and survival in gaming. I love that the big publishers aren’t afraid of it (even if they do simplify it more than they should). I do think there are more misses and half-hits than great games this far, but as long as they keep trying someone will get it right.

  13. Stemot says:

    I’ve put 10 hours into this game so far and even with the half developed resolution support it’s everything I was hoping for. I held off on Project Zomboid because I knew this was coming to PC and seemed a lot more fleshed out. Spend tonight going back up to the games start base with an AI character at night to retrieve a watch from some dead guy for his daughter. Turned out that after scaling the rockface on the other side of a broken bridge my partner decided to sneak off and leave me on my own. Taking out an infested building on my own was the easy part, it was getting back up the other side of that bridge, taking on a horde on a cliff face and barely outrunning another horde to get back to my car with no stamina. A great section of unscripted gameplay which is typical of this games moments.

  14. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    ZOMG this game is crap because no mouse and keyboard.

    Just kidding. I actually like using a controller. I also prefer using a knife and fork to mouse and keyboard sometimes too.

    • EveryoneIsWrong says:

      Really?! I found a knife and fork to be terrible for almost every genre of game… except eat-em-ups

    • Premium User Badge

      colossalstrikepackage says:

      I reckon the case for mouse control is less in this game because shooting anything leads to crazy escalation and also because ammo is quite limited. I’ve tended towards whacking things with a mallet.

  15. GunnerMcCaffrey says:

    “something happens every time I save, quit and then return. Once, it was our resident gruff policeman complaining that he’d eaten some pins that had been left in a box of candy, or something along those lines. I didn’t understand why that would happen but he was very cross”

    Can anyone who’s played shed some light on that? It’s not clear to me why a game would act as if things have happened while it’s been turned off, that seems truly daft.

    • Stemot says:

      It’s a persistent world that simulates events happening during the time you have not played it.

    • mcwill says:

      It is, to a limited degree, designed as a simulator. Your people use up resources, engage in fights with each other and so on between plays, which in turn helps represent the ongoing nature of surviving an apocalypse.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      So it’s a Tamagotchi, except instead of just starving it can starve and eat the people who are starving. Interesting idea, but this may have put me off it.

      • BooleanBob says:

        What, like your Tamagotchi never did that? Please. Next you’ll be telling me it didn’t whisper to you in the night about all those fires you needed to start.

  16. mcwill says:

    “and these are only impressions of a few hours play”

    It shows, it really does. There’s a LOT to the game that you don’t seem to have encountered or even be aware exists. That said, if you disliked the first few hours that much and your suspension of disbelief (SoD, ironically) is as poor for this game as it appears to be, then you’re probably not going to enjoy the rest of it either.

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      xao says:

      The more I played State of Decay, the less I liked it. I kept playing, hoping it would get better but some of the terrible design decisions only became more and more annoying. By the time I beat the game, I was ready to kill off every member of my enclave and head for the hills.

      Oh look, Johnny decided to go for a walk outside the base again.
      – He was probably picking up supplies
      Nope. Just going for a leisurely stroll. At night. Through zombie infested streets. None of these yahoos ever bring anything back unless I find something and explicitly tell them to.
      – Oh. That’s weird. I’m sure he’ll be back soon.
      Nope. He made it as far as the outpost NEXT DOOR TO THE BASE, before getting into “trouble”.
      – I’m sure he has a good reason. Maybe some zombie ninjas infiltrated the outpost past the mines, locked doors, and snipers in the watch tower.
      Nope. I went to the outpost. Nothing there but Johnny.
      – Well, let’s bring him back.
      Can’t. Johnny will only cower in terror until I kill enough zombies in the aforementioned area protected by mines, doors, and snipers to relieve his fears.
      – Well, fuck Johnny then.
      Yep pretty much. Wait where are you going?
      – Gotta get my morning constitutional in!

      Rinse and repeat every hour or so. It was almost as if the developers realized the story was short and decided to pad it out by having every single person you meet be a peripatetic moron and forcing you to divert from supply run seven hundred and forty-nine to bail them out of “trouble”. Couple that with all the bugs and my experience with the game was something less than desirable.

  17. trashbarge says:

    tbh kind of surprised at the gripes about the stylized zombies/violence. the game definitely strives for realism in the group management and survival bits but beyond that there /is/ a lot of (dark) humor in it- it’s something you definitely notice more as the game goes on, some of the dialogue can be really funny. and the glowy eyes are a little silly but very practical, as zombies would be literally impossible to see in the woods at night without them. the variants that come later only get more cartoony so it’s obviously a very deliberate direction they took with the design- and even then, it never reaches the levels of cartoonishness (gonna pretend that’s a word) that the Walking Dead game had, and that certainly didn’t detract from anything. it’s very Dead Rising but it works for it imo

    also surprised that you’ve found yourself able to “kung-fu kick” your way through hordes. i’m assuming you’re using marcus or other character(s) with great stamina + combat stats, but very few characters should be able to do that out of the gate in my experience. or you’re just incredibly good at timing + stamina management

