RPS Postbag: Dead State Is Out Of Early Access

Scavenging for letters.

The RPS post pigeon delivered this letter, and several others like it, to our treehouse recently:

Dear RPS,
How come you haven’t mentioned that Dead State is now out of Early Access? I know, zombies and all that, but the RPG’s about human drama too and makers DoubleBear were founded by Brian Mitsoda (he wrote Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, don’t you know!) and Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda (who’s worked on Neverwinter Nights 2 and Alpha Protocol). Chuffing Bloodlines, for goodness’ sake! That sounds right up your alley, so what gives?

Yrs playfully,
Fictional yet Furious in Folkstone

As RPS News Editor, dear Fictional, I must apologise for the oversight and offer an explanation.

When Dead State launched and I noticed we had a review coming, I chose not to post a short newsblarb, thinking that was time I could spend writing about walking simulators and it’d be redundant as we’d have a review up soonish anyway. But code came in too late to have a launch-day review, given the game’s size. Turns out, an sprawling RPG about the many struggles of life in the zombie apocalypse can take quite some time to fully explore.

But it is now out of Early Access, where it had lounged for ten months. While we crack skulls and talk sass for our WIT, perhaps you might fancy poking at the Steam user reviews.

Dead State is £19.19 on GOG or £22.99 on Steam.

Here’s a trailer from back in August:

39 Comments

  1. FoSmash says:

    Weapon of choice: The Halberd…

  2. Drake Sigar says:

    Can’t believe this took 4 years. I hope it still holds up because we’ve been sick of zombies for years.

    Yours Kittenishly,
    A concerned fan

  3. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    It’s pretty damn good, what I’ve played of it so far, and brutally hard. I’m definitely liking it.

    • Jockie says:

      Hmm, I’ve put in about 15 hours and while there are plenty of things that I like, the major flaw of the game is that it’s just incredibly easy. I haven’t lost a single survivor and so far resources are plentiful. Zombies can’t even hurt my people any more due to finding good armour.

      • Premium User Badge

        Mungrul says:

        I can see how it might get easier, but I’ve only played 2 hours and am mostly running into looters at the moment.

        • Sunjumper says:

          I have to agree I am early in the game and I am getting pasted by the enemies. I hardly have enough healing items to keep my team alive as it is. What are your secrets of early game survival?

          • Premium User Badge

            Cooper says:

            1. Avoid looters.
            You can always return to areas later. Don’t engage any looters until you’re well kitted out.

            2. Use sound as a distraction.
            Attempting to break open a door on one side of the building and then immediately running around to the other side works wonders for moving all enemies (zombies and looters) to a known position.

            3. Engage one enemy at a time.
            You get overwhelmed easily. Pick your targets.

            4. Single zombies are fine to take out. But don;t engage multiple zombies or looters unless you absolutely have to.

          • tk421242 says:

            I have to agree, avoiding looters early on is the key to surviving early on. What you have to remember is there is no XP for combat, so there is no need to engage if it can be avoided. Some areas I can totally clean out by simply weaving in and out of zeds or bashing a door to draw them away from loot points. Sometimes I can even lead zeds and looters into conflict with each other and let them do all the dirty work for me. That is quite pleasing when it works out :) I just looted a grocery store last night that had 4 looters inside and a horde of zeds, about 8, outside. I bashed the rear locked door open and the looters gave chase but because I have so many AP I was able to stay far enough away from them that they never got off an attack. I lead them right around to the front of the store and they ended up engaging the zeds when I got to the other side of the horde. My other members waited in hiding around the corner and when all this was going on I sent them inside to clean the store out. Not a single character was damaged. It just takes a lot of time and patience.

          • Palindrome says:

            Max Getz. He is an absolute bastard to keep around but he is a zombie removal machine.

            Engage zombies individually, ideally from behind using someone with a high melee skill and a baseball bat. In this situation Max, for example, gets 2 swings at 100% chance to hit; enough to take out any zombie. This method works so well as zombies have a terrible aggro range. Later maps are absolutely choked with Zs but by that stage you will have sufficient armour that they do very little damage to you.

            What ever you do don’t use firearms against zombies as you will almost certainly get swamped (once the noise meter hits red zombies start to spawn at the edges of the map and it can all go wrong very quickly).

