When State of Decay launched a couple years ago it was quite something in terms of how it separated itself from the rest of the zombie genre. We were finally presented with a game where survival and actual resource collection were key. It wasn't some sprint through hell where zombies were just targets. No, State of Decay presented fear in the idea that your survivors could die, even worse be ripped apart limb by limb as you watched helplessly.
Fast forward to the new consoles and here we are with an updated version for State of Decay putting the main game along with all the DLC into one neat package. There's a bit of everything for the zombie enthusiast as each game mode brings something different. The main campaign is the first story we were presented long ago as you survive while figuring out what really happened and trying to see what exactly the military is up to.
It starts off normal with just surviving and trying to gain resources while keeping everyone safe to then quickly expand in scope. There's questing of sorts, but what you do in the game largely revolves around whether you want to do anything story related. I like to think of each mode here, in regards to the switching of characters which you must do as one grows tired. It was neat visiting the various perspectives of these survivors, even when you switch a character the other one rests for a bit then goes out and does their own thing.
You're just hopping into various aspects of their life as they try to get through this. One aspect that was a particular issue back in the day was the draw distance and loading mechanics. While these fall under more of the gameplay area, I just want to highlight how much better these are compared to Xbox 360 where random signs or cars would load right in front me causing death. Now everything renders beautifully and you can see ever so far in front of you in this much more brightened world.
One of the biggest requests aside from adding cooperative play which was promised at one and isn't happening was long term survival. While it does have some sort of ending point, the Breakdown mode is based more on having you just live it out. Have fun, build outposts and fortify the fortress in goals of long term living.
Sure, you could fix that RV and attempt to escape or you could just have a good time collecting things and going about in the State of Decay world. It does take place in the same map as the original game, but its been modified slightly for this mode and I think certain sandbox thinking players may like this more relaxed survival.
Now when I say relaxed, that's only considering the lack of pushing you to do things. It's much rougher out here and as you level, the zombie horde only grows in strength. It gets scary and right off the bat you can see just how much deadlier things are as I got ripped apart so quickly not being used to the level of play. Strategy is much more important here when tackling scavenging so be careful when playing in this mode.
The final aspect for State of Decay is Lifeline which takes place in this new area that feels more like a metropolitan hub. While the scenery definitely makes you feel like you're in a downtown, the map itself was really just a big circular highway with some off-ramp areas. The concept is also different here as you play the part of the military in trying to extract survivors and key target individuals.
The pacing was also somewhat strange in this one as missions didn't seem to come along as often as I was hoping so there was a lot of time where I was just sitting around waiting for something to do. It's neat to have a different area which certainly looks interesting and the atmosphere feels dark. It just didn't quite build on that much and I quickly grew tired driving this long stretch of boring road.
At first I was quite in wonder of whether Year One did look better than the original. After playing for awhile I quickly felt the world was much more luscious and the colors were brighter. The draw distance I mentioned earlier is a huge bonus for me to further enjoy this game as I was very tired of how poorly it rendered on Xbox 360. That's fixed, though I do have a complaint that perhaps they should have added some environmental destruction in terms of more fences as a car should take those down.
I also still had issues with AI struggling to get in vehicles or zombies getting stuck on certain areas. It's still overall a much better title with the upgraded hardware available to it. Into actual gameplay everything is fairly basic with your health and stamina bar which drain as you do things. What's neat about State of Decay though, are the various menus which allow you to manage the world. From updating your housing area, to calling in requests over the radio or just checking in with stats on everyone.
It's a great way to manage the apocalypse and keep tabs on what exactly is happening. There's also a neat concept of reputation with communities which allows you to gain items and trade some for more fame with the area. It's slightly strange this almost resets when going to new base, but whatever. I also really like the outpost and home base relocation system in place. It's nice improving the sphere of influence and keeping infestations which are nasty zombie groupings at bay.
While there are still some issues keeping State of Decay from achieving the perfect greatness which it's so close to. You're really not going to find a more realistic zombie atmosphere out there. From viewing various stories of survivals from all these views and the many hours of gameplay its quite the package.
Managing the world around you and building within it is some sort of zombie survivors dream. State of Decay is also never scared to make you break down when a character can get ripped apart at any moment. It's definitely a top zombie survival game with a chilling world.
State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition Review on Xbox One
Review Code Provided by Microsoft