17 Jun 2013

Media - State of Decay

This game has become my favorite Zombie game of all time. Now don't get me wrong, RE2 and RE4 the two best of the Zombie action games from Capcom are great. Left for Dead 1 and 2 are also good games but there was no survival aspect in the Zombie Survival game. Fallout: New Vegas on the Hardcore mode was more about survival then those games were. I felt no fear of the future just the fear of not being able to fend of the next Zombie.

There was no long term goal other then escape in all of those games.

In this game there is no escape. There is only survive. You have nowhere to go and you just need to live.

See you after the video.

Right off the bat, their are two types of Survivors, the playable (PC) and the non-playable (NPC). Both are needed to run and upkeep your home base. As you play the single player (and only) experience you will need to give your  PC a break and hopefully you will have another rested and not wounded to go out and do the work the homebase needs you to do in order to stay alive. If not then you will have to push on through, tired and weak going out into the local areas exploring the ruins and fighting Zombies.

It took me a while to build a stable of Survivors so I was never always using the same PC. I even had two others by the time the game came to an end who were pretty well suited. Yet I felt the clock was still ticking. Every time I came back into  the game some were out lost getting supplies others were wounded or simply tired. As my community grew and prospered I lost that sense of scrambling but I started to realize that the resources we collected were finite and already it was getting harder and harder to keep sustaining ourselves.

Larger group ment more folks to rotate through on the jobs, but took up more resources. Smaller groups were longer lasting if they didn't burn out or fall to wounds, exhaustion or both.

This is a Survival Zombie game.

You're given a Sandbox to explore once you leave the camp grounds at the top of the mountain. You find random people as the story goes on. The loot and supplies are randomly placed. You hope that their will be building materials in the construction site but instead you find some tools, some melee weapons... but damn it you needed those building materials to put together more bed spaces for the others that live in your base.

Building Materials, Fuel, Food, Medicine and Ammunition are all gathered commodities. As you find items that can be useful you can put them in the stash and earn some influence. One for One exchange, unless you support the group, the group will not allow you to use their collected supplies. You need a new gun you better hope they 1: have a new one for you to take and 2: you've earned enough influence to be getting said gun.

The PC's also have a select set of Traits and Special Skills on top of the generic Skills everyone else has. As you perform actions, you will get better at skills. As skill increase, they may also unlock more specialities or unique powers. Note that when given a choice between three new abilities you can only gain one.

Character Screen in the game
note the listed attributes of skills and traits for the characters

I'm in my second game as of writing this, (one week ahead) and I've already played a bit before starting over. In my first game I lost all of my PC's and a new PC was found but supplies were at an all time low. Moral and Trust were about to break. My current game, Moral is high and my efficient use of supplies has been ok, minus my odd fuck up. Low moral will cripple your group and without trust others won't work with you or help you out.

Add in a slew of weapons both ranged and melee, a few select cars and this game is everything that Dead Island was supposed to be. Picking the direction of your resources for the development of your base or when to move onto a new base of operations is costly and hard on the NPC's but it may save you time and trouble in the long run. The balance of the short goal and the long haul is always in the background of the game. When I had a chance to slow down or stop, I always found myself asking if I had enough to keep this up or how much did that cost me in the long run to survive that last fight.

Base management in State of Decay
note the open space for more utilities and services
As I go about keeping those around me alive, the Military and Local Government are working independently on their own agendas. Add in some hicks, local crack pots and grumpy old folks to help out (or not) and this is the bar that all Walking Dead wana be games will have to meet.

Now the game is not perfect, the controls can be clunky. Clipping and odd AI kicks in pretty hard once in a while and the collision detection can be a bit off when the game struggles to work. At it's worse this is a game that needed more time getting de-bugged but already as of this writing, they are solving issues. At it's best this game sets the bar so high, the following games will forever be compared against State of Decay.

I give this game a 4. It's great and fun, a cheep XBLA title that could have seen a full retail release but instead stayed inde due to the length of the experience. Inde games can suffer from bumps in quality but fun this game has in spades.