    + the cars are anything but invincible killing machines. they’re limited and can break down quite easily. you can create an auto repair workshop at your base, but it’s a pretty large investment and involves forgoing other useful upgrades like ammo production. cars are great if you need to go bowling for hordes, but they’ll screw you over majorly if you rely on them as your go-to weapon for too long. also, don’t even bother trying to use them to take down Big ‘Uns, i lost about four trucks before finally learning that lesson

    on that note tho, while the plot is pretty barebones it does quite a few neat things that I think Mr. Smith (or whoever ends up reviewing the final release) will be pretty pleased with. they’ve included at least two queer characters as major NPCs and handled it pretty tactfully, and there’s an interesting choice at the end of one of the quest lines where the “evil” choice is the most beneficial one mechanically, but it’s a choice with some pretty nasty implications that I found hard to stomach. the story doesn’t do anything spectacular but it doesn’t do anything /badly/ either

    (christ this ended up way longer than i intended sry)

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      Thermal Ions says:

      “they’ve included at least two queer characters as major NPCs and handled it pretty tactfully”

      More tactfully than your attempt to highlight said handling by the sounds though.

      • trashbarge says:

        i have no idea what you’re trying to be bitchy about tbh. they’ve included queer characters. it’s neat. that’s literally all I said about it.

  18. kwyjibo says:

    We really need “Editorial: An Appeal For No More Zombie Survival Games”

    And yet, stupid amounts of money still being thrown at them.

    • trashbarge says:

      that’s kind of a weird statement. there’s a dizzying amount of zombie games, but still very few that actually focus on the survival aspect

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      Don Reba says:

      If it were a petition, I would sign it.

    • EveryoneIsWrong says:

      I think the sheer amount of money being thrown at this genre speaks to an unfulfilled demand. One day someone will produce a halfway decent zombie survival game.. and beat out minecraft for that category.

      • Tssha says:

        EveryoneIsWrong is completely correct. Zombie survival (TRUE zombie survival) is still an unfulfilled need and while State of Decay goes some way toward scratching that itch, it’s not quite as comprehensive as I’d like to to be. Still, this is probably the best I’m going to be able to do in a LONG time.

        Because my ideal game is just too ambitious, too big to be undertaken by anyone but the most dedicated independent developer.

        Clearing zombies, taking back a city one block at a time, rescuing survivors, feeding them, leading them, and ultimately carving a new civilization out of the ruins of the old one. That’s the game I want to play.

        And in third person perspective would be nice too. :)

        If I have to find a way to kill 4.3 million zombies to do it…then I’ll do it. Just give me the sandbox so I can get to work.

        • Schaap says:

          Yep, that’s exactly the itch I’m trying to scratch. State of decay had the right idea but it’s execution is way too simplistic unfortunately. I mainly want the base management aspects to be much more expansive, really what everyone wants to do is become the Governor (but not necessarily as psychopathic).

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    ffordesoon says:

    I recognize the game being described here, but the opinion is completely foreign to me. And from Adam! Our tastes are usually simpatico!

    This is the sort of piece that makes me want to whine uselessly, “But if you would just, just…” And then make a frustrated noise like a pasty, gangly, uncoordinated nerd heaving a medicine ball at a fellow student.

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    colossalstrikepackage says:

    For once I’m fully behind the comments on this one. Yes the game is deeply flawed (zombies still clip through walls!), but it’s just so ambitious. I’ve ignored the vast majority of quests and am having a blast.

    I think it will start to grind over the long run, but it’s well worth checking out if you have a controller (which I reckon is worth getting just to play Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons).

  21. cylentstorm says:

    Having only played the 360 demo of this game (and having a great time, glitches-be-damned,) before trying out the PC port, I can definitely say that it meets and even exceeds my expectations for an open-world game based on *yawn* yet another zombie apocalypse created by a small developer and set at a budget price. As long as I can do my own thing without some predetermined plot sucking away the majority of freedom to play the way that I want, then it’s at least decent in my book. Sure, my opinion may change after sinking more than a few hours into it, but hey, at least it doesn’t seem to approach the level of tedium (Project Zomboid) or soulless stupidity (Day Z) to be found in most of the similar offerings out there.

    Oh, and the first addition to your ranks of survivors that you encounter is a guy in a trucker hat–provided that you bother to save him from the small group of undead directly in front of you at the very beginning–not the female soldier.

  22. Radiant says:

    Zombies are now completely ruined.
    Thank you video games.

  23. Teyaric says:

    The discussions are completly irrelevent – The save system is non-functional, autosaves are nontriggerable, and it doesnt save on exit.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      The game saves when you finish a mission, it saves when you switch between characters, it saves after you trigger scripted events. What the hell are you talking about?