            Looters are a more difficult proposition as you will need to use firearms to take them out (the flare gun is also surprisingly useful as setting things on fire lowers their APs). a party of 3-4 should be able to take out looters fairly easily though and they tend to have good loot.

            Coyotes can be scary (magnums hurt, a lot) but they also have excellent loot so they are worth taking on just make sure you save before you try.

            I’m sure that there must be more scary bandit types as I haven’t even seen an assault rifle yet.

            When fighting humans make sure you kill them, not KO, if there are zombies around. Zombies will make straight for anyone KOed and zombiefy them. This means that you can’t loot their weapon and the resulting zombie tends to be armoured.

          • HothMonster says:

            Good advice all around. I would like to point out the obvious. Make sure you use blunt weapons against zombies and bladed weapons or firearms against the living.

          • Jockie says:

            Make sure you’re using someone with decent medic skills to heal, otherwise you’ll just be wasting items. Decent early team is Joel/You/Renee/Anita, covers all bases in terms of having a meleer, a ranged and a medic (plus whatever your dude is, I went Leader/Negotiator/Survival/Melee personally). Later you get way better characters that can fulfill a couple of functions.

  4. Oozo says:

    Go and read them Steam user reviews, she said. Fancy poking at them I might, she said. Well, I went there, and I can tell you: they’re not all that fancy.

    Somewhat entertaining, though. On the very first page, we have none other than the world’s most irritating superhero, Tin Foil Man, speak his heart out:

    I’ve been trying to rationalize how anyone could give Dead State a positive review, and the only thing I can think of is they’re shills for the developer.

    Also, his reliable sidekick, Unintentionally Funny Mistranslation Boy:

    did it come on german?

    That’s all well and good. I’m still looking forward to your WIT, though.

    • Scelous says:

      Hey, Tin Foil Man here.

      I was using hyperbole to illustrate my very real point about how bad the game is. I didn’t expect anyone to intend that as a serious statement, but that’s my fault for not being clear.

      I’ve been gaming since my Commodore 64, so I’ve been around the block as far as gaming goes. In all my years gaming, I can’t ever remember practically everyone raving about a game that is crippled with bugs, to the point where it’s not playable. It’s just blow after blow when I try it out, with my last time playing ending with every character I have being fatigued and having no way to get rid of it (a known bug). Here is a list to see what I’m talking about:

      link to steamcommunity.com

      The only real defense I can think of that people can give is, “Oh, well, I love the concept and promise,” which I listed as a “pro” in my review. But I’m not shelling out $30 for a concept, I’m shelling out for a finalized product, which Dead State has been released as.

      It seriously does blow my mind at how much of a free pass people are giving Dead State, when other games (including indie games) get torn apart for having half the amount of bugs Dead State has. That’s the discrepancy I was getting at.

      • HothMonster says:

        Not everyone encounters the same bugs bugs with the same frequency.

        Personally, since release I had a crash when trying to bash a door while my character was already running(avoidable and already patched), one item on my to-do list doesn’t get crossed out but it doesn’t effect anything(slightly annoying but doesn’t affect gameplay) and sometimes in combat I can’t see the ap total for a move before I make it(makes me math!). In my ~20 hours since release that is all I’ve experienced excluding the patch fiasco. They already patched my crash bug too.

        So I could very easily write a positive review about it because it hasn’t been a buggy mess for me. You assume people are deluded, insane, paid, or giving the game a free pass but the people who are not complaining about bugs are probably just not running into any worth complaining about.

        • Scelous says:

          You’re probably encountering bugs you’re not even aware of, like how Oscar’s “Resourceful” trait is supposed to give you parts, but like most of the game is broken. I didn’t even realize that until I saw someone else who pointed it out.

          These aren’t bugs that happen sometimes to some people. “Panic Allows Movement Through Blocked Squares.” “Arm Sprain status prevents zombies from attacking.” “Team Effort” perk does not work.” “AKA7 attack modes incorrect.” These, amongst a massive amount of other bugs, happen 100% of the time. There’s no equivocating on this; these bugs are just facts.

          Deluded and/or insane, yes. But like I already explained, no, I don’t think anyone’s being paid off by an indie game developer. I was simply using that as hyperbole.

          • HothMonster says:

            I have not seen anyone panic and run through a blocked square. I’ve had looters surrounded and paniced too, maybe they just didn’t want to run. I’ve never seen a zombie not attack, I don’t think I’ve given any an arm sprain though. I have not gotten an AK yet. So while those bugs may be in the code, I ain’t seen them, they have not affected me. So my point stands, it’s very possible that people with positive reviews are just not running into this stuff. That doesn’t mean the bugs don’t exist or that the people that are upset don’t have a valid opinion.

            I didn’t notice the passive buffs not working. Kind of hard to be upset about something you are unaware of. Now that you mention it though I think I didn’t get the extra moral points from Mark’s perk when I let him cook but I only had him do so once since he got the perk so I wasn’t sure if I had just read the day summary screen wrong. I am now slightly annoyed but in the grand scheme of bugs 1 extra part a day or +3 moral isn’t that big a deal.

            I wasn’t saying the game doesn’t have bugs, I was saying my personal experience has not been affected by much in the way of bugs and certainly none that I would call a major issue/inconvenience. So it is very possible the people writing positive reviews have just had better luck on the bug front.

  5. theblazeuk says:

    I’m skeptical of all early access and/or ambitious games. Plenty have tried the route of Dead State, few have succeeded. Xenonauts is the only thing I’ve backed – and I am deliriously happy with what I got, though EU stole its thunder a tad – but I was lucky there.

    Still, I hope it’s good and I look forward to the WiT. Give me a walking dead simulator over the walking simulators anyday :) To counterbalance what people keep saying, I am not at all tired of zombies. Zombies done well are still rare despite a glut of attempts in the last decade and I’ve yet to discover a decent survival/group management game.

    • Hematite says:

      This War of Mine is the best group survival game I’ve played. I’m finished with it now because I’ve figured out enough about the survival economy to play it like a spreadsheet, but the simulation is complex enough that I must have spent 20 hours winging it through unfamiliar and unpredictable survival situations.

    • plugmonkey says:

      “To counterbalance what people keep saying, I am not at all tired of zombies. Zombies done well are still rare”

      Same here. I’m thoroughly done with zombies as toothless stooges to be killed with a variety of ker-azy weapons. I’m still very interested, however, in anyone doing an ‘accurate’ zombie game (for want of a better term), because hardly anybody has even attempted one.

      • Brinx says:

        Well, from what I hear an “accurate” zombie game would just involve the zombies failing because of science.
        Source: link to cracked.com

        • airmikee says:

          Yep, wanting ‘accurate’ or ‘realistic’ zombies is like asking for ‘accurate’ and ‘realistic’ dragons.

    • Hex says:

      There’s a neat game called Trapped Dead you might want to check out. I like how they did zombies.

      The gimmick of the game is that in addition to trying to survive and progress the story, each stage has a big set-piece area that can be used to destroy huge numbers of zombies. The player just needs to lure them to their doom, and figure out how to get the trap sprung at the right time.

      The ones I’ve come across in the game so far have been environmental — like an electric chair in a prison. You can flood the room, if I recall, then lure a bunch of zombies in, close the door behind them, and throw the switch. Fried zombie.

      Hmm. I should get back to that game….

  6. Foglet says:

    Wonder if it conveys its decadency well enough. It’s been ages since I’ve seen a decent zombie RPG.

    • SaD82 says:

      I see what you did there. Nice one.

    • guygodbois00 says:

      Vince, that you, man?

      • RogerioFM says:

        Vince is a legend.

      • Foglet says:

        Nah, Vince posts here as Vince.
        (I guess I’m still irrationally hoping for him to appear in the comments to confirm/disprove the Q4 2014 release date. Which I got from a Wikipedia article, so it must be true.)

  7. jasta85 says:

    As a turn based combat, RPG and base management fan this game is right up my alley. only problem is there are quite a few bugs still in the game as well as some missing minor features, however they’re being worked on and should be fixed in the next several weeks. My recommendation would be to hold off until it shows up on sale, you’ll get it cheaper and polished.

    if you’ve just been dying to play this then feel free to jump in, it’s still a lot of fun as it is

  8. Fanbuoy says:

    I was wondering why I couldn’t find any reviews of this game anywhere. They were late with sending out review code? That’s a rookie mistake.