  24. Mr Propellerhead says:

    Was it the beer that was sophisticated, or the tasting session?
    :P

  25. Brodo Swaggins says:

    Every writer gets a quota of two chances to use “problematic” in an article or casual conversation without sounding like a total dweeb, and you have used both of them in this article. You’re treading dangerous waters, Smith. The Dweeb Police are watching…

  26. LutherBlissett says:

    Interesting that the comments are largely at odds with the reviewer on this one. The game has some definite problems like:
    – Shitty camera especially in buildings (it should go first person IMHO)
    – inability to explain itself properly (like how it saves and how the offline perpetual world stuff works)
    – some amusing graphical glitches
    But it is by far the best “Early Access” game i’ve played and much more interesting than Left For Dead.
    It reminds me of E.Y.E. or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in that it is clearly technically flawed but compelling nonetheless.
    All this talk about Project Zomboid makes me want to return to it though – last time I played it (about a year ago) it seemed to have stagnated.

  27. mauzed says:

    “At a time when Pacman is probably going to be rebooted as an open world third-person action game”
    Already done (except for the open world part), that’s Metal Gear Solid.

    (now I can go read the rest)

  28. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    This site (and their writers) have way too much personality.

  29. GhostWulve says:

    After seeing the mention of Dead State, I am reminded how long I have been yearning for that game to release. I remember seeing its mention back in 2009 or so before the “zombie genre” was a realised thing, so I hope it turns out well for the developers sake.

  30. kazooka says:

    The interesting thing about the difficulty is that it starts out a lot like Adam’s impressions:

    “Oh no, a zombie!”
    “Well, that wasn’t so tough, I can take two or three of these guys easily!”
    “Five zombies? More like no zombies, amirite?”

    And then, you do something stupid. You manage to flip your car over in front of a horde. You break a window as you’re bracketed by two massive groups of zombies. Or you run into a feral zombie in the middle of what would ordinarily be a simple fight. And you get torn in half. In a way, it’s a lot like an actual zombie scenario. The zombies aren’t all that dangerous on their own, it’s human carelessness that makes them that way.

  31. edwardoka says:

    Even though this “impression” comes across as negative, the experience described sounds awesome.

    A lot of the criticisms and issues described here sound like those that could be levelled at the original OFP, which I can live with.

    In simulation-sandboxes I will always happily accept the inevitable jankiness in exchange for a meaningfully open world.

  32. Crainey says:

    You make a lot of good points, the game is very mechanical. While I can’t fault many of your criticisms I did enjoy the heck out of this game, put in an easy 30-40 hours, which is an achievements these days for me, was the first I’d laid hands on a controller in quite some time. With the success of the game I suppose there are certain expectation that come with that, but I saw a livestream of the game about a week before it released and bought it on release, before the hype-train arrived.

    I liked the settlement and character/RPG elements of the game, but I was mostly left wanting more. I expected there to be much more fighting between settlements and emotional drama, I wanted it to be an open world Walking Dead experience. There was the crew member I killed because he was causing problems, that was predictable, but then about 15 hours In when I had caution to the wind my favourite character got pinned down in a scavenging run and grotesquely pulled apart, literally, that took me back a bit.

    Hopefully at some point they get around to adding co-op and such, but they seem to do a lot of talking and not so much action. I shouldn’t complain, they brought it to Steam after-all.

  33. Cyrius says:

    For what should be considered a small release as it was XBLA, I have been unable to put it down since I got it. The game hits on every aspect of zombie games that I feel has been lacking – open world, focus more on simulation than action, and character dynamics (although the acting is bad).

    Here is to hoping they get a massive budget for a massive open world sequel.

  34. S Jay says:

    Why don’t you write more about Dead State? :(

  35. Premium User Badge

    Erithtotl says:

    Played this on the 360. A good game marred by one major flaw, the stupidly easy combat in nearly all situations except for when a feral gets a jump on you.

    Could be solved with a simple difficulty setting, which was not included in the game.

  36. Shaun239 says:

    I’ve put about 20 hours into this game over the last few days and have really bloody enjoyed it, but I also dislike the fact that there is no sense of threat at all from the Zombies. They are a hindrance, pure and simple. Your survivors often run off on their own in the middle of the night to fight ‘freaks’ and who can blame them? The zombies are the opposite of threatening.

    Fortunately, there are already small mods becoming available. A ‘hard’ test mod has been released on the SoD forums but I’ve not tried it. I’m hoping some modders will up the difficulty significantly since the devs seem a little unwilling to make the game challenging.

    That’s pretty much my only complaint though I really dig the randomized survivors, enclaves, the scavenging and the skills. There’s really a lot to like about this game.

  37. twaitsfan says:

    This review makes me happy. I can’t enjoy this game for some reason even though I think I really should.

  38. Secundus says:

    please vote on my “worst zombie game of 2012-13″ poll yall http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MQJ3NYB