    • Sunjumper says:

      They were working hard (too hard as it turns out) of getting the code ready for launch. So I guess they sent the reviewers code that was close to the finished product which is actually rather wise.
      A lack of reviews will result in somewhat poor day 1 sales, but once the reviews come in that situation should change automatically for the better. It’s not like the game suddenly spoils and turns into Queen Greatest Hits MP3s after a week.
      Besides the game is still being worked on taking aboard the feedback of the new players so the people who read the review will get a game that will be better polished than it is now.

      So I wouldn’t call sending out the game late a rookie mistake. Especially with a potentially rather long game what would the alternative be? Sit on the finished game for two weeks until the reviews come rolling in?

  9. derbefrier says:

    Interested to see wot RPS thinks. Browsing user reviews and impressions it seems it might be a bit buggy still but if its good I’ll buy it once they push a few patches out.

    • HothMonster says:

      Here is what happened. Game launched on Thursday. Still had a few minor bugs. I experienced mostly minor UI quality of life shit nothing real bothersome and one crash that happened if I did something pretty specific so it was easy to avoid but annoying. Anyway, after launching and getting all the crash reports and feedback the nailed down a couple of the bigger bugs (including the one that was making me crash) and patched the game early Saturday.

      New patch had major game breaking bugs. It literally broke the game, couldn’t bring a party to locations, travel speed on the world map was slowed to a snails pace, and some other things that made it unplayable. They rolled the patch back a couple hours later while they worked on it. Rolling the patch back made any saves made during the time it was out not work. Everyone was pissed.

      12 hours after the release of the broken patch they released the fixed patch. Fixed all the shit the intended to fix but no longer breaks the game. All save games work again. They apologized for rushing the patch and screwing things up and hopefully go take a few days off.

      tl;dr The first Saturday people could play the game the developer broke it for about 12 hours. So the forums were flooded with angry people. But they fixed it quick. So while the game isn’t 100% bug free it really isn’t as bad as the impression you would get looking at the user reviews/steam forums but waiting a week or so while they iron it a bit more is not a bad idea.

  10. Olaf the Merchant says:

    Played a long while, enjoyed the game, even reviewed it on Steam. Still has some rough edges and problems- can name crashes from ballistics of molotovs and endless loop of Vic the cop wanting to visit Coleman every other day as some of the more jarring ones, but still a solid, enjoyable TBS game. One of the first Kickstarter games I backed, and didn’t end up regretting, unlike that damned ConEx ex-con fiasco.

  11. XhomeB says:

    I’ve been enjoying it a lot. Sure, there are rough edges here and there and the number of bugs is a bit too high for my liking at the moment, but there’s nothing a patch or two can’t fix – what matters is the game is fun to play. Really fun to play. It’s pretty much what I always wanted “The Walking Dead: The RPG” to be.

    Don’t let the zombie theme scare you away, they might as well have been aliens from outer space, magical creatures or Winnie the Pooh clones invading the Earth – it’s about the humans and their struggles.

  12. airmikee says:

    I’ve been watching this one for a while, and it looks like it could turn out to be a worthy investment. I’m not that into zombie games, but I do enjoy a good turn based strategy game.

  13. crazyd says:

    This game does a bunch of cool and interesting things, but then bugs me with it’s terrible combat. Nothing says “fighting infectious undead” like round after round of trading bashes with zombies. Kind of breaks immersion when you can sneak up on a zombie, crack them in the back of the head with a fireaxe / shoot them in the back of the head with a shotgun, and they are still able to turn around and whack you. Combat gets a little more about strategic placement later in the game, when you get better equipment, but it sure does take a while. It also really bugs me that zombies have the same move speed / action points as most of my survivors. Running away from the shambling undead should be a legit strategy.

    The game is also extremely buggy and unpolished. Still feels pretty EA to me.

    That said, despite the fact that I don’t particularly like a lot of the game, it sure is addicting. “I’ll just play one more day… holy shit it’s 4 AM.”

  14. Sutekh says:

    Totally Enjoying this:

    * Does the Radio really doing anything? Im hearing some DJ spout off some speeches
    * Wow, Coyotes and Survivalists! wowser.
    *

    • Daniel Johnston says:

      Yup, the radio does some stuff other than just adding colour to the game. You get at least one mission from it that I’ve found so